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Ben Wright, 74; Veteran Radio, Movie and TV Character Actor

July 03, 1989|From Staff and Wire Reports

Ben Wright, a character actor whose career spanned roles in radio, movies and television, died in Burbank on Sunday of complications of heart bypass surgery, family friends said.

Wright, who played the role of Herr Zeller in the 1965 Academy Award-winning "The Sound of Music," died at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 74.

A native of London, he studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and began acting professionally in 1934 in the city's West End theaters, said his friend, Joe Bandille. He came to Hollywood in 1946.

Wright began his U.S. acting career in radio shows such as "Have Gun, Will Travel" and "Sherlock Holmes."

Wright's film credits include "Judgment at Nuremberg," the version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" starring Marlon Brando, "Witness for the Prosecution," "A Man Called Peter," "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Desert Rats" and "Prince of Players."

He also did voice-over work, including Disney's "101 Dalmatians" and "The Jungle Book," and had recently completed Disney's soon-to-be-released "The Little Mermaid."

Among his television credits are several episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "Hogan's Heroes," "Perry Mason," "Quincy" and "Bonanza," Bandille said.

"Ben was one of the last of the true English gentlemen in the Edwardian sense of the word, with an accent on the gentle," Bandille said. "He was also a scholar in the best tradition of the self-educated man."

Wright is survived by his wife, Muriel, a son and daughter. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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