Character Actor Bart Williams Dies at 65

Courtesy Janis Uhley

He wrote, co-directed and produced 'The Last First Comic,' a documentary about vaudevillian Irv Benson.

Bart Williams, a veteran character actor and the driving force behind a 2010 documentary about Irv Benson, thought to be oldest living vaudeville comedy headliner, has died. He was 65.

Williams died Sunday of cancer at his home in Bullhead City, Ariz., his friend, Janis Uhley, announced.

Williams appeared in many Actors’ Equity productions over the years, playing the likes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Annie, Cap’n Andy in Show Boat, Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance and The Wizard in The Wizard of Oz

On the big screen, Williams was seen in Hello, Dolly! (1969), Tunnel Vision (1976), An Enemy of the People (1978), Short Circuit 2 (1988) and the Doomsday Clock (2004), and his television résumé includes spots on MADtv, Weird Science and General Hospital.

Williams wrote, co-directed and produced The Last First Comic, a feature documentary about Irv Benson. Benson, now 101, is known for playing audience member Sidney Spritzer, who for years “heckled” Milton Berle from the seats as part of the act.

Williams was active in Actors’ Equity and a member of such historical organizations as Sons of the Desert (devoted to comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy), SPERDVAC (The Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy) and The Buster Keaton Society.

Survivors include a brother and two nieces. Donations may be made in his memory to The Actors Fund.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

 

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