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Wendell Burton Poster

Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 21 July 1947San Antonio, Texas, USA
Birth NameWendell Ray Burton

Mini Bio (1)

Most impressionable and indelibly remembered as the sensitive, cherubic-faced college student/boyfriend of Liza Minnelli in The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), actor Wendell Burton was born in Texas on July 21, 1947. When Wendell was only five, his father, an Air Force technical sergeant, was killed in a plane crash in Washington state, where the family had relocated. As a result his family returned to Texas in order to be near relatives. While in high school the family moved once again, this time to the San Francisco area. Following graduation, he majored in political science at Somona State College and, after taking some public-speaking classes, joined in a few campus stage productions. By chance, and at the insistence of a friend, he auditioned for and won the title role in the San Francisco production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Fully engaged by this early theater success, he continued his education during the run of the show and transferred to San Francisco State where he took classes in acting and directing.

Wendell was "discovered" during the show's run by "Sterile Cuckoo" director Alan J. Pakula and chosen over hundreds of more experienced film actors to play the coveted role of Jerry Payne opposite Minnelli's Pookie Adams in the bittersweet campus romance that became an unqualified hit. Exquisitely paired, he and Minnelli are still identified with the movie's touching Oscar-nominated song "Come Saturday Morning." In order to avoid a fresh-off-the-bus typecasting, Wendell took on the role of "Smitty" in the controversial screen adaptation of Fortune and Men's Eyes (1971) in which he played a naive young inmate who is raped shortly after entering prison, and, by film's end, has degenerated into a sexual predator himself. He counterbalanced this with a Hallmark TV adaptation of his "Charlie Brown" musical. The small screen proved a viable medium for the young rising actor in the early 70s with above-average roles in the well-received mini-movies Murder Once Removed (1971), Go Ask Alice (1973) and The Red Badge of Courage (1974). He also played Dick Van Dyke and Hope Lange's son for one episode on the comedy star's "new" TV series in the 70s.

A soul-searcher by nature, Wendell questioned the direction of his life and, after much travel and study, fully immersed himself in the Christian religion in 1978. That same year he married and became the father of a daughter, Haven, who is now an actress in New York, and son, Adam, a San Francisco-based musician. Reminiscent of the perennially boyish and now balding Ron Howard in both mild-mannered looks and open, easy-going temperament, his career began to subside after a time due to the lack of quality acting opportunities offered, the importance of turning down roles he deemed morally objectionable, and ever-growing family responsibilities over the uncertainties of gainful TV/movie employment

Wendell eventually taught acting for a time in Hollywood. In 1988, he decided to pursue the business side of television and found work in ad sales, eventually becoming the West Coast Director of Sales for the Family Channel. In 1997 he and his family moved back to his home state of Texas in order to help launch a local independent TV station in Houston. The family eventually settled there. Wendell serves, and has since found great spiritual fulfillment, as Director of Creative Ministries for a Houston church. He oversees drama, dance and videography services for the various ministries and also pastors adult singles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Linda Burton (13 November 2004 - present)
Patricia Nann (23 September 1978 - ?) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (2)

A common misconception is that Wendell turned down the lead role in the cult film Harold and Maude (1971). This is not true. The late screenwriter Colin Higgins was an acquaintance and there was a discussion about Wendell doing a screen test, but it never came about. Instead, Wendell went on to win the co-starring role opposite Eve Arden in the national company of "Butterflies Are Free".
Is a minister living in Houston

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