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Marty Ingels, Actor and Husband of Shirley Jones, Dies at 79

Marty Ingels, an actor, talent agent and industry raconteur who was married to Shirley Jones for nearly 40 years, died Wednesday at Tarzana Medical Center following a massive stroke. He was 79.

Ingels made his mark as a comic actor in the 1960s with his zany style and rapid-fire, raspy-voiced delivery. In later years he worked as an agent and as a voice artist in cartoons, in addition to producing.

“He often drove me crazy, but there’s not a day I won’t miss him and love him to my core,” Jones said.

Ingels co-starred opposite John Astin in the 1962 ABC comedy “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster” about two carpenters, one married and one a playboy; Ingels played the swinging single Arch Fenster. The series, created by sitcom vet Leonard Stern, lasted only one season but has endured as a cult favorite among vintage TV fans.

Ingels logged numerous TV guest shots in that era. He notably played Rob Petrie’s Army buddy on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and had appearances on “Bewitched,” “The Ann Sothern Show” and “Pete and Gladys.” He was also seen on the big screen in supporting roles in “Armoured Command” (1961), “The Horizontal Lieutenant” (1962), “Wild and Wonderful” (1964), “The Busy Body” (1967), “A Guide for the Married Man” (1967), “For Singles Only” (1968), “The Picasso Summer” (1969), and “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” (1969).

Born in Brooklyn in 1936, Martin Ingerman served a stint in the Army and then wound up in Los Angeles where he got his break as an actor at the Pasadena Playhouse.

By the 1970s, Ingels turned to working behind the scenes doing voice-over work on hundreds of commercials and cartoon series. He was the voice of AutoCat on “Motormouse and AutoCat” and Beegle Beagle on “The Great Grape Ape Show.” He later lent his distinctive vocal style to the 1980s videogame-inspired toon “Pac-Man.”

During this period Ingels also launched his own talent rep firm, Ingels Inc., which specialized in booking TV commercials for notable actors such as John Wayne, Cary Grant and Orson Welles.

Ingels and Jones met in 1974 at a party at the home of “Little House on the Prairie” star Michael Landon. They married in 1977. Ingels remarked of their odd-couple relationship: “I was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn and she was Miss America. A lot of people never got that.” The pair published the autobiography “Shirley & Marty: An Unlikely Love Story” in 1990.

Ingels continued to make periodic TV guest appearances on shows ranging from “The Love Boat,” “Baywatch” and “Murder She Wrote” to “ER,” “CSI” and a 2013 episode of “New Girl.”

In his later years, Ingels was relentless in promoting various TV, film and stage projects he sought to get off the ground as a producer. He was known to make frequent calls to Variety editors and reporters with story pitches. A conversation with Ingels could be time-consuming, but it was never dull.

In addition to Jones, Ingels’ survivors include three stepsons, Shaun, Patrick and Ryan Cassidy, Jones’ sons from her marriage to actor Jack Cassidy; a niece, Lauren Ingerman; and 12 grandchildren.

Correction: An earlier version of the post misidentified the character Ingels played on “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster.”

 

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