William Windom, Stage and Television Actor, Dies at 88

Obituaries   William Windom, Stage and Television Actor, Dies at 88
 
William Windom, a stage and television actor who found brief critical fame as the star of the television series "My World and Welcome to It," died Aug. 16 at his home in Woodacre, CA. He was 88.

"My World and Welcome To It" ran for only one season, from 1969 to 1970, but it won Mr. Windom an Emmy Award for Best Actor. The show was based on the essays and drawings of cartoonist James Thurber. In it, Mr. Windom played a cartoonist for a New York magazine. Each episodes was peppered with animation and fantasy sequences born of Mr. Windom's character's mind.

Later on, beginning in 1985, he achieved small-screen visibility again playing Dr. Seth Hazlitt on the Angela Lansbury series "Murder, She Wrote."

William Windom was born on Sept. 28, 1923, in Manhattan to Paul Windom and the former Isobel Wells Peckham. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts. In World War II, he was an Army paratrooper. Afterwards, while stationed in Frankfurt during the post-war Allied occupation, he enrolled in the new Biarritz American University in France and became involved in drama there. There, he played the title role in Richard III.

He began appearing on the Broadway stage in 1946, in a series of productions of the American Repertory Theatre, which was run by the stage doyennes Eva Le Gallienne, Cherly Crawford and Margaret Webster. With the company, he acted in King Henry VIII, What Every Woman Knows, John Gabriel Borkman, A Pound on Demand/Androcles and the Lion, Yellow Jack and Alice in Wonderland, in which he played the White Rabbit.

His stage roles through the '50s included A Girl Can Tell, Mademoiselle Colombe, The Grand Prize, a marginally successful revival of Noel Coward's Fallen Angels, Double in Hearts and The Greatest Man Alive. His final Broadway appearance was in Viva Madison Avenue! in 1960, a comedy about advertising that ran two performances. Around this time he began to find work on radio and live television. He also worked in summer stock. Later in his stage career, he performed in one-man shows based on the work of Thurber and journalist Ernie Pyle.

Mr. Windom is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia, and four children, Rachel, Heather, Hope and Rebel, from three different marriages. (He was married a total of five times.)

Mr. Windom was philosophical about his profession and his chances in succeeding in it. "Likable plus 45 cents gets you a cup of coffee," he once commented. "They want something that's effectively the same. As an actor, you make money by having them know exactly who you are and what you're gonna do and that's what they come back to see again in one form or another. I'm not a star; there are only about 25 stars in the whole world. You run into trouble even with people like Liv Ullmann, a fine actress, but how many people in Africa ever heard of or care about Liv Ullmann? It's good acting, wonderful, so who cares? Bring on Mickey Mouse."

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