Ray Walston

Herman Raymond Walston (November 2, 1914 – January 1, 2001) was an American actor and comedian, well known as the title character on My Favorite Martian. His major film, television, and stage roles included Luther Billis (South Pacific), Mr. Applegate (Damn Yankees), J. J. Singleton (The Sting), Mr. Hand (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Candy (Of Mice and Men), and Judge Henry Bone (Picket Fences).[1]

Ray Walston
Ray Walston as Boothby
Walston as Boothby in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Herman Raymond Walston

November 2, 1914
DiedJanuary 1, 2001 (aged 86)
Other names
  • Herman Raymond Walston
  • Herman Ray Walston
  • Raymond Walston
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1945–2001
Ruth Calvert (m. 1943)

Early life

Walston was born on November 2, 1914, in Laurel, Mississippi, the second son and youngest of three children born to lumberjack Harry Norman Walston (1881–1946) and Mittie (née Kimball) Walston (December 25, 1883–August 16, 1950).[2][3] He had an older sister, Carrie (1906–1982), and an older brother, Earl (February 4, 1908 – December 4, 1998). His family moved from Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana around 1925.

He started acting at an early age, beginning his tenure as a spear carrier rounding out productions at many New Orleans theaters. He mostly played small roles with stock companies, where he not only starred in traveling shows, but also worked at a movie theater, selling tickets and cleaning the stage floors. His family moved to Dallas, Texas, where he joined a repertory theater company under Margo Jones in 1938.[4]


Stage work

Walston was popular with Margo Jones' team of actors before he traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, where he spent 3 years with the Cleveland Play House. He then traveled to New York City, where he made his Broadway debut in a 1945 production of Maurice Evans' s The G.I. Hamlet. Three years later, Walston became one of the first members admitted to the newly formed Actors Studio.[5]

In 1949, he appeared in the short-lived play Mrs. Gibbons' Boys, directed by George Abbott, who later cast him as Satan (who bore the name "Mr. Applegate") in the 1955 musical Damn Yankees opposite Gwen Verdon as his sexy aide Lola. The chemistry between the two was such that they both garnered critical success and won awards for their roles. After a decade in New York theater, he won a Tony Award.

He starred as Luther Billis in the 1951 London production of South Pacific. He reprised that role in the 1958 film adaptation. He and Juanita Hall (as Bloody Mary) were the only cast members to appear in both the stage and movie versions. Additional Broadway credits included The Front Page, Summer and Smoke, King Richard III, Wish You Were Here, and House of Flowers. In 1957, Actress and Producer Katharine Cornell placed him in a role on Broadway in Robert E. Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize winning play about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, There Shall Be No Night. The play was adapted for television for a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. He had a prominent role in the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Me and Juliet, portraying the stage manager of the musical-within-the-musical, but his character did not participate in any of the musical numbers.[6]

Film and television work

Walston reprised his role in the 1958 film version of Damn Yankees.[1] His other films included Kiss Them for Me, South Pacific, Say One for Me, Tall Story, Portrait in Black, The Apartment, Convicts 4, Wives and Lovers, Who's Minding the Store?, Kiss Me, Stupid, Caprice, Paint Your Wagon, The Sting, Silver Streak, and Get a Clue. Walston landed one of the three leading roles in Billy Wilder's comic farce Kiss Me, Stupid opposite Dean Martin and Kim Novak because, after six weeks of filming, Peter Sellers had to withdraw from the cast due to a heart attack.

He narrated many United States Department of Defense and Atomic Energy Commission (now United States Department of Energy) films about nuclear experiment, including the Operation Hardtack I nuclear test film series of 1958.[7] He guest starred on numerous television programs, including "The Shirley Temple Show", The Outlaws, The Americans, and a television version of Going My Way.

My Favorite Martian

My Favorite Martian Ray Walston 1963
Walston, pictured in 1963, as Uncle Martin in My Favorite Martian.

