Oct. 27, 1923 – Jan. 2, 2013
Edward “Ned” Wertimer, the Buffalo-born character actor best known for his portrayal of Ralph Hart the doorman on the television comedy series “The Jeffersons,” died last Wednesday in the Sherman Village Health Care Center outside Los Angeles. He was 89.
In reporting his death Tuesday, his longtime manager, Brad Lemack, said Mr. Wertimer suffered complications following a fall in late November in his home in Burbank, Calif.
A graduate of Nichols School, where he made his acting debut, he served as a Navy pilot in World War II. After the war, he attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a degree in business administration.
At Penn, he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was active in the famous Mask and Wig Club, the university’s all-male musical troupe.
After graduating, he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career, working in two Broadway shows in his first year as an assistant stage manager and actor. In the 1950s, he frequently appeared on television. He become a regular guest on the popular children’s puppet series, “The Shari Lewis Show,” which highlighted his talents for mimicry and improvisational comedy.
In 1961, he replaced Paul Lynde in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” He also appeared in numerous national touring and stock productions of plays and musicals.
He made appearances in more than 100 television programs, including “Gunsmoke,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “WKRP in Cincinnati” and “Mork and Mindy.” He was a regular cast member on “The Jeffersons” for 11 seasons.
A Los Angeles resident since the mid-1960s, he appeared in several films, including “The Pack” in 1977; “Mame” opposite Lucille Ball in 1974; “Bad Company” in 1972; and “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” in 1964.
His most recent appearances were in 2007, when he starred on an episode of “The Practice” and played the Singing Pirate in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.”
He was active in the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild’s union contract negotiations and was a longtime member of the board of directors of the AFTRA SAG Federal Credit Union.
Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Dr. Skyne Uku-Wertimer, a professor emerita at California State University Long Beach.
Services will be private.