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January 23 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering actor Ian Wolfe ('Uncle Simon')

Contributed by
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Steve Rubin
Jan 23, 2018

Today, January 23rd, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember a wonderful character actor: Ian Wolfe, who passed away on this day in 1992 at the age of 95.

Ian portrayed Schwimmer, the dutiful attorney who spells out to Barbara Polk (Constance Ford) the awful terms of her uncle's last will and testament in "Uncle Simon."

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The gifted Ian Wolfe made a career out of playing characters who did a lot of sitting.  

Wolfe (1896-1992), a native of Canton, Illinois, made a career of playing kindly butlers, doctors, priests, lawyers and gentle seniors. He made his film debut in director John Cromwell's World War I romantic drama The Fountain (1934), followed immediately by The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

I remember him vividly as blind Burton White, the explorer in Irwin Allen's fun, colorful 1960 adaptation of The Lost World. Sitting in a cave by himself, he helps a group of stranded visitors who are fleeing from the murderous local natives by explaining the way out of an impossibly intricate cave system. Turning to Michael Rennie's Lord John Roxton, he cries out "Guns, Johnny!" 58 years later, it still resonates.

Late in his career, he played Hirsch the butler on WKRP in Cincinnati.

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Ian Wolfe shined as blinded explorer Burton White, here reunited with Lord John Roxton (The Day the Earth Stood Still's Michael Rennie) in Irwin Allen's The Lost World.

So let's toast character gold and the legacy of Ian Wolfe, solicitor to despicable uncles, survivor of lost worlds, and a treasured gem in the TV jewelry box we call The Twilight Zone.

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