Prolific TV Actor William Windom Dies at 88

William Windom on "My World and Welcome to It"
William Windom on "My World and Welcome to It"
 Courtesy Everett Collection

William Windom, who captured a Emmy for the whimsical 1970 series My World and Welcome to It, based on the work of the American humorist James Thurber, and starred on Murder, She Wrote, has died. He was 88.

Windom died Aug. 16 of congestive heart failure at his home in Woodacre, Calif., said his wife of 38 years, Patricia.

During his nearly six-decade career, Windom also played the prosecuting attorney who tussles with Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962); starred as a widowed Minnesota congressman opposite Inger Stevens in the 1963-66 comedy series The Farmer’s Daughter, based on the 1947 movie; and appeared as Commodore Matt Decker, the leader of the doomed U.S.S. Constellation, in a 1967 episode of NBC's Star Trek.

In My World and Welcome to It -- which lasted just one season and 26 episodes on NBC -- Windom played John Monroe, a magazine writer-cartoonist. The series also sprinkled in animated cartoons that were in Thurber’s style. Windom went on to tour in a one-man show based on Thurber's writings.

On CBS’ long-running crime series Murder, She Wrote, Windom played a Maine country doctor and pal to Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher in some 50 episodes.

The New York native, a grandson of a former U.S. Treasury secretary who served under presdents James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison, piled up scores of other TV credits during his long career, with stints on such shows as The Detectives, Ben Casey, The Donna Reed Show, Twilight Zone, The Wild Wild West, Gentle Ben, Judd for the Defense, Alias Smith & Jones, Ironside, The F.B.I., Medical Center, Kojak, Barney Miller, The Facts of Life, Hotel, Newhart, Murphy Brown, Providence and JAG.

On film, Windom also starred with James Garner in The Americanization of Emily (1964) and Hour of the Gun (1967) and with Frank Sinatra in The Detective (1968).

Windom, a competitive chess player and an avid sailor who once bought a small island in Minnesota, also starred in almost 20 Broadway plays, including a 1956 revival of Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels.

In addition to his fifth wife Patricia, Windom is survived by children Rachel, Heather, Hope and Rebel and four grandchildren. A memorial service has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sept. 15 at Theatre West in Los Angeles.

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