By PAUL VITELLO
Published: November 6, 2011
Sid Melton, the jug-eared character actor best known for his regular roles in the television shows “Make Room for Daddy” and “Green Acres,” and for his unflagging reliability as the comic relief in many science-fiction and noir films of the 1950s, died on Wednesday in Burbank, Calif. He was 94.
His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.
Mr. Melton’s acting career spanned more than a half-century, from his stage debut in a road production of the Broadway play “See My Lawyer” in 1939, to a recurring role as the husband (deceased, appearing in flashbacks and dreams only) of Sophia, the mother of Bea Arthur’s character in “The GoldenGirls,” the television sitcom, between 1985 and 1992.
At 5-foot-3, with a thin-lipped grin that seemed to stretch from ear to ear and the speaking voice of a Brooklyn cabbie, circa 1950, Mr. Melton played the funny man in most of the 140 movie and TV roles in which he was cast.
Mr. Melton, who was born Sidney Meltzer, credited his brother, Lewis Meltzer, the screenwriter of the movies “Golden Boy,” “The Lady in Question,” and “The Man with the Golden Arm,” with helping him get his start in Hollywood.
He later landed a regular job in 1949 with Lippert Pictures, a B-movie studio that churned out scores of low-budget movies, most of them made in less than a week. As a member of the studio’s ensemble, he played nebbishy or comic roles in dozens of films, including “The Treasure of Monte Cristo,” “Mask of the Dragon,” and “Lost Continent,” in which he is eaten by a triceratops.
In the early 1950s TV show “Captain Midnight,” which was part of CBS’s Saturday morning children’s lineup, he was the hero’s sidekick, Ichabod Mudd. Well into the 1990s, Mr. Melton said, old fans of the show greeted him with Mudd’s signature self-introduction, “Mudd with two D’s,” as if it were a secret handshake.
Mr. Melton appeared on the sitcom, “Make Room for Daddy,” later known as “The Danny Thomas Show,” from 1953 to 1964, as Uncle Charley Halper, the owner of the nightclub where the character played by Mr. Thomas performed.
He also played Alf Monroe, one of two incompetent carpenter siblings on the improbable, campy and very popular sitcom, “Green Acres,” which ran from 1965 to 1971. A recurring gag was that Alf’s “brother” Ralph was a woman, a fact that only Oliver, played by Eddie Albert, seemed to find odd.
Sidney Meltzer was born May 22, 1917, in Brooklyn, one of five children of Isidor and Fannie Meltzer. His father was a well-known comedian in Yiddish theater. He was married once, in the 1940s, but the marriage was annulled. “After that he kept dogs, mainly wire-haired terriers,” said David Lawrence, his brother-in-law.
He is survived by two nephews, Adam and Dean Lawrence.
Mr. Melton once told a reporter that despite his long-established comic persona, he would have loved “to do drama, not comedy.”
“I am not a comic,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in a 1970 interview. He considered himself an actor playing comic roles, he said.
On the other hand, he added, he liked the steady work that came his way in comic roles, and he had come to accept the limits of his physical inheritance. “I am not too tall and handsome,” he said.
Sphere: Related Content