William Windom, who won an Emmy Award for his performance as a James Thurber-inspired character in “My World and Welcome to It” and also appeared on dozens of other television shows, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at his home in Woodacre, Calif., north of San Francisco. He was 88.
Windom may have been best known for his role as Maine country doctor Seth Hazlitt on “Murder, She Wrote,” performing in more than 50 episodes of the CBS mystery series starring Angela Lansbury. His numerous guest credits include the “Doomsday Machine” episode of “Star Trek” and working with Rod Serling in both “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery.”
He also was the male lead in the ABC sitcom “The Farmer’s Daughter,” which ran from 1963 to 1966.
His Emmy in 1970 came for his work on the whimsical “My World and Welcome to It,” which was based on Thurber’s humorous essays and fantastic cartoons. A Daily Variety review of the series in 1969 praised Windom for carrying off the role “with all the ecstatic joys of a dreamer who keeps the household in an uproar with his overdeveloped imagination.” The show lasted only one season on NBC, but the actor later toured the country, performing in a one-man show he developed based on Thurber’s writings.
Windom performed in more than a dozen plays and appeared for several seasons in summer stock. His notable film roles included his first — the part of a prosecutor opposite Gregory Peck in 1962 pic “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
He was born in New York City on Sept. 28, 1923, and was named after his great-grandfather, a Minnesota congressman who also was U.S. Treasury secretary under two presidents. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts and then joined the Army Specialized Training Program. After serving as a paratrooper in World War II, he pursued higher education at institutions including the University of Kentucky, but ultimately took up acting.
Windom was married five times, and is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia, and four children, Rachel, Heather, Hope and Rebel.