William Windom, an Emmy-winning actor made famous by his role on "Murder, She Wrote", has died of congestive heart failure. He was 88 years old.
Windom had run-ins with Hollywood before he even knew what it was; his kindergarten teacher was none other than Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard Of Oz". Born in New York, he traveled the country, studying at various institutions--including the University of Kentucky--before going back to New York to pursue an acting career.
The character-actor appeared in several Broadway shows before the wonders of television in the early '50s drew his attention. Soon he was taking parts in influential shows and TV movies, and film producers came calling as well. His turn as prosecutor Mr. Gilmer in "To Kill A Mockingbird" won him rave reviews and earned him a tight foothold in the entertainment industry, and he won an Emmy in 1969 for "My World And Welcome To It". In fact, in the '70s and '80s there was barely a series he didn't grace with his skills. Windom took roles on "Highway to Heaven", "Dallas", and "The A-Team", among others. But it was his turn on "Murder, She Wrote" as Angela Lansbury's doctor friend that cemented his place in television history.
On traveling the world with his acting career, Windom once said, "You have a nice time because people are very nice, basically. I travel a lot and I see a great many of them in all parts of the country and it's always a treat. Everybody has something worthwhile to offer, for at least ten seconds, maybe ten hours, maybe ten years, whatever, but they all have that spark that's worthwhile."
Windom is survived by his fifth wife, Patricia, and his four children.