Walston achieved his greatest success as the title character (Uncle Martin) on My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby. The two immediately became close friends.[8] Although the show gained a large audience in syndication, My Favorite Martian typecast Walston and he had difficulty finding serious roles after the show's cancellation. He returned to character actor status in the 1970s–80s, and guest starred in such series as Custer, The Wild Wild West, Love, American Style, The Rookies, Mission: Impossible, Ellery Queen, The Six Million Dollar Man, Little House on the Prairie, and The Incredible Hulk, again with Bill Bixby, in which Walston played Jasper the Magician in an episode called "My Favorite Magician".

Television comeback

Walston as Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982

From 1980–1992, Walston starred in 14 films, including Galaxy of Terror and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (as well as the 1986 television adaptation) as Mr. Hand. In a 1999 interview, Walston said that he was happy and relieved that when he walked down the street, young fans shouted at him "Mr. Hand" because he had finally torn away from his Martian role. In 1984, Walston played a judge on an episode of Night Court. Six years later, he made a guest appearance on an episode of L.A. Law. He later was hired for the role of Judge Henry Bone on Picket Fences; the character was originally a recurring role, but Walston proved to be so popular the character was later upgraded to a starring role.[9]

He made an appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Boothby, head groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, and he reprised the character twice on Star Trek: Voyager, despite the series being set in a distant part of the galaxy. (The first time, he actually played an alien participating in a simulation of the Academy; the second appearance was in a dream sequence.) During his appearance on Star Trek: Voyager in "In the Flesh", he often had trouble with remembering his lines during long one-shot dialogue scenes, but while the cameraman was changing the film for the scene in the briefing room, he quoted a line from Hamlet. Robert Beltran then quoted the next line, and Walston the next. The two went on for several minutes, amazing the entire cast and crew. In a twist of fate Beltran had starred in the role of Luther Billis while in high school [10]

In 1985, Walston made a brief appearance in the opening credits of Steven Spielberg's series Amazing Stories, as a caveman acting out a story for his tribe. Only a few seconds long, this performance began every episode of the subsequent series. In 1992, Walston played the role of Candy in the big-screen remake of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. He would work alongside Sinise again two years later in the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand.[11]

Walston was nominated three times for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his work on Picket Fences, winning twice, in 1995 and 1996. CBS cancelled the show after four seasons in 1996. Walston made a guest appearance in an episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman entitled "Remember Me", in which he portrayed the father of Jake Slicker, who was stricken with Alzheimer's disease.


Walston married Ruth Calvert (March 15, 1916 – January 26, 2004), a great-granddaughter of former Governor Oran Roberts of Texas on November 3, 1943.[12][13] The couple had one daughter, Katharine Ann.[4]

Later years

In 1994, Walston was diagnosed with lupus and as a result, his career began winding down.[14] He appeared in an AT&T long distance TV commercial in 1995, in which his dialogue implied he was Uncle Martin from Mars, looking for good rates to talk to fellow Martians living in the United States.[15]

Walston played Grandfather Walter Addams in the Addams Family Reunion (1998), a reboot to the blockbuster 1991 film The Addams Family. The next year, he appeared in the movie remake of his hit series, My Favorite Martian (1999) in the role of Armitan. He appeared in the Touched by an Angel episode, "The Face on the Barroom Floor",[16] which aired on October 15, 2000.[17]

Walston made a cameo in the 7th Heaven episode, "One Hundred",[18] which aired on January 29, 2001, 28 days after his death. His final movie role was in the independent film, Early Bird Special, which was released later that year.


