Character actor William Duell, a veteran of 14 Broadway shows and over 20 films, passed away from respiratory failure at his home in Manhattan on December 22, according to the New York Times. He was 88 years old.
Duell was born on August 30, 1923, in Corinth, NY. He attended Green Mountain College in Vermont, and after serving as a Navy medic during World War II, he completed his undergraduate degree at Illinois Wesleyan University and went on to earn his master’s degree from Yale Drama School. He made his Broadway debut in 1954’s Threepenny Opera, a show he would appear in two more times on Broadway, in addition to shows like A Cook for Mr. General, Illya Darling, 1776, Kings, Stage, The Inspector General, The Marriage of Figaro and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, starring Nathan Lane. His final turn on the Rialto was in The Man Who Came to Dinner, also starring Lane, in 2000.
Duell began breaking into the film world came in 1961, when his Yale classmate Paul Newman helped him land a role as a pool player in Newman’s 1961 film The Hustler. Other notable screen roles include Congressional Custodian Andrew McNair in the film adaptation of 1776, a role he reprised from the show’s Broadway production, Sefelt in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Johnny in the 1980’s television series Police Squad!.
Duell is survived by his wife, Mary Barto.