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Wally Cox Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (15)  | Personal Quotes (1)  | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameWallace Maynard Cox
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Wally Cox was a beloved character actor who made his mark in television and ranks as one of the medium's most memorable performers. His ability to show his range likely was limited by his short stature, slight frame, and high-pitched voice, which along with his talent for being very funny, made him ideal for comedy parts such as his memorable turn as Professor P. Caspar Biddle in "The Bird-Watchers" episode of The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) in 1966. His television persona was that of a shy, timid man in horn-rimed glasses who spoke in a tentative, though distinctly enunciated, voice. It was a persona that his long-time friend Marlon Brando said was completely at odds with the real man.

Born Wallace Maynard Cox on December 6, 1924, in Detroit, Michigan, his family moved to Evanston, Illinois, when he was a child, and he became friends with the young Brando. The child Marlon once tied Wally to a fence as a prank and left him in bondage overnight. After World War II, Cox moved to New York City and studied metal-working, becoming a master craftsman. In New York, he met up again with Brando, and the two rekindled their friendship and became roommates, with Cox eventually moving out as he reportedly could not abide Russell, Marlon's pet raccoon. Brando interested Cox in acting, and he studied with Brando's mentor Stella Adler. Cox and Brando both shared a delight in book-reading and learning, though Cox was the more accomplished intellectual.

After appearing in many TV productions in the 1940s and early '50s, Cox achieved fame as the mild-mannered teacher on the live television sitcom Mister Peepers (1952) (1952-55), a summer replacement show that was inserted into the regular line-up after receiving good reviews and strong ratings. The episode in which Peepers married his girlfriend, the school nurse Nancy, was one of the highest rated TV shows of 1954. Although the role made him a star and won him two Emmy nominations, one as Best Comedian of 1953 and one as Best Male Star of a Regular Series in 1954, Wally Cox hated Robinson Peepers. He always referred to the character as "Mr. Goodboy" and insisted he was nothing like him, that in fact, he was a "terrible person." His persona on the The Hollywood Squares (Daytime) (1965), a quiet man with a thinly veiled layer of sarcasm, probably was more like the real Cox. Outside of performing, Cox liked to ride motorcycles and take long nature walks.

After the show's cancellation due to declining ratings, Cox appeared as the lead in the TV series The Adventures of Hiram Holliday (1956) for the 1956-57 season. Although he never again headlined a live-action series, he played character roles in a score of theatrical and TV movies and frequently guest-starred on series television. He also remained prominent in the public eye as a regular panelist on the television game show The Hollywood Squares (Daytime) (1965), appearing in the upper left-hand cubicle from the series' debut in 1966 until his death in 1973. While many of the stars' responses were actually scripted, Wally Cox apparently wasn't one of them, more often using sarcasm and responding with an ironic attitude as with a witty one-liner.

He was introduced to a generation of children as the voice of the animated cartoon character Underdog on Underdog (1964) (1964-1973). He was also a singer, cutting albums and singles for the Arvee, George, and Wand record labels, including the 45-RPM singles "Love Me With Soul" backed with "Some Wonderful Day" for George and "This Man" backed by "I've Had Enough" for Wand in 1961, the latter platter sang in a style noted as "classic Northern soul floor shaker" by an appreciative fan. Another memorable record of his was "There Is a Tavern in the Town" in 1953, sang in a unique style featuring "tremulous yodeling" that was truly one of a kind. Wally also made a memorable appearance on the syndicated show Tom Smothers' Organic Prime Time Space Ride (1971) as a singer/yodeler, singing the cowboy song "That's How the Yodel Was Born."

Cox always will be remembered as the eponymous "Mr. Peepers" and the voice of "Underdog," but he was an actor of wider talents seldom used by the industry, as can be seen in his turns as the sonar operator in The Bedford Incident (1965) and as the potential suicide Wally Haverstraw in The Bill Cosby Show (1969) episode "Goodbye, Cruel World" in 1970. Dying unexpectedly on February 15, 1973, from what some newspapers described as an accidental overdose of sedatives but which Marlon Brando in his autobiography said was a heart attack, Wally Cox's cremated remains were kept hidden in a closet by his old friend for three decades. According to Brando's son Miko, both his father's and Cox's ashes were scattered at the same time in Death Valley, California, in a ceremony following Brando's death, thus reuniting the lifetime friends.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (3)

Patricia Tiernan (1967 - 15 February 1973) ( his death)
Milagros Tirado Fink (25 October 1963 - 16 August 1966) ( divorced)
Marilyn Gennaro (7 June 1954 - 1961) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Thick glasses and "mousy", soft voice. Often played characters with meek and shy personalities.
The voice of Underdog

Trivia (15)

Childhood friend and sometime roommate of Marlon Brando Upon his death, Brando was chosen to spread Cox's cremated ashes.
Once appeared in a TV commercial for men's underwear in the 1960s, but Standards and Practices, at the time, banned the commercial from broadcast. The offending material was Wally opening his dress shirt to reveal a small segment of his undershirt. This was considered "exposing underwear on a live model" and the commercial never aired.
Wrote a mystery novel for children, "The Tenth Life of Osiris Oakes," about a young boy who steals a mummified cat from a museum, only to have it come back to life.
Studied with Stella Adler in the 1940s in New York and became roommates for a time with Marlon Brando. Cox moved out reportedly because he couldn't stand Brando's pet raccoon. The unlikely pair, however, remained lifelong friends.
For over six years (1966-1973), he was the upper left square on The Hollywood Squares (Daytime) (1965) game show.
Despite his slight, timid features, his real-life hobby was motorcycle riding.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 122-123. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Provided the voice role for the animated superhero Underdog on Underdog (1964).
Marlon Brando took possession of Cox's ashes from his widow in order to scatter them at sea but actually kept them hidden in a closet at his house and frequently talked to them. The Los Angeles Times on September 22, 2004, quoted Brando's son, Miko, to the effect that both his father's and Cox's ashes were scattered at the same time in Death Valley, California, following Brando's death.
Was a childhood friend of Marlon Brando. The young Brando once tied the young Cox to a fence and left him in bondage overnight. They later met again in New York City in the 1940s and became best friends, a friendship that lasted until Cox's death.
Prestigious publisher Simon & Shuster published two of his whimsical books, "My Life As A Small Boy" (1961) and "Ralph Makes Good" (1965).
Was the television spokesman for Canada Dry's Sport Cola circa 1970.
Invoked Tyrone Power's name in an underwear commercial saying, in his best, Mr. Milquetoast voice, "I may look like Wally Cox, but, inside, I'm Tyrone Power".
Graduated from Denby High School in Detroit, Michigan, 1942.
He was a lifelong Democrat.

Personal Quotes (1)

Of course any fool knows that...then again, I'm not any fool.

Salary (1)

State Fair (1962) $500 per week with a one-week guarantee

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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