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Billy Wells, 70; Michigan State Star in '54 Rose Bowl Victory

January 01, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Billy Wells, 70, star of the 1954 Rose Bowl for Michigan State and later an NFL player, died Christmas Day at his Altadena home of undisclosed causes.

Wells, a halfback for Clarence "Biggie" Munn's Michigan State team, scored two touchdowns--one a 62-yard punt return in the fourth quarter--in the Spartans' 28-20 victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl 38 years ago. Michigan State had rallied from a 14-0 deficit before a crowd of 101,100.

"Biggie Munn was like a father to him," said Wells' longtime friend Palmer Casey. "After the punt return, as he was running to the bench, he said, 'That was for you, Biggie.' "

Wells joined the NFL in 1954 and played for Washington, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. His last year was in 1960 with the Patriots of the AFL.

In 1961, Wells and Casey founded Billy and His Bachelors, a Dixieland band. Casey said the band performed at social functions in Southern California, with Wells singing and playing banjo.

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