Bill Macy, best known for playing frustrated husband Walter Findlay opposite Bea Arthur on the hit 1970s sitcom Maude, has died. He was 97. Macy died Thursday night in Los Angeles at 7:13 p.m. local time, producer and manager Matt Beckoff told The Hollywood Reporter.
Macy, who was portrayed by Sy Benson in the classic My Favorite Year in 1982, also gained fame for his role as the weasly Charlie Hatter in Robert Benton's The Late Show (1977). His character Stan Fox helped Steve Martin's Navin R. Johnson bring the Opti-Grab eyeglass invention to market in Carl Reiner's The Jerk in 1979.
Maude, an All in the Family spinoff, debuted in September 1972 and ran for six seasons on CBS until April 1978. Both shows were created by sitcom legend Norman Lear. Walter was the fourth husband of the strong-willed feminist played by Arthur, as well as the owner of Findlay's Friendly Appliances in Tuckahoe, New York. Fans remember Maude's frequent comeback to Walter whenever he managed to get off a good crack against his wife: "God will get you for that, Walter."
Born May 18, 1922, in Revere, Massachusetts, Macy was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Samuel J. Tilden High School. In 1958, he landed a role on Broadway as the understudy to Walter Matthau in Once More, With Feeling, also starring Joseph Cotten.
Lear said in an interview with the Archive of American Television that he "first saw Bill Macy choking on a chicken bone in an off-Broadway play. ... It took seven minutes; it was a tour de force." The scene stood out so much for Lear that he brought Macy to Hollywood, where he got a few lines as a cop on an episode of All in the Family and then the life-changing Maude role.
Other TV credits of Macy's include St. Elsewhere, The Facts of Life, NYPD Blue, Seinfeld and My Name Is Earl. He acted in other films, including Serial (1980), Movers & Shakers (1985), Analyze This (1999) and Surviving Christmas (2004).
Macy is survived by his wife since 1975, actress Samantha Harper, a regular on another Norman Lear show, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The two met in the late 1960s when they were both in the original Broadway production of Oh! Calcutta!
Photo credit: Tandem Productions
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