Howard Duff, 76, a character actor in movies and television who played hard-boiled detectives, rugged adventurers and occasional comedy parts in an entertainment career that dated to the 1930s, died yesterday at a hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif.

His wife, Judy, told the Associated Press that her husband had suffered a heart attack in their home in Santa Barbara.

On Saturday night, Mr. Duff had participated in a telethon to raise money for victims of a fire that caused severe damage in Santa Barbara last month.

One of Mr. Duff's first film roles was in "Naked City," a gritty, black-and-white documentary-style depiction of police work shot on location in New York.

The 1948 movie, which was much imitated, ended with a narrator intoning the words: "There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them."

A native of Bremerton, Wash., Mr. Duff was lured into show business by the applause he won in a school play. Early in his career he worked in radio, announcing band broadcasts, serving as an Armed Forces Radio Service correspondent during World War II and acting in a serial.

From 1946 to 1951, while radio drama was in its heyday, Mr. Duff could be heard on the air weekly as Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's prototypical private eye.

Mr. Duff was married for many years to actress, writer and director Ida Lupino. About five years into their marriage, the couple starred in a humorous television series called "Mr. Adams and Eve," which was based on the home and working lives of a show business duo not unlike themselves.

In real life, the two were married in 1951 and divorced in 1972. The show ran for 66 episodes starting in January 1956.

Some years later, when Mr. Duff was giving interviews to promote "Felony Squad," a new television crime series in which he was starring, he observed that he hoped someday to move beyond what he called "the business of making faces" and to enter directing.

He noted that Lupino already was engaged in that work (as one of the first women in the field). A writer asked whether she experienced any difficulty in exerting authority over a crew of men.

"No," Mr. Duff said, in a response that was not wholly serious. "She doesn't have any trouble. She's had 16 years of practicing on me."

Mr. Duff's more than 30 films included "Brute Force" (1947); "All My Sons" (1948); "Roar of the Crowd" (1953); "Blackjack Ketchum," "Desperado," (1956); "Flame of the Islands" (1958); "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979); and "No Way Out" (1987).

He was a regular for a season or two on series that included "Dante," in which he played the title character; "Flamingo Road," in which he played Titus Semple; and "Knot's Landing," in which he played Paul Galveston. He played in single episodes of many other series. Often, as in the movies, he was cast as a somewhat shady character.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Bridget, and a brother, Doug.

JAMES P. HENDRICK

Treasury Department Official

James Pomeroy Hendrick, 88, a retired government lawyer who had served as a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury, died July 1 at the home of a daughter in Conway, Mass.

A spokesman for the Conway police said that Mr. Hendrick died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that the death had been ruled a suicide.

Mr. Hendrick, who lived in St. Croix, V.I., was a native of Wainscott, N.Y. He was a graduate of Yale University and its law school, and also received a degree from Cambridge University's Corpus Christi College.

He came to Washington and began his career with the federal government in 1941 with the War Department. During World War II, he was an assistant to the secretary of war and ended the war as an Army colonel.

He transferred to the State Department in 1946, and for the next two years was a principal aide to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in her work with the United Nations. He also worked on Marshall Plan aid programs and foreign aid to Vietnam and Korea. He later transferred to the Treasury and served as deputy assistant secretary from 1962 to 1969.

He continued to work for Treasury until about 1978, when he went to the Virgin Islands as head of its parole board. He retired in 1988.

His wife, the former Elinor Sullivan, died in October 1989. His survivors include two sons, Arthur, of McLean, and Robert, of New York City; a daughter, Alice Hardigg of Conway; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

HELEN MURPHY SHEA

Church Member

Helen Murphy Shea, 81, a member of St. Thomas Apostle Catholic Church in Washington who had lived here since about 1940, died July 8 at her home in Washington after a stroke.

Mrs. Shea was a native of Massachusetts, where she graduated from Emmanuel College and taught elementary school. From 1945 to 1947, she was a librarian at the Library of Congress.

Survivors include her husband of 44 years, Joseph W. Shea of Washington; three children, Michael Shea of London, and Kathleen Pyle and Eileen Shea, both of Washington; and a grandchild.

J. ROBERT SMITH

Businessman

J. Robert Smith, 57, a co-founder of the Horizon Travel Agency in McLean and a former executive with the Underwriters Adjusting Co. in Oakton, died of cardiac arrest July 5 at Arlington Hospital.

Mr. Smith, who lived in McLean, was a native of Washington and a graduate of Eastern High School.

In 1951, he became a worker's compensation adjuster for the American Casulty Co. in Washington. In 1959, he became a branch manager at what was then the Phoenix Assurance Co. in Washington. The company later became Underwriters Adjusting Co. He was a regional manager when he left in 1987.

He and his wife, Cynthia Smith, started Horizon Travel in 1981. After leaving the insurance business he began working there full time.

Mr. Smith was a life member and past president of the Washington Claims Association. His hobbies included flying private planes.

In addition to his wife of 36 years, of McLean, survivors include a daughter, Sherri Griggs of Hot Springs, Ark.; his mother, Jane Smith of Fort Washington; two brothers, Wellington and Kenneth Smith, both of Upper Marlboro; four sisters, Evelyn Kidd of Roxboro, N.C., June Ankers of McLean, Barbara Balderson of Laurel and Betty Harmel of Upper Marlboro; and two grandchildren.

LULA MAE SPANN

Volunteer Activist

Lula Mae Spann, 66, an area resident since 1955 who was active in volunteer work, died of a heart ailment July 6 at her home in Washington.

She had been a parent volunteer in area schools. She had done volunteer work at Seton Elementary School in Washington and with the Title 1 comprehensive program at Shaw Junior High School. She was the recipient of an award from Howard University for her work.

Mrs. Spann had taught school in her native of South Carolina before moving here. She was a 1949 graduate of Allen University in South Carolina, receiving a degree in home economics.

She was a member of John Wesley AME Zion Church in Washington.

Survivors include her husband, Edgar C., and four daughters, Inga Matisse Mitchell, Tippy Yvette Britton, and Terrie Lucia and Tracy Aleta Spann, all of Washington; a brother, Cicero Williams of Chicago; two sisters, Sally Godfrey of South Carolina, and Odessa Rembert of Chicago; and four grandchildren.