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Over the course of his lengthy career, character actor Howard Wendell appeared in everything from TV westerns ("Gunsmoke," "Bonanza") to family programs ("The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" and "Zorro"). During the '40s, Wendell began acting on Cleveland, Ohio radio comedy shows, soon finding work with a touring stage company. He transitioned to film and TV in the early '50s and landed a minor role in the 1953 adaptation of the successful Broadway musical, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," which starred Marilyn Monroe as a diamond loving, pleasure-seeking showgirl. Throughout his career, he gravitated to roles on crime and mystery films and TV shows. He appeared as a crooked police commissioner in the noir drama, "The Big Heat," and made several appearances on the strait-laced TV detective series, "Dragnet," and the primetime legal drama, "Perry Mason," starring award-winning actor Raymond Burr as the title attorney. In addition to his many dramatic roles, Wendell also displayed a flair for comedy. He guest-starred on popular radio inspired variety series like "The Jack Benny Program" and "The Red Skelton Hour," as well as traditional sitcoms like creator Carl Reiner's "The Dick Van Dyke Show," about the (often autobiographical) exploits of a TV comedy writer and his family and friends.
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