Wendell Burton, Who Starred With Liza Minnelli in 'The Sterile Cuckoo,' Dies at 69

Wendell Burton_Liza Minnelli - Photofest - H 2017
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He also played Charlie Brown on TV and toured with Eve Arden in 'Butterflies Are Free.'

Wendell Burton, who starred with Liza Minnelli in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, a tale about two college kids in love, has died. He was 69.

Burton died Tuesday at his home in Houston after a 3 1/2-year battle with brain cancer, his daughter, actress Haven Burton, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Burton also starred as America's lovable loser in the 1973 NBC/Hallmark Hall of Fame special You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. That was adapted from the stage, and Burton had played Charlie in a San Francisco production while he was a college student in the area.

In Paramount's The Sterile Cuckoo, which marked the directorial debut of Alan J. Pakula, Burton portrayed Jerry Payne, who meets the eccentric Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams (Minnelli). Both are freshmen at nearby colleges in upstate New York and fall in love for the first time.

Minnelli, who has a memorable telephone scene in the movie in which she implores her boyfriend to remain with her, received an Oscar nomination for best actress in her first starring role for the big screen.

After The Sterile Cuckoo, Burton played the blind man opposite Eve Arden as his controlling mother in a national production of the Broadway hit Butterflies Are Free and starred in the prison-set MGM release Fortune and Men's Eyes (1971).

Also in the '70s, Burton starred in the romantic comedy Goodnight Jackie (1974); had guest-starring turns on such series as Young Dr. Kildare, Medical Center, Room 222, Kung Fu, Love American Style and The Rookies; and appeared opposite William Shatner in the 1973 ABC telefilm Go Ask Alice.

Burton later had roles in the 1981 miniseries East of Eden and in the 1986 Burt Reynolds film Heat.

He went on to work in ad sales for the Christian Broadcasting Network/Family Channel, help launch a TV station in Houston and work with the Joel Osteen Ministries. Burton also recorded four albums of faith-based music.

His daughter, Haven, provided the voice of Serena on English-language TV versions of Pokemon and appeared on Broadway in Rent, Shrek the Musical and Kinky Boots.

Survivors also include his wife, Linda; son, Adam; grandson, Hudson; and son-in-law, Denny.