Robert Webber

Robert Webber

Robert Webber obituary from “The Los Angeles Times” in 1989.

Robert Webber, the virile looking, veteran actor who was seen in dozens of movies and hundreds of TV shows, has died at his Malibu home, his wife said Friday. Del Webber said her husband died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Wednesday after being diagnosed with the fatal illness seven months ago. He was 64.

Webber was the quintessential Hollywood character actor–a face familiar to thousands and a name known to few. Husky and gray-haired in recent years, he was considered one of the town’s most versatile performers, whose roles ranged from the classic “12 Angry Men” to the frivolous “10.” He often played parts that required the dignified good looks of a business executive but the demeanor of a villain.

Born in Santa Ana, he graduated from Compton College and went East to fulfill his acting ambitions.He was on Broadway in “Two Blind Mice,” “Royal Family,” “No Time for Sergeants” and “Period of Adjustment,” but later in his career came to prefer the medium of film. But he could be critical of that medium, too, saying in an interview several years ago that “until it (film) gets back to being a director’s medium (rather than an actor’s), they’re in trouble.”

He concentrated in earnest on TV and motion pictures after Marine Corps service in World War II, first attracting widespread attention in “12 Angry Men,” the 1957 classic starring Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb. Webber portrayed Juror No. 12, an advertising executive who viewed the world through slogans.Although the picture did not prove to be a commercial success, it was considered a landmark film.

His other films included “The Sandpiper,” “Harper,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Great White Hope,” “Midway,” “The Choirboys” and “Revenge of the Pink Panther.”Most recently, he played Cybill Shepherd’s father in the “Moonlighting” TV series and the prosecutor in the 1987 Barbra Streisand film “Nuts.” Often playing elegant crooks, the sharp-featured actor was a well-known presence in television shows that included “The Rockford Files,” “Cannon,” “Kojak,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “McCloud,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Quincy” and “Mannix.”

From 1947 through 1988 he was seen in more than 400 such programs.Webber was a man of philosophical bent who was part of a series of lengthy Times profiles in 1983 titled “Growing Older in America.” He had grown comfortable, he said then at age 59, with the extra pounds that had collected around his middle and with his life in general. He recalled that a director had told him when he was in his 30s that he was the type of actor whose worth would grow with age. It proved prophetic, he said. “I’m getting better parts and I have better offers.”

His wife suggests contributions in his name to ALS Program, 810 7th Ave., New York City, N.Y. 10019.

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