American stage actor who appeared frequently on television and occasionally but impressively in films. A Marine Corps veteran of the Second World War, he worked on Broadway and on tour in stage productions after the war. In the late 1950s, he became an increasingly familiar face on American television, following a strong performance in the film Sweet Smell of Success (1957), in which he played the smarmy fellow who gets a dalliance with the unwilling Barbara Nichols in exchange for a favor to Tony Curtis’s Sidney Falco. Cads and pompous politicians became White’s strong suit, but he achieved his greatest fame as the unctuous Larry Tate on the hit TV series Bewitched (1964). He continued to work in the theatre, particularly as a member of acclaimed Theatre West company in Los Angeles and at the Mark Taper Forum there. In December, 1988, White’s 33-year-old son, Jonathan, was killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, UK. White, who had been widowed soon after Jonathan’s birth, was embittered and enraged by this new tragedy. He became reclusive for a time, but was returning to some social activity and theatre work when he died of a massive heart attack in 1990, just a few days prior to the second anniversary of his son’s death. He was survived by his daughter.
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