Tom Ewell, Marilyn Monroe's leering neighbor in "The Seven-Year Itch" -- and more recently nursemaid to Robert Blake's cockatoo on "Baretta" -- says he has come to the Washington area "to be a bit of a ham and see the trees."

He will be doing his hamming, beginning Tuesday, at the Hayloft Dinner Theater in "Hotline to Heaven," a new comedy by Larry Maraviglia about a widow and widower whose scandalized relatives discover them living in sin in southern Florida.

In the last year, Ewell has appeared at five dinner theaters, doing "Never Too Late" in Chicago and St. Petersburg, Fla., and a play called "The Greatest Man Alive" in Baltimore, Dallas and Houston. He has also played in a Sacramento production of "Hello Dolly," made a movie on Key West, and appeared on numerous TV shows, including "Taxi" last week and "Eischeid" the week before.

But there are times when the jobs stop coming, he says, "and Walter Huston once told me, 'Tommy, always have an act in the trunk' . . . . Well, dinner theater is my act in the trunk.

"At my age, you're very lucky when something comes along that suits you. Whatever you get is velvet."