Bill Macy, the character actor whose hangdog expression was a perfect match for his role as husband and long-suffering foil to Bea Arthur’s unyielding feminist in the daring 1970s sitcom “Maude,” died Oct. 17 in Los Angeles. He was 97.

His friend Matt Beckoff confirmed the death, but he did not provide further details.

Mr. Macy’s stint as Walter Findlay on the CBS sitcom that aired from 1972 to 1978 was his highest profile in a long stage, film and TV career.

“Maude” was a spinoff to the landmark sitcom “All in the Family” from producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. Staunch liberal Maude’s sharp exchanges with conservative Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) were so entertaining that Lear fashioned a series around her.


In a 1998 interview for the TV academy foundation’s archive, Lear said he cast Mr. Macy as Maude Findlay’s spouse based on his work in an off-Broadway play. In it, his character had a prolonged scene of choking to death on a chicken bone.


It was an unforgettable “tour de force” performance, Lear said.

Mr. Macy was born Wolf Martin Garber in Revere, Mass., on May 18, 1922, and grew up in Brooklyn. He drove a taxi and held other day jobs while trying to land acting roles.

Onstage, he appeared in the naughty musical revue “Oh! Calcutta!” from 1969 to 1971 and the Paul Zindel play “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little” in 1971.

He made dozens of guest appearances in TV series including “Seinfeld,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “ER,” and he had supporting roles in films. He was the jury foreman in “The Producers” (1967) and the head comedy writer of a 1950s TV variety show in “My Favorite Year” (1982). His other movies included the comedies “The Jerk” (1979) and “Analyze This” (1999).

Notable deaths in 2019: Elijah Cummings, Cokie Roberts, Toni Morrison and others we have lost this year

John Witherspoon | Actor-comedian John Witherspoon, who memorably played Ice Cube’s father in the “Friday” films, has died. He was 77. The actor had a prolific career, co-starring in three “Friday” films, appearing on “The Wayans Bros.” television series and voicing the grandfather in “The Boondocks” animated series. His film roles included “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “Boomerang,” and he was a frequent guest on “Late Show with David Letterman.” Read the obituary (Charles Sykes/AP)

In 1975, he married actress Samantha Harper. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.