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Dehl Berti; Chiricahua Apache Portrayed Indians in Westerns

December 07, 1991

Dehl Berti, a Chiricahua Apache who played to type in several TV melodramas and a handful of Western films, has died of a heart attack at a Palmdale hospital.

A family spokesman said he was 70 when he died Nov. 26.

Born in Pueblo, Colo., he came to Los Angeles as a boy and began writing for radio while a student at Los Angeles City College. Berti later migrated to New York, where he appeared on Broadway in "Thank You, Svoboda," "Richard III" and "The Strong Are Lonely."

His TV career began in 1953, when he played the villain Mersennus in the science fiction series "Operation Neptune." He had a feature role as Vittorio, the ranch foreman, in the 1987-88 melodrama "Buck James," which starred Dennis Weaver. He also made regular appearances on "Bonanza," "Simon and Simon," "Slap Maxwell," "Highway to Heaven," "Gunsmoke" and "The Rifleman."

His latest series was the recently canceled "Guns of Paradise," in which he portrayed John Taylor, a wise old Indian who befriended some children living with their gunfighter uncle.

Berti's most recent feature film was "Bullies" in 1986, while his earlier movie credits included "Toughest Man Alive," "Seven Alone," "Wolfen" and "Second Thoughts."

Survivors include two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren.

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