Than Wyenn, Character Actor Known For ‘Twilight Zone,’ ‘Imitation of Life,’ Dies at 95

Than Wyenn Dead Imitation of Life

Than Wyenn, a character actor whose long list of film and TV credits ranged from “Imitation of Life” and “Being There” to “Twilight Zone” and “Quincy, M.D.,” has died. He was 95.

Wyenn died Jan. 30 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, Calif., according to his family.

Wyenn worked extensively in film and TV from the late 1940s through the mid-1980s. He was also active as a Jewish humorist and dramatist. He served for 37 years as a consultant to the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Affairs and was a founder of the city’s Yiddish Kinder Theater.

A native of New York City, Wyenn began acting as a teenager and studied with such notable teachers as Lee Strasberg, Harry Coult and Michael Chekhov. He toured nationally with a Shakespearean troupe and during WWII, worked on a farm in Vermont as part of the war effort.

After the war, Wyenn and his wife of 71 years, Guy, moved to Los Angeles. His appearance in the stage play “Once Upon a Tailor” brought him to the attention of an agent, which launched his film and TV career. He had been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1966.

Wyenn’s notable film credits included “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” “Black Sunday” and “The Other Side of Midnight.” He was a staple of 1960s and ’70s television, with credits spanning “Dragnet,” “Perry Mason,” Have Gun Will Travel,” “Zane Grey Theater,” “Playhouse 90,” “Zorro” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” through “Police Story,” “Emergency,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Hart to Hart” and countless telepics.

Wyenn appeared with Russell Johnson (of “Gilligan’s Island” fame) and Albert Salmi in the 1960 “Twilight Zone” episode “Execution,” written by series creator Rod Serling, about a 19th-century murderer who is transported into the 20th century via a time machine.

After winding down his acting career in the mid-1980s, Wyenn turned to painting and traveling with a focus on documenting Jewish life around the world.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons and five grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles or Bridge House in Boulder, Colo.

(Pictured: Wyenn, center, in “Imitation of Life” with Robert Alda and Lana Turner)

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  1. Jim Creveling says:

    Thanks Than for all the entertainment you bought to us on the large and small sceen. R.I.P my friend.

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