Wendell Niles Jr., Producer for Film and Television, Dies at 88

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He worked on a show that featured The Carpenters in their first TV appearance.

Producer Wendell Niles Jr. died Jan. 2 in Los Angeles after a battle with Parkinson's disease, his wife said. He was 88.

Born in Seattle on Dec. 8, 1930, Niles and his family moved to the Toluca Lake neighborhood of L.A. in the late 1930s when his bandleader father took a job on George Burns and Gracie Allen's radio show.

(Wendell Niles Sr. went onto to become one of the biggest radio announcers of his day and appeared as himself in such films as 1940's Knute Rockne, All American and the 1956 Martin & Lewis comedy Hollywood or Bust.)

After graduating from North Hollywood High School, Niles attended the University of Washington, where he was a placekicker on the football team. 

Niles served an associate producer on Destination Inner Space (1966) and Castle of Evil (1966), two United Pictures releases starring Scott Brady, and was a consultant on the 1979 tennis movie Players, starring Ali MacGraw and Dean Paul Martin.

With his father and late brother, Denny, he also produced 1968's Your All-American College Show, which featured the first TV appearance of Karen Carpenter and her brother, Richard. (Their act was then known as The Dick Carpenter Trio, and Karen played the drums and sang.)

He also produced an annual celebrity sports event that was held in July in Monte Carlo.

Niles was instrumental in bringing tennis back to the Summer Olympics and served as the director of special events for the sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Nelle, a former magazine editor; their children Wendell III, Leslie (and her husband Jib), Leigh (Matt), Molly (Alan) and Amanda (Rod); and their grandchildren Jack, Teddy, Nelle, William, Georgi, Shepard and Pippa.