After Marty Ingels and his wife, actress Shirley Jones, went through a painful, year-long separation, they arranged to meet for a reconciliation session at their therapist’s office.
Mr. Ingels, a compulsive comic who had a brief TV and film career but never entirely left the stage, entered wearing a big hat and playing a trombone.
“Well, looks like you haven’t changed a bit, Marty,” the therapist said.
The couple got back together and remained happily married.
Mr. Ingels, a raspy-voiced, bug-eyed comic actor who co-starred with John Astin in the early 1960s sitcom “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster,” died Oct. 21 at a hospital in Tarzana, Calif. He was 79.
He had a stroke, said Jones’s agent, Milton Suchin.
Mr. Ingels also appeared on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Addams Family” and other sitcoms. He played comic roles in a number of films, including “The Horizontal Lieutenant” (1962), “Wild and Wonderful” (1964), “A Guide for the Married Man” (1967) and “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” (1969).
In his later years, he was the cartoon voice of Pac-Man and did voice-overs on many other cartoons and commercials.
His life spun out of control in the early 1970s, when he was swamped with financial problems, went through a divorce and endured what he later described as a nervous breakdown while performing a stand-up routine on “The Tonight Show.”
“I was doing a stand-up thing and all of a sudden my knees started to buckle,” he told entertainment writer Kliph Nesteroff in 2012. “I actually passed out. I went home and spent several months in my house and became a very serious recluse.”
Over the years, medication — and, of course, humor — helped.
“The ultimate oxymoron: I was once invited to an agoraphobic convention,” he said. “What? How can that be? I pictured that it would be a giant stadium — with nobody there.”
Mr. Ingels emerged from his isolation and eventually found a new line of work: booking celebrities in commercials. He brokered deals for Orson Welles, Howard Cosell, Don Knotts, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Rudy Vallee and other stars.
“Basically, I dropped out of show business because I couldn’t control anything,” Mr. Ingels told the Associated Press in 1990. “Whether or not you worked as a comedian was up to some guy with an anonymous list somewhere. Now, I’m in control.”
But Mr. Ingels was best known as half of what many thought to be one of Hollywood’s oddest couples.
Jones, who starred in “The Music Man” (1962) and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1961 for her role in “Elmer Gantry,” played the mother on TV’s “The Partridge Family” in the 1970s. She was described in a 1979 Los Angeles Times story as “sweet-voiced, radiantly pretty, cheerfully self-assured” and possessed of “restraint, inner calm and discreet understatement.”
Mr. Ingels, meanwhile, was “a self-doubting comic-turned-talent agent who talks at top speed and makes no effort to mask his inner turbulence.”
When Jones was filming a TV movie, Mr. Ingels showed up in a 38-foot motor home with champagne, mood music and her favorite Cobb salad from Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant.
After Jones was divorced in 1975 from her first husband, actor Jack Cassidy, she and Mr. Ingels were married in 1977.
Martin Ingerman was born in Brooklyn on March 9, 1936. His uncle, Abraham Beame, was mayor of New York City from 1974 to 1977.
Attracted to show business, Mr. Ingels worked in summer stock theater and eventually moved to California, where he acted at the Pasadena Playhouse.
After his acting career ended, he stayed in the headlines with occasional lawsuits. In 1984, he and Jones settled a case against the National Enquirer, which falsely claimed in a headline that “Husband’s Bizarre Behavior Is Driving Shirley Jones to Drink.” The supermarket tabloid had to apologize and pay the couple unspecified damages.
In addition to Jones, survivors include three stepsons and 12 grandchildren.
Mr. Ingels and Jones spent a lot of time at their vacation home at Big Bear Lake, east of Los Angeles. To thwart development, they bought property there that they turned into a community park.
At a Beverly Hills reception, Mr. Ingels once introduced himself to former first lady Barbara Bush.
“Hello, my name is Marty Ingels,” he said. “I’m Shirley Jones’s husband.”
“My name is Barbara Bush,” she reportedly replied. “And I’m George Bush’s wife. Don’t you hate these parties? So boring.”