Monday, January 14, 2013

Ned Wertimer R.I.P.

Ned Wertimer, perhaps best known for playing Ralph the doorman on The Jeffersons, died 2 January 2013 at the age of 89.

Ned Wertimer was born on 27 October 1923 in Buffalo, New York. During World War II he served as a pilot in the United States Navy. Following the war he attended Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. There he was a member of the Mask and Wig Club, the oldest all-male college musical comedy troupe in the United States.

Mr. Wertimer made his debut on Broadway in Texas, Li'l Darlin' in 1950. That same year he appeared on Broadway in The Live Wire. He made his television debut on an episode of Rocky King, Detective.  He made his film debut in 1958 in Let's Rock. On television he appeared on an episode of The Alcoa Hour. He also appeared on Broadway in The Disenchanted in 1959.

In the Sixties Ned Wertimer appeared on the shows Car 54, Where Are You?; The Second Hundred Years; He & She; The Hallmark Hall of Fame; Get Smart; That Girl; Hogan's Heroes; The Governor & J. J.; Gunsmoke; I Dream of Jeannie; The Good Guys; Mayberry R.F.D.; and The Bold Ones. He appeared in the films Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), The Impossible Years (1968), Some Kind of a Nut (1969), and C.C. and Company (1970).  On Broadway he appeared in The Family Way in 1965.

It was in 1975 that he was cast in his most famous role, that of Ralph Hart the doorman on The Jeffersons. Constantly seeking tips from the tenants of the apartment building in which the Jeffersons lived, Ralph would remain part of the show for nearly the entirety of its run. In the Seventies Ned Wertimer also appeared on such shows as Ironside, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Mary Tyler MooreThe New Dick Van Dyke Show, Love American Style, The Snoop Sisters, McMillan & Wife, Sanford & Son, All in the Family (as Ralph the Doorman), Lucas Tanner, Happy Days, WKRP in Cincinatti, and Mork & Mindy. He appeared in the films Bad Company (1972), Mame (1974), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), At Long Last Love (1975), The Pack (1977), and Hometown U.S.A. (1979).

From the Eighties into the Naughts Mr. Wertimer appeared on such shows as Harper Valley P.T.A., Simon & Simon, 227, and The Practice. He appeared in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).

As a character actor Ned Wertimer had the gift of appearing for only a few minutes and yet making the character he was playing memorable.  It was a talent  that he put to good use in his many guest appearances on TV shows and his appearances in movies over the years. Nowhere it was it more apparent than in his appearances on The Jeffersons. Ralph the Doorman appeared on screen for less time than some of the leads, yet he remains one of the most memorable characters. Only an actor with Ned Wertimer's singular talent could have made him so.

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