Fredd Wayne, a character actor who made a name for himself by playing Benjamin Franklin, died yesterday at an assisted-living facility in Santa Monica. He was 93.
Born in 1924 in Ohio, he came to Hollywood immediately following high school, hoping his cousin, a producer, could get him some work in the entertainment business. He couldn't, but Wayne did land a gig in the Warner Bros. mailroom.
After a stint in the army and a role on Broadway, he returned to Hollywood, where he took roles in films, but mostly appeared on television. Some of his earliest roles included work on an episode of One Step Beyond, four episodes of Perry Mason, and two 1961 episodes of The Twilight Zone -- as Paul Malloy in "The Arrival" and Barney Kamener in "Twenty Two."
In 1964, Wayne created a one-man show called Benjamin Franklin, Citizen. Appearing as Benjamin Franklin, he took the show to schools across the country, as well as a State Department tour in Europe. He studied Franklin's papers at Yale, becoming an expert on the man. He became known for playing Franklin, appearing as the Founding Father on Daniel Boone, Voyagers!, and Simon & Simon, as well as The Tonight Show, The Today Show, and a Bob Hope bicentennial special.
His most famous turn as Franklin came in a 1966 two-part episode of Bewitched, in which the Founding Father is inadvertently summoned by Samantha's bungling Aunt Clara. The episodes were the first of the series to be shot in color, and Wayne acted as a historical consultant as well.
Wayne's other genre roles included appearances in episodes of Disneyland, Wonder Woman, and Small Wonder; TV movies including The Phantom of Hollywood; and feature films including Chamber of Horrors.
Fredd Wayne is survived by his wife, Maryanne, and his sister, Fran.
(via Hollywood Reporter)