Veteran Character Actor Robert Webber Dead at 64
MALIBU, Calif. (AP) _ Robert Webber, a prolific character actor whose face was as recognizable as his name was unknown, has died from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 64, and had been ill since last fall.
Featured in hundreds of television episodes and dozens of feature films, Webber most recently played roles including Cybill Shepherd’s father in ″Moonlighting″ and the prosecutor in the 1987 Barbra Streisand film ″Nuts.″
He died Wednesday at his home, his agent, Mary Oreck, said Friday. Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive degeneration of the nerve cells that govern muscular movement.
The sharp-featured, silver-haired actor, who often played tainted businessmen and elegant crooks, said he had appeared in more than 400 television roles when he stopped counting them in the early 1960s.
Webber was a well-known presence in television shows such as ″The Rockford Files,″ ″Cannon,″ ″Kojak,″ ″The Streets of San Francisco,″ ″McCloud,″ ″Barnaby Jones,″ ″Quincy″ and ″Mannix.″
His film credits included ″Twelve Angry Men,″ ″Harper,″ ″The Dirty Dozen,″ ″Revenge of the Pink Panther,″ ″10,″ ″Private Benjamin″ and ″S.O.B.″
Born in Santa Ana, Webber was the son of a merchant seaman and made his first stage appearance in a Oakland school play in 1941. After serving in the Marine Corps during World War II, he was given a screen test by Universal, but a studio executive advised him to continue his theater work.
Following 2 1/2 years in summer stock, Webber made his debut on Broadway with a nine-line part in ″Two Blind Mice″ in 1948. He subsequently replaced Richard Basehart in ″Goodbye My Fancy,″ opposite Madeline Carroll.
His first film appearance came in 1951 as a gangster in ″Highway 301.″ Later that decade, Webber was seen in ″The Philco Playhouse,″ ″The Hallmark Hall of Fame″ and ″Robert Montgomery Presents″ and the plays ″No Time for Sergeants,″ ″Orpheus Descending,″ ″Wonderful Town″ an ″A Loss of Roses.″
He co-starred as the glib Juror No. 12 with Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Jack Klugman in 1957′s ″Twelve Angry Men,″ and then appeared in the television shows ″The Rifleman,″ ″Maverick,″ ″The Dick Powell Show,″ ″Alfred Hitchcock Presents,″ ″Route 66,″ ″The Defenders,″ ″Naked City,″ ″Ben Casey,″ ″The Fugitive″ and ″The Outer Limits.″
In the 1960s, he starred in the movies ″The Stripper,″ ″The Sandpiper,″ ″Harper″ and ″The Dirty Dozen.″
His film roles also included ″The Great White Hope,″ ″Casey’s Shadow,″ ″Dollars,″ ″Midway,″ ″The Choirboys,″ ″Sunday Lovers,″ ″Wrong is Right″ and ″Wild Geese II.″
Webber is survived by his wife, Del, and father, Robert. Funeral arrangements were private.