Danny Wells

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Danny Wells
Born Jack Westelman
(1941-04-07)April 7, 1941
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died November 28, 2013(2013-11-28) (aged 72)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actor, voice actor, composer
Years active 1972–2013
Notable work The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
The Jeffersons

Jack Westelman (April 7, 1941 – November 28, 2013), known as Danny Wells, was a Canadian actor, voice actor and composer. He is best known for his role as Charlie the bartender on The Jeffersons as well as his role as Luigi in the live-action/animated series The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.

Work[edit]

Wells was born in Montreal,[1] Canada to Eli and Eunice Westelman[2] on April 7, 1941. His acting career spanned more than 4 decades, beginning in 1972 on the comedy television show, Love, American Style.

In 1975 Wells made his film debut in The Strongest Man in the World. He then went on to appear in a string of successful movies including Private Benjamin (1980) starring Goldie Hawn and Eileen Brennan, The Woman in Red (1984) starring Gene Wilder, Magnolia (1999), and The Last Kiss (2006) where he played the Uncle of Michael Weston's character Izzy.

Over his prolific career,[3] Wells did most of his work in television, starring or making guest appearances in more than 80 television shows and movies, including Sanford and Son, CHiPs, The A-Team, and The Fall Guy. In 1975, he starred in the most notable role[4] of his career: "Charlie the Bartender", on the hit television show The Jeffersons. Wells played Charlie as a recurring role[5] throughout the entire 11 season run until the show was cancelled in 1985.

Cult fans of 1970s television ads will remember him for his portrayal as the store manager for Kmart department stores.[citation needed]

Wells began doing voice work in 1982 when he voiced the character of Stomper #1 in the Ralph Bakshi film Hey Good Looking. From there he went on to voice numerous characters for film, television and video games, including "Descent 3" and "Wizardy 8". His first television series was Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats (1984), which lead to the film Heathcliff: The Movie in 1986. He voiced several other animated series such as "Batman: The Animated Series", Grossology and Johnny Bravo, but it was in 1989 that Wells starred in and voiced the animated character that he is perhaps best remembered for with TV viewers of a certain age: Luigi from "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!".[6][7]

In an interview with "Slam" magazine, Wells recalled the popularity of the show: "We went on the air, three o'clock in the afternoon, with no publicity or P.R. at all. There was no pre-build-up to this show, nothing ... they just threw us out there. In three weeks, we became number one. We beat Disney, we beat everybody, without any publicity, without any help from anybody, this show went to the number one daytime cartoon show. They put us up against Mickey Mouse, it didn't matter, we beat them. It was amazing.”[8]

In 2002, Wells starred as film executive Jack L. Warner in the made-for-television movie "Gleason" starring Brad Garrett as Jackie Gleason.

As composer, Wells wrote the music for the 1979 CBS TV movie Never Say Never starring George Kennedy and Anne Schedeen.[9]

The Jeffersons[edit]

According to his cousin, television reviewer Alan Sepinwall, Wells worked steadily throughout the 1970s and 1980s.[10] In 1975, Wells landed the role of "Charlie the Bartender" on the CBS television show The Jeffersons. His character, Charlie, owned "Charlie's Bar" on the first floor of the Colby East luxury apartment building where the Jeffersons and Willises resided. On the show, Wells' character would offer advice to the residents. A running gag throughout the show's run would be that someone (more often than not, Lionel) would be having drinks with George Jefferson (played by Sherman Hemsley), and Charlie would hand them the bill, as George would have already sneaked out before paying.[citation needed]

Charlie the Bartender quickly became a recurring[10] role and towards the end of the series, he even had a few central episodes written specifically for him. In season 9 episode 5 (“Charlie’s Angels”), Charlie borrows money from Tom Willis (played by Franklin Cover) in hopes of upgrading his bar and increasing business by way of risque dressed waitresses. Louise (played by Isabel Sanford) and Helen (played by Roxie Roker) take offense when they feel that the changes are exploiting the women. At the beginning of the final season, Charlie is facing eviction. George becomes partners with Charlie and buys the bar. In episode 17 of season 11, (“A Secret in the Back Room”) it is discovered that Charlie has been sleeping in the back room due to a serious drinking problem that has separated him from his wife. George and Louise help him get his life back together. In another episode, Charlie's bar is just breaking even. Louise plans to put the bar back in the black with a private party for a biker gang (“The Gang’s All Here").

Death[edit]

Wells died in Toronto on November 28, 2013 and was buried in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. For fans of "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!", Wells' passing was especially poignant since it was Nintendo's "Year of Luigi" and the 30th Anniversary celebration of the character (1983).[11] His obituary states that "Danny followed his dreams ... he made them laugh."[12] Wells' headstone inscription reads: "Keep 'em laughing."

