|Born||William Gerald Paris
July 25, 1925
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||March 31, 1986
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
William Gerald "Jerry" Paris (July 25, 1925 – March 31, 1986) was an American actor and director best known for playing Jerry Helper, the dentist and next door neighbor of Rob and Laura Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Life and career
Paris was born in San Francisco, California. His name, as frequently reported was, indeed, Paris and not Grossman. Grossman was his step-father, and he never took his name. He was a graduate of both New York University and of UCLA, and studied at the Actors Studio after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Paris had roles in major 1950s films like The Caine Mutiny, The Wild One and also played Martin "Marty" Flaherty, one of Eliot Ness's men in a recurring role in the first season of ABC-TV's The Untouchables, besides making guest appearances on other television series.
After having directed some episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which he played the recurring character of next-door neighbor and dentist Jerry Helper, Paris won an Emmy Award in the 1963-64 season for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy for that classic series. He later devoted himself to directing both in film and television, including The Partridge Family and Here's Lucy (including the famous third season opener featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) but he worked most notably on the 50s nostalgia television series Happy Days, for which he directed 234 of the show's 255 episodes. The show was a bonafide No.1 hit in the late 1970s and he was effectively the show's house director. Imitating Hitchcock, he appeared uncredited in at least one episode of every season. He also directed Laverne & Shirley as well as episodes of The Odd Couple, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Ted Knight Show and Blansky's Beauties. He returned to directing feature films in 1985's Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment and 1986's Police Academy 3: Back in Training. In all, he is credited with directing episodes of 57 TV titles and as an actor in 105 titles.
He married the former Ruth Benjamin, and they had three children. She died in 1980. Paris died of complications from brain cancer surgery at the age of 60. He was residing in Los Angeles, California, at the time of his death.
In the 1990s sitcom The Nanny, Fran Fine's grandmother Yetta Rosenberg played by Ann Morgan Guilbert showed a photo of Paris briefly and claimed it was her late husband. Guilbert played Millie Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show, wife of Paris's character Jerry Helper.