Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Character Actor Bill Erwin Passes On

Character actor Bill Erwin passed on December 29, 2010 at the age of 96.

Billl Erwin was born on December 2, 1914 in Honey Grove, Texas. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Texas, Austin in 1935. In 1940 Mr. Erwin studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He acted there as well as the Laguna Beach Playhouse and the La Jolla Playhouse. In 1941 he served as stage manager for Edgar Bergen during the ventriloquist's tour of the nation. He also made his movie debut in You're in the Army Now starring Phil Silvers. During World War II he served in the United States Army Air Force, where he rose to the rank of Captain.

Following the war Bill Erwin resumed acting. He appeared in the films The Velvet Touch (1948), Easy Living (1949), and Battleground (1949. He made his television debut in 1950 in the series The Silver Theatre.Mr. Erwin would appear often on television in the Fifties, in such shows as The Stu Erwin Show, Fireside Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Studio 57, Highway Patrol, Alfred Hitchock Presents, Cheyenne, Science Fiction Theatre, I Love Lucy, Big Town, Panic, Richard Drummond Private Detective, Trackdown, Make Room for Daddy, Sea Hunt. Man with a Camera, Sugarfoot, The Rifleman, Wagon Train, Leave It to Beaver, Bat Materson, M Squad, Have Gun--Will Travel, and Micahel Shayne. He appeared in the films Double Dynamite (1951), Holiday for Sinners (1952), Fight for the Title (1957), The Shadow on the Window (1957), The Night Runner (1957), House of Numbers (1957), Jet Pilot (1957), Gun Fever (1958), and The Cry Baby Killer (1958).

Bill Erwin continued to appear often on television in the Sixties, in such shows as The Andy Griffith Show, Rawhide, Mister Ed, Maverick, 87th Precinct, Lassie, My Three Sons, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone, The Unctouchables, Burke's Law, The Virginian, Get Smart, Death Valley Days, The Big Valley, Perry Mason, The Fugitive, The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, Mannix, and Mayberry R.F.D. He appeared such films as Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963), The Brass Bottle (1964), Counterpoint (1967), and The Christine Jorgensen Story. In the Seventies Mr. Erwin was a regular on the short lived series Struck by Lightning. He appeared in such shows as Gunsmoke, The F.B.I., Barnaby Jones, Cannon, and Lou Grant. He appeared in such films as Candy Stripe Nurses (1974), Sixth and Main (1977), and Somewhere in Time (1980).

In the Eighties Mr. Erwin appeared in such TV shows as The Waltons, Dallas, The Jeffersons, Voyagers, Hart to Hart, Who's the Boss, Highway to Heaven, Married with Children, Moonlighting, and  Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was a regular on Just the Ten of Us. He appeared in the films Dream On (1981), The Bear (1984), Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), She's Having a Baby (1988), Silent Assassins (1988), and Home Alone (1990). From the Nineties into the Naughts, he appeared in such films as Night of the Warrior (1991), Unbecoming Age (1992), Dennis the Menace (1993), The Colour of Evening (1993), Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), Art House (1998), Forces of Nature (1999), and Cahoots (2001). He guest starred on such shows as Quantum Leap, The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, The John Laroquette Show, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Drew Carey Show, The West Wing, Monk, Everwood, and My Name is Earl.

Bill Erwin had a remarkably long career. His last role was a guest shot on My Name is Earl in 2006, making his career around 66 years long. Indeed, he was 92 when he appeared on My Name is Earl. Mr. Erwin's carer was so long because he was a very versatile actor. He could play lovable characters, such as Arthur the bellhop in Somewhere in Time,  or cantankerous old men, such as in his guest appearance on Seinfeld. In his career he played everything from Army sergeants to doctors to businessmen. Bill Erwin could play nearly anything.

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