On January 1, 2001, Walston died at age 86 at his home in Beverly Hills, California, six years after being diagnosed with lupus. He was cremated and the ashes given to his daughter.[1]

Select TV/film appearances


  1. ^ a b c Gussow, Mel (January 3, 2001). "Ray Walston, Broadway Star And TV Martian, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-20. Ray Walston, who won a Tony Award for playing the Devil opposite Gwen Verdon in the Broadway musical Damn Yankees repeated his role in the film version and went on to a long career playing eccentric, oddly endearing characters in movies and on television, died on Monday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 86
  2. ^ "Birth certificate for Herman Ray Walston". State of Mississippi. August 9, 1951.
  3. ^ The New York Times obituary states "Mr. Walston was born in New Orleans", which is contradicted by his Mississippi birth certificate and the 1920 United States Census. The certificate was issued in 1951 and was based on the presentation of his school records from 1925 showing his date of birth as "November 2, 1914" and place of birth as "Mississippi". An identification card was also used as evidence, which also used "Mississippi" as his place of birth. The Social Security Death Index, and his Social Security application filed in November of 1936, both use "November 2, 1914" as his date of birth. Some sources use the incorrect "December 2, 1914".
  4. ^ a b "Ray Walston Biography". Biography. A&E. Archived from the original on 19 January 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  5. ^ Dick Kleiner: "The Actors Studio: Making Stars Out of the Unknown", The Sarasota Journal (December 21, 1956), p. 26. "That first year, they interviewed about seven hundred actors and picked fifty. In that first group were people like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Tom Ewell, John Forsythe, Julie Harris, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, E. G. Marshall, Margaret Phillips, Maureen Stapleton, Kim Stanley, Jo Van Fleet, Eli Wallach, Ray Walston and David Wayne."
  6. ^ "Me And Juliet". Me And Juliet - Broadway Musical. Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on 24 February 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Operation HARDTACK Military Effects Studies: Underwater Tests: United States Department of Defense: Free Download & Streaming". Archive.org. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  8. ^ http://members.tripod.com/~jhh_2/interview.htm
  9. ^ "Judge Gives Walston a Measure of Justice". Los Angeles Times Collections. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  10. ^ "2012 Star Trek Voyager Panel - Saturday - 2:30P (52:30)". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Ray Walston List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Archived from the original on 24 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  12. ^ Palmer, Ann (Jun 20, 2014). Letters to the Dead: Things I Wish I'd Said. CCB Publishing. p. 109. ISBN 9781771431262.
  13. ^ Who's who in Entertainment, Volume 1. Marquis Who's Who, Inc. 1989. p. 668.
  14. ^ Masterworksbroadway.com
  15. ^ 1995 AT&T commercial featuring Ray Walston on YouTube
  16. ^ The Face on the Barroom Floor: Walston appears around 6:15 on YouTube
  17. ^ Ray Walston profile at movieactors.com
  18. ^ 7th Heaven: "One Hundred", in which Walston makes a cameo on YouTube

External links

Amos (film)

Amos is a 1985 American made-for-television drama film directed by Michael Tuchner and written by Richard Kramer. It is based on the 1983 novel Amos: To Ride a Dead Horse by Stanley Gordon West. The film stars Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dorothy McGuire, Pat Morita, James Sloyan and Ray Walston. The film premiered on CBS on September 29, 1985.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Cameron Crowe, adapted from his 1981 book of the same title. Crowe went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego and wrote about his experiences.The film was the directorial debut of Amy Heckerling and chronicles a school year in the lives of freshmen Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer), and their respective older friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), both of whom believe themselves wiser in the ways of romance than their younger counterparts. The ensemble cast of characters form two subplots with Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a perpetually stoned surfer, facing off against uptight history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and Stacy's older brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), a senior who works at a series of entry-level jobs in order to pay off his car, and who is pondering ending his two-year relationship with his girlfriend, Lisa (Amanda Wyss).

In addition to Penn, Reinhold, Cates and Leigh, the film marks early appearances by several actors who later became stars, including Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony Edwards. Among these actors, Penn, Cage, and Whitaker would later win the Academy Award for Best Actor, with Penn winning twice.

In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

From the Hip (film)

From the Hip, is a 1987 courtroom dramedy film directed by Bob Clark from a screenplay by Clark and David E. Kelley. The film stars Judd Nelson, Elizabeth Perkins, John Hurt, Ray Walston, and Darren McGavin.

Galaxy of Terror

Galaxy of Terror is a 1981 science fiction horror film produced by Roger Corman and directed by Bruce D. Clark. It stars Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston and Taaffe O'Connell. Produced by New World Pictures and distributed by United Artists, the film has gained a cult following.

