R.I.P. Bill Macy of Maude fame and guest star across MeTV

He made appearances on Matlock, The Love Boat and more.

Image: Everett Collection

"[I] first saw Bill Macy choking on a chicken bone in an off-Broadway play…it took seven minutes; it was a tour de force." Norman Lear shared this anecdote during his 1998 interview with the Archive of American Television.

In a way, this perfectly sums up the commitment to the craft that Bill Macy brought to each role he took on.

Born Wolf Martin Garber, Macy was born on May 18, 1922, in Revere, Mass. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York and worked as a taxi driver before pursuing an acting career.

Everett CollectionBea Arthur and Bill Macy on Maude, 1972-1978

Most people recognize Macy from his longstanding role as Walter Findlay on the television sitcom Maude, a spinoff of All in the Family. As the fourth husband to Beatrice Arthur's title character, his flustered demeanor played alongside Arthur's outspoken and unapologetically liberal character in a way that delighted and fixated audiences for six years. When he did manage to win the rare argument or quarrel, Arthur would quip back with her catchphrase, "God'll get you for that, Walter."

Macy also took on plenty of guest roles across classic TV. Many series that brought on the character actor are MeTV favorites. On two separate occasions, Macy can be seen in episodes of The Love Boat. The first of these takes place in season eight, in which Macy's character must perform a selfless act in order to enter the pearly gates of Heaven. The second took place in 1986; during "We'll Meet Again," Macy plays husband to Jayne Meadows. The pair take the same cruise each year in the same cabin over the course of a decade, with one small hitch; both are married to other people!

In 1987, he played Richard Wilson in the Perry Mason TV movie, Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered Madam. He popped up again in 1991 alongside Andy Griffith in Matlock, playing Sid Franklin in a case involving a murder and arson. Later, he appeared on Columbo in the episode "It's All in the Game", the only script that was written by Columbo himself (Peter Falk). 

Macy died on Thursday evening, October 17  in his home according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 97.

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LucyImHome1951 1 month ago
So sad. I was just watching an episode of Maude yesterday where he hits his 50th birthday and he thinks he's going to pass away. He lived to be 97.
Yep, he was 50 when Maude began!
Jon 1 month ago
I remember when he appeared on RIPTIDE in the 1980s. He played a client of the detectives who ended up being a murderer.
MrsPhilHarris Jon 1 month ago
Loved Riptide!
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I honestly thought he had died years ago.
Dennisjs 1 month ago
The 2nd love boat episode sounds a lot like the movie same time next year starring Alan alda
Moody Dennisjs 1 month ago
Yes I thought of that too. Same Time, Next Year was the movie with Alda & Ellen Burstyn. I always liked that movie.
Joe 1 month ago
For me, I will always remember Bill of course as Maude's husband, Walter as-well-as from the hilarious movie, The Jerk. His character was Stan Fox, the fast-talking business man who converted Navin R, Johnson's invention of the Opti-grab into millions of dollars for both.
cperrynaples Joe 1 month ago
Yes, and it always annoyed me that when Navin got sued when Opti-grab made people cross eyed, Stan seem to go scot free! After all, HE was the salesman!
Joe cperrynaples 1 month ago
I guess they didn't have strict rules & regulations regarding metals that crossed people's eyes. :)
jeopardyhead 1 month ago
Recently, I saw a YouTube video of the closing credits of an episode of The Edge of Night from about the early 1960's, and he was listed in the cast. Coincidentally, I think his part was a cab driver.
Yes, and Conrad Bain was on Dark Shadows and Rue McClanahan did several soaps! All 3 of them were stage actors in the 60's! Fun Fact: Macy appeared in Oh, Calcutta, a play in which the entire cast got naked! On second thought, maybe that fact wasn't fun...LOL! Here's a better one: Since Bill Macy was in SAG, William H. Macy of Fargo and Shameless had to use his full legal name to register! BTW, I still watch Maude every night on Antenna TV! Yes,it's up against The Flintstones, but I have a dual-tuner DVR!!
Another Fun Fact: After Maude, Macy did a series called Hanging In where he was a college dean. Ironically,it was a reworking of the final Maude episode where she was elected to Congress and featured the same supporting cast.
Going back to my first comment, I realized after rereading the article that Bill Macy wasn't really Bill Macy, so William H. Macy should reclaim his own name!
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