Filmography[edit]

Film (Complete)
Year Title Role Notes
1975 The Strongest Man in the World Drummer His film debut
1975 Whiffs Civilian Doctor
1976 Gus Referee
1976 The Shaggy D.A. Police Official
1978 Going Coconuts Al
1980 Private Benjamin Slick Guy
1981 Body and Soul Announcer #1
1982 Hey Good Lookin' Stomper Voice
1984 The Woman in Red Maitre D'
1986 Heathcliff: The Movie Voice
1991 Life Stinks Mercedes Driver
1999 Magnolia Dick Jennings
2001 Protection Ryan
2002 Swindle Lieutenant Jackson Craig
2006 The Last Kiss Izzy's Uncle
2007 Song of Solomon Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg (short)
2011 Textuality Mitch
2012 Old Stock Harold
Television (Most Notable Appearances)
Year Title Role Notes
1972-73 Love, American Style Fred / Bellhop 2 episodes (television debut)
1973-74 Lotsa Luck Ernie Kaplan 2 episodes
1974 Columbo Bookstore Clerk / Gary Keppler 2 episodes
1976 Kojak Riggs
1976 Flo's Place Abner Television movie
1974-76 Sanford and Son Danny Taylor / Haywood Jones 3 episodes
1976-77 What's Happening!! Bert Frederick 2 episodes
1977 The Hunted Lady Wally Television movie
1978-79 Carter Country Slippery Sam 2 episodes
1980 Nobody’s Perfect Careful Eddie 2 episodes
1979-81 Eight Is Enough Easy Art / Ed Foster 2 episodes
1979-81 CHiPs Gordy / Phil Davies 3 episodes
1982 Lou Grant Vince Episode: “Jazz”
1982 Happy Days Mr. Parker Episode: Chachi’s Future
1983-84 The A-Team Film Director / Artie Simmons 4 episodes
1984 Murder, She Wrote Talk Show Host Episode: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes
1984-85 Silver Spoons Waiter 2 episodes
1975-85 The Jeffersons Charlie the Bartender 23 episodes
1983-86 The Fall Guy Alex / Mel Bresins 2 episodes
1986-89 Small Wonder H.L. / Eddie / Discount Dale 3 episodes
1989 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Luigi 65 episodes
1985-91 Hunter Jake Flam / Murray Green 2 episodes
2002 Gleason Jack L. Warner Television movie
Voice Work
Year Title Role Notes
1982 Hey Good Looking Stomper Animated film
1986 Heathcliff: The Movie Voice Animated film
1990 Barnyard Commandos Voice Television series
1999 Descent 3 Voices Video game
2002 Evolution Worlds Voices Video game
2004 Potatoes and Dragons King Hugo III 78 episodes
2005 Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Captain Arthur Partridge Video game
2006-07 Grossology The Detective 6 episodes
2012 The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas! Voice Television movie

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jennifer Calfas (December 5, 2013). "Danny Wells Character Actor Co-Star Super Mario Bros Dies". www.today.com. The Today Show. Retrieved October 20, 2016. The Montreal-born actor 
  2. ^ "Jack Westelman". www.legacy.com. The Montreal Gazette. December 4, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2016. 
  3. ^ Todd Rigney. "Mario Bros Actor Danny Wells Dies Twitter Mourns The Loss of Luigi". www.inquisitr.com. Inquisitr. Retrieved October 20, 2016. his extremely prolific career 
  4. ^ Matt Gerardi (December 4, 2013). "RIP Actor Danny Wells of the Super Mario Bros Super Show!". www.avclub.com. The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 20, 2016. Most notably, he portrayed Charlie the bartender across multiple seasons of The Jeffersons 
  5. ^ Sandra Gonzalez (December 4, 2013). "Danny Wells Dies". www.ew.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 20, 2016. He also recurred on The Jeffersons as Charlie the Bartender, from 1975-1985 
  6. ^ Matt Gerardi (December 4, 2013). "RIP Actor Danny Wells of the Super Mario Bros Super Show!". www.avclub.com. The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 20, 2016. For TV viewers of a certain age, Wells is best known as the actor who played Luigi in both the live-action and animated segments of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! 
  7. ^ Todd Rigney. "Mario Bros Actor Danny Wells Dies Twitter Mourns The Loss of Luigi". www.inquisitr.com. Inquisitr. Retrieved October 20, 2016. people of a certain age fondly remember his turn as Luigi 
  8. ^ Josh Engen (December 4, 2013). "Luigi Actor Danny Wells Dies". www.escapistmagazine.com. Escapist Magazine. Retrieved October 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ Goldberg, Lee (June 29, 2015). Unsold Television Pilots: 1955-1989. USA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 151159067X. 
  10. ^ a b Alan Sepinwall (February 16, 2016). "The Dumbest Brooklyn Nine Nine Cops Get Some Run in House Mouses". www.hitfix.com. HitFLix. Retrieved October 20, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Luigi Actor Danny Wells Passed Away, "Year of Luigi" Gets Depressing". themarysue.com. December 4, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Jack WESTELMAN Obituary - Montreal, QC | The Gazette". Legacy.com. Retrieved 2015-11-15. 

External links[edit]