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David Ackles; Singer and Songwriter

Obituaries

March 10, 1999|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

David Ackles, a child actor who became a singer and songwriter known for his deeply personal lyrics, has died at the age of 62.

Ackles, whose albums included "Road to Cairo" and "Subway to the Country," died March 2 in Pasadena of cancer, said his wife, Janice Vogel Ackles.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday April 10, 1999 Home Edition Part A Page 18 Metro Desk 3 inches; 74 words Type of Material: Correction
The March 10 Times obituary of child actor and singer-songwriter David Ackles incorrectly implied that he had been jailed in his youth for stealing. Ackles became an avid church worker and teetotaler after what he described jokingly to a Times interviewer in 1968 as his "bad" youthful adventures. His sister, Kim Nixon, said Ackles was never incarcerated for any crime. She said he had spent time inside a number of jails--but only as a singer in a USC choir that entertained inmates. Ackles died March 2 in Pasadena at the age of 62.

A native of Rock Island, Ill., who grew up in Los Angeles, Ackles was a popular motion picture actor in his childhood. He appeared in several films for Columbia Pictures in the 1940s, including a series featuring the dog Rusty.

The many-faceted Ackles went on to record four albums for Elektra and one for Columbia Records and to perform at such venues as Hollywood's Troubadour and the Bitter End West. In the mode of his role models Randy Newman and Bob Dylan, Ackles wrote and sang such songs as "Blues for Billy Whitecloud" and "Oh, California," accompanying himself on piano.

Ackles also earned two degrees from USC, went around the world a couple of times, wrote for such television shows as "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," taught school, chaired the Glendale Theater District and was a director of USC's Musical Theater Studio. In his youth, he worked as a gardener, car salesman, detective, accountant, bar pianist, choreographer, playground director and assistant stage manager.

For the last seven years, Ackles had been executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives.

"I've been broke in so many places, I couldn't begin to list them," he told The Times in 1968, recalling his "bad" youth. "I discovered one way to have money was to steal."

So he did, and wound up in five jails. He also got so drunk one night as a USC undergraduate that he ended up married the next morning in Las Vegas.

"We got divorced when we sobered up, and now I don't drink at all," he said in 1968. He also became active in church work.

Ackles is survived by his wife of 26 years; his son, George; his mother, Queenie; and two sisters, Sally Leishman and Kim Nixon.

A memorial service is planned for March 20 at 1 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to All Saints, the USC School of Theater or the Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in Glendale.

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