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Character actor Alex Nicol who directed several films and played in spaghetti Westerns and science-fiction television shows, died July 29 Sunday in Montecito near Santa Barbara. He was 85.

The New York native began his acting career performing in Shakespeare plays. After serving in the Army during World War II, he settled in New York City and became a charter member of Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio.

He landed parts in the original Broadway productions of “South Pacific” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and was an understudy for Henry Fonda in the play “Mr. Roberts.”

The actor signed a contract with Universal Studios, which led to his big screen debut in “The Sleeping City” in 1950. Other films he acted in included “Strategic Air Command” with James Stewart and 1951’s “Tomahawk.”

He also appeared on various science-fiction TV shows such as “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits.”

Nicol also directed a few “Tarzan” motion pictures and the 1961 feature “Then There Were Three.”

He moved to Europe during the 1960s to make films in Spain and Italy.

Nicol is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jean Fleming Nicol;

two sons; a daughter; and four grandsons.