Bill Macy, the actor who left an indelible mark on the sitcoms of the 70's with his portrayal of Norman Lear "Maude" of the loving and always controversial Walter Findlay, died yesterday evening in Los Angeles. He was 97 years old.
Macy's death was announced by its producer and manager Matt Beckoff, writing on Facebook "My friend Bill Macy died tonight at 7:13 pm. He was a spit until the end. My condolences to the beautiful wife Samantha Harper Macy."
Macy starred in the 1972-78 spin-off series All in the Family alongside Bea Arthur, who played liberal Maude Findlay, a cousin of Edith Bunker's family.
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Macy's post-Maude credits include Steve Martin's 1979 vehicle The Jerk, 1982's My Favorite Year, Movers & Shakers (1985), Tales from the Darkside (1986), Me, Myself and I (1992), Analyze This (1999), Surviving Christmas (2004), The Holiday (2006) and Mr. Woodcock (2007), among many others.
Numerous television appearances both before and after his starring role in the role of Maude include roles on Law & Order, St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, The Facts of Life, NYPD Blue and My Name Is Earl. Macy appeared, along with other former sitcom stars such as Jesse White and Ann Morgan Guilbert, as one of Del Boca Vista's retirees in Florida, in episodes of Seinfeld.
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Before Maude, Macy had made an unaccredited appearance in Mel Brooks's The Producers, starring opposite Art Carney and Lilly Tomlin in the 1977 movie The Late Show, and was one of the original cast members of 1969, the landmark of Off Broadway Oh, Calcutta !, where he met actress Samantha Harper, whom he was to marry in 1975. He survives.
But it was Walter Findlay from Maude, owner of Findlay's Friendly Appliances in Tuckahoe, New York, Maude's husband, Arthur's best friend and the funny stepfather of Conrad Bain, Carol, Maude's adult daughter, played by Adrienne Barbeau, whom Macy has had its breakthrough. His slogan on the show – "Maude, sit down!", Then a Maude who usually quarreled and sat down – it was a constant laugh, a signal that Walter could only be pushed so far, just like Edith Bunker of occasionally he returned to his husband Archie.
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In a remarkable plot by Maude, Walter began to show signs of alcoholism, leading to a discussion with his wife that ended in a unique show of physical violence: he slapped her. Repentant, Walter sought help, although his status as a recovering alcoholic was occasionally mentioned later.
Macy's wife, Samantha Harper, appeared in at least one episode of Maude, and later became a regular on Mary Hartman by Lear, Mary Hartman.