Get a Clue (1997 film)

Get a Clue is a 1997 film based on the Newbery Medal-winning book The Westing Game.

The film draws young viewers into the strange mysteries encountered by 13-year-old "Turtle" Wexler and her sister, Angela Wexler. After moving into a new town, Turtle learns the house next door is the notoriously haunted Westing mansion. Discovering the body of the dead millionaire, Turtle attempts to solve the case in hopes of receiving a 200 million dollar reward. The live-action adventure stars Ashley Peldon, Diane Ladd, Sally Kirkland, and Ray Walston.

Kiss Me, Stupid

Kiss Me, Stupid is a 1964 American sex comedy film produced and directed by Billy Wilder and starring Dean Martin, Kim Novak, and Ray Walston.

The screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond is based on the play L'ora della fantasia (The Dazzling Hour) by Anna Bonacci, which had inspired Wife For a Night (Moglie per una notte, 1952), an Italian film starring Gina Lollobrigida. The comic song lyrics were written by Ira Gershwin, using some of George Gershwin's unpublished melodies.

Kiss Them for Me (film)

Kiss Them for Me is a DeLuxe Color 1957 20th Century-Fox comedy film directed by Stanley Donen in CinemaScope. and starring Cary Grant, Jayne Mansfield and model-turned-actress Suzy Parker in her first movie role. The picture is an adaptation of the 1945 Broadway play of the same name. the supporting cast features Ray Walston, Werner Klemperer, Leif Erickson, and Larry Blyden.

Mrs. Gibbons' Boys

Mrs. Gibbons' Boys is a play by Joseph Stein and Will Glickman. The comedy centers on the mother of three delinquent boys.

Produced and directed by George Abbott, the Broadway production opened at the Music Box Theatre on May 4, 1949 and closed after five performances. The cast included Ray Walston.

The Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania staged the play with Walter Matthau and William Windom as part of its Summer 1955 season.

O.C. and Stiggs

O.C. and Stiggs is a 1985 American teen comedy film directed by Robert Altman, based on two characters that were originally featured in a series of stories published in National Lampoon magazine. The film stars Daniel H. Jenkins and Neill Barry as the title characters. Other members of the cast include Paul Dooley, Jane Curtin, Martin Mull, Dennis Hopper, Ray Walston, Louis Nye, Melvin Van Peebles, Tina Louise, Cynthia Nixon, Jon Cryer and Bob Uecker.

The film, a raunchy teen comedy described by the British Film Institute as "probably Altman's least successful film", was shot in 1983, but not released until long after post-production was completed (copy-written in 1985). MGM shelved it for a couple of years, finally giving it a limited theatrical release in 1987 and 1988.

Of Mice and Men (1992 film)

Of Mice and Men is a 1992 American period drama film based on John Steinbeck's 1936 novella of the same name. Directed and produced by Gary Sinise, the film features Sinise as George Milton, alongside John Malkovich as Lennie Small, with Casey Siemaszko as Curley, John Terry as Slim, Ray Walston as Candy, Joe Morton as Crooks, and Sherilyn Fenn as Curley's wife.

Horton Foote adapted the story for film. Its plot centers on George and the intellectually disabled Lennie, two farm workers who travel together and dream of one day owning their own land. The film explores themes of discrimination, loneliness, and the American Dream.

Of Mice and Men took part in the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, where Sinise was nominated for the Palme d'Or award, given to the director of the best-featured film. After the film debuted in the United States on October 2, 1992, it received acclaim from critics.

Rad (film)

Rad is a 1986 American film about BMX racing. The film was written by Sam Bernard and Geoffrey Edwards and directed by Hal Needham. It stars Bill Allen and Lori Loughlin. Parts of this movie were filmed in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, as well as at Colonel Macleod Jr. High School and Bowness Park, both in Calgary, Alberta.

