Superbly talented vocal artist and character actor supreme Robert Ridgely was born on December 24, 1931 under the name of Robert Ritterbush in New Jersey. Ridgely started out as a cabaret entertainer. In the late 1950s, he recorded 45 RPM singles for Decca Records under the name of Bob Ritterbush and as Bob Ritterbusch and Robert Ridgley after changing his name to the latter. He began his television acting career in the early 60s with guest appearances on such TV shows as Surfside 6 (1960), Sea Hunt (1958), and Maverick (1957). Ridgely had a recurring role as Lt. Frank Kimbro on the short-lived World War II TV series The Gallant Men (1962). Robert made his film debut in the 1963 feature FBI Code 98 (1963). Ridgely was occasionally cast as sleazy charmers such as unctuous emcees and announcers. Robert popped up in four comedies for Mel Brooks: Blazing Saddles (1974), High Anxiety (1977), Life Stinks (1991), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Moreover, Ridgely was in several pictures for director Jonathan Demme; he’s especially memorable (and delightful) as smarmy game show host Wally “Mr. Love” Williams in the wonderful Melvin and Howard (1980). Other noteworthy movie roles are boozy, moonshine-running airplane pilot Lester Boggs in the rowdy redneck romp The Great Lester Boggs (1974), radio talk show host Bob Morton in Heart Like a Wheel (1983), and Los Angeles Mayor Ted Egan in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). Robert lent his strong, smooth, booming voice to countless animated TV programs and cartoon features; the characters he voiced include Tarzan in Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1976), Flash Gordon in Flash Gordon (1979), the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak in the The World of Strawberry Shortcake (1980) and TV specials, and Thundarr in Thundarr the Barbarian (1980). Among the TV shows Ridgely had guest spots on are Designing Women (1986), Newhart (1982), Night Court (1984), Hunter (1984), The Incredible Hulk (1977), WKRP in Cincinnati (1978), Kung Fu (1972), _Bonanza_, and Get Smart (1965). In addition, he did voice-over work for numerous TV commercials. Robert gave a terrifically robust and engaging performance as jolly porno producer the Colonel James in the fantastic Boogie Nights (1997), which alas turned out to be his last movie and a worthy closer to his long and distinguished career. Robert Ridgely died at age 65 from cancer on February 8, 1997 in Toluca Lake, California.
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