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TV star Bill Bixby dies at 59

Actor-director Bill Bixby, 59, superdad in TV’s “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” and scientist-hero of “The Incredible Hulk” vidseries, died Sunday at his home in Century City after a long bout with cancer. Known for playing the likable Everyman, Bixby in recent years spent most of his time behind the cameras, directing for TV.

He was helming an episode of the NBC series “Blossom” as recently as last week.

Bixby died at 3:33 p.m. with his wife, Judith Kliban-Bixby, at his bedside, said Pamela Golum, spokeswoman for “Blossom.”

The actor/director was diagnosed with prostate cancer in spring 1991.

The disease eventually spread to his hipbone and his liver.

Born in San Francisco in 1934, Bixby landed his first role in a stanza of “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” and made appearances on “The Danny Thomas Show ,””The Andy Griffith Show” and “J.J. Starbuck.” From 1963-66 he starred in the CBS sitcom “My Favorite Martian,” followed three years later by ABC’s “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” 1969-72.

Following a run in NBC’s 1973-74 series “The Magician,” actor starred from 1978-82 in CBS’ comic-book-based “The Incredible Hulk,” in which he played mild Dr. David Banner, researcher who through a freak lab accident changed when angry into a huge, green monster, played by weightlifter Lou Ferrigno.

In 1983-84 Mariette Hartley and Bixby were paired in CBS’ sitcom “Goodnight, Beantown.” Vidpix included “Congratulations It’s a Boy!,””The Couple Takes a Wife,””Shirts/Skins,””The Invasion of Johnson County,””The Great Houdini, “”Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy” and “Diagnosis of Murder.” He directed several episodes of ABC’s “Rich Man, Poor Man” as well as “Three on a Date, “”Another Pair of Aces” and “I Had 3 Wives.”

Features included “Lonely Are the Brave,””Irma La Douce,””Ride Beyond Vengeance” and “Kentucky Fried Movie.” He appeared onstage in “Under the Yum Yum Tree” and in the national company of “The Fantasticks.”

He is survived by Kliban-Bixby. Funeral plans are pending.

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