Russ Brown (actor)

Russell Brown (May 30, 1892; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – October 19, 1964; Englewood, New Jersey) was an American Tony Award-winning actor of stage and film. Brown, a stage actor for decades, is best remembered by audiences as Captain Brackett in South Pacific (which he repeated in the movie version) and for his performances as 'Benny Van Buren' in the stage/film version of Damn Yankees in 1958, and the following year as park caretaker George Lemon in the classic courtroom drama, Anatomy of a Murder (1959). For his stage performance in "Damn Yankees!", he earned Broadway's Tony Award in 1956, as did actor Ray Walston, actress Gwen Verdon and her choreographer husband Bob Fosse, among others, all for the same Tony Award-winning musical.

Ski Patrol (1990 film)

Ski Patrol is a 1990 American comedy film directed by Richard Correll and starring Roger Rose, Yvette Nipar, Paul Feig, T. K. Carter, Leslie Jordan, George Lopez, Ray Walston, and Martin Mull.

South Pacific (1958 film)

South Pacific is a 1958 American romantic musical film based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, which in turn is based on James A. Michener's short-story collection Tales of the South Pacific. The film, directed by Joshua Logan, stars Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr and Ray Walston in the leading roles with Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary, the part that she had played in the original stage production. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning the Academy Award for Best Sound for Fred Hynes.

South Pacific (soundtrack)

The Original Soundtrack to the film South Pacific was released in 1958. The film was based on the musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which had been first staged nine years earlier. The composers had much say in this recording, with many of the songs performed by accomplished singers rather than the actors in the film. Mitzi Gaynor and Ray Walston (who had played Luther Billis in the original national tour and in the original London production)were the only two leading performers who did their own singing in the film (and on the soundtrack album). The roles of Emile DeBecque, Bloody Mary and Joe Cable were sung by Giorgio Tozzi, Muriel Smith (who had played the role in the original London production) and Bill Lee, respectively.

The album became a major success, reaching No.1 in both the US and UK. In the US, the album stayed at No.1 for seven months - the fourth longest run ever. In the UK, the album remained in the top five for 27 consecutive weeks before reaching No.1 in November 1958. It stayed at the top for a record-breaking 115 weeks (the first 70 of these consecutively - including the whole year of 1959), and remained in the top five for 214 weeks.

The Apartment

The Apartment is a 1960 American romantic comedy film, produced and directed by Billy Wilder from a screenplay he co-wrote with I. A. L. Diamond, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. The supporting cast are Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, David White, Hope Holiday, and Edie Adams.

The story follows C. C. “Bud” Baxter (Lemmon), an insurance clerk who, in the hope of climbing the corporate ladder, lets more-senior coworkers use his Upper West Side apartment to conduct extramarital affairs. Bud is attracted to the elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (MacLaine) who in turn is having an affair with Bud's immediate boss, Sheldrake (MacMurray).

The Apartment was distributed by United Artists to favorable reviews and commercial success, despite controversy owing to its subject matter. At the 33rd Academy Awards, The Apartment was nominated for ten awards and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Lemmon and MacLaine were Oscar-nominated and won Golden Globe Awards for their performances in the film. It provided the basis for Promises, Promises, a 1968 Broadway musical by Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Neil Simon.

In the years since its release, The Apartment has come to be regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, appearing in lists by the American Film Institute and Sight and Sound magazine, and being selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The Kid with the Broken Halo

The Kid with the Broken Halo is a 1982 American made-for-television fantasy-comedy film starring Gary Coleman, Robert Guillaume, June Allyson, Mason Adams and Ray Walston about a wise-cracking "angel-in-training" (Coleman) who needs constant help from his frustrated heavenly teacher. It was directed by Leslie H. Martinson, written by George Kirgo and was originally broadcast April 5, 1982 on NBC.

The Stand (1994 miniseries)

The Stand is a 1994 American television horror miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. King also wrote the teleplay and has a minor role in the series. It was directed by Mick Garris and stars Gary Sinise, Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Molly Ringwald, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Ray Walston, and Matt Frewer. It originally aired on ABC starting on May 8, 1994.

Awards for Ray Walston

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.