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'Maude' Actor Bill Macy Dead at 97

'Maude' Actor Bill Macy Dead at 97
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Bill Macy, the actor remembered for his portrayal of flustered Walter Findlay on the Bea Arthur-led sitcom "Maude" (1972-1978), died Thursday in L.A., THR reports. He was 97.

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Born May 18, 1922, in Massachusetts, he was raised in Brooklyn and drove a taxi while pursuing his acting ambitions. Macy found his first work on Broadway as Walter Matthau's understudy in 1958.

He made his TV debut, fittingly, as a cab driver on the soap opera "Edge of Night" in 1966, and enjoyed great success in the original cast of the avant-garde "Oh! Calcutta!" off-Broadway in 1969. He met his wife — actress Samantha Harper, who survives him and with whom he made numerous appearances on the game show "Tattletales" in the '70s — during the run of the show, which was remarkable for its bawdy focus on sexual humor and its featuring of female and male nudity.

Producer Norman Lear was said to have first seen Macy in an off-Broadway show, comically choking on a chicken bone. It was enough to secure him the part of Walter on "Maude," a spin-off of Lear's powerhouse "All in the Family." Focusing on a middle-aged liberal firebrand played by Arthur, the show tackled hot-button issues of the '70s, including feminism, political corruption, racism, gay rights, domestic violence, substance abuse, and abortion.

Macy was also featured in the films "The Producers" (1967), "The Late Show" (1976), "The Jerk" (1979), "My Favorite Year" (1982), "Bad Medicine" (1985), "Analyze This" (1999), and "The Holiday" (2006).

Among many TV appearances, Macy's uncredited character chaired Morty Seinfeld's impeachment from his condo board on a classic 1996 episode of "Seinfeld."