Ben Wright (English actor)
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5 May 1915|
London, England, UK
|Died||2 July 1989
Burbank, California, USA
|Cause of death||Heart failure post-surgery|
Wright worked extensively in American radio, supplying crisp, erudite diction as the radio incarnation of Sherlock Holmes (1949–1950) and Inspector Peter Black on Pursuit (1951–1952). However, he considered himself a dialectician, playing Indian servant Tulku on The Green Lama, Chinese bellhop Hey Boy on the radio version of Have Gun Will Travel, various dialect roles on Nightbeat and the anthology series Escape. His roles in the last ranged from the Cockney protagonist of The Man Who Worked Miracles to the famed Arabian hero of The Voyages of Sinbad. Other radio credits included Gunsmoke, Crime Classics and Suspense.
Film and television
He achieved worldwide fame when he was seen as the Nazi Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music (1965), and he had small roles in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), and Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie (1966). On TV, he guested on such series as My Three Sons, Hogan's Heroes (as various Nazi officers), Combat!, Get Smart, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, The Twilight Zone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, It Takes a Thief, "Mission Impossible", Mr Rudolpho on the final episode of the 1964 TV series The Addams Family and The Rockford Files. Wright made three guest appearances in Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr. In the 1960 episode, "The Case of the Bashful Burro," he played assay agent and murderer Crawford Wright, speaking with a Welsh-sounding accent. He also made a guest appearance on the US television series The Monkees, in the episode titled "The Success Story."
Wright also worked as a voice actor. He was often heard on The Outer Limits as various alien voices, and he also appeared on-camera. Other voice work included the narrator in Cleopatra (1963) with Elizabeth Taylor, the BBC announcer in the film version of The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and featured animation roles in several Disney films: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) as songwriter Roger Radcliffe, The Jungle Book (1967) as Mowgli's wolf father, Rama and The Little Mermaid (1989) as Grimsby. The last was his final role. Wright died on 2 July 1989 after undergoing heart surgery soon after finishing on The Little Mermaid. He was survived by his wife Muriel and a son and daughter. He was cremated.
- Well Done, Henry (1936)
- Sahara (1943) (uncredited)
- Witness for the Prosecution (1957) as court clerk (uncredited)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) as Herr Halbestadt, Haywood's butler
- The Sound of Music (1965) as Herr Zeller
- Munster Go Home (1966)