Willy Switkes, a character actor who made appearances in films including “Tootsie” and “Taxi Driver” died March 7 at Montgomery Hospice Casey House in Rockville, Md of colon cancer. He was 83.
Switkes, born in Washington D.C. in 1929, was a longtime Gotham resident. He moved there in 1955 to pursue an acting career in stage, screen and television.
He worked in over 80 films including “Dressed To Kill,” “The Arrangement,” “The French Connection,” “An Unmarried Woman,” “Playing for Keeps,” “Bananas” and “Ghostbusters II.” In “Tootsie,” he appeared as a man in a cab with Dustin Hoffman.
Switkes appeared in the Broadway productions of “Sly Fox,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “A Country Scandal,” “St. Joan of the Stockyards,” “What the Butler Saw,” and “A Thousand Clowns.” He served as Buster Keaton’s understudy in the 1960 production of “Once Upon a Mattress” and played the part of the Wizard. He toured with Cathy Rigby in “Peter Pan” playing Smee the Pirate.
Switkes was the brother of the late Joseph N. Switkes. He is survived by his nieces, Ellen and Nancy; his nephew, Harvey and two great-nieces.