Jerry Paris

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Jerry Paris
Born William Gerald Paris
(1925-07-25)July 25, 1925
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died March 31, 1986(1986-03-31) (aged 60)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Brain tumor
Alma mater New York University
The Actors Lab
Actors Studio
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1949–86
Spouse(s) Ruth Benjamin (m. 1954; d. 1980)
Children 3

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.

Early life[edit]

Paris was born in San Francisco, California. His name, as frequently reported was, indeed, Paris and not Grossman. Grossman was his stepfather's surname, and Jerry never took that name.[1] After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, he attended New York University and the Actors Studio in New York City. After graduating, Paris moved to Los Angeles, he attended UCLA and studied acting at the Actors Lab in Hollywood.[2][3]


Paris had roles in major 1950s films such as The Caine Mutiny, The Wild One and Marty. He 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 bona fide 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.

Paris 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.

Personal life[edit]

In 1954, Paris married Ruth Benjamin. They had three children: Julie, Anthony and Andrew. They remained married until Benjamin's death in 1980.


On March 18, 1986, Paris was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. He underwent two surgeries but doctors were unable to remove the tumor. Paris remained hospitalized until his death on March 31 at the age of 60.[3] A private memorial was held at Paris' home in Pacific Palisades on April 2.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

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.




  1. ^ Berrin, Danielle (October 10, 2010). "Tom Bosley, Ron Howard and the Jewyness of ‘Happy Days’". Jewish Journal. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  2. ^ Brant, Marley (2006). Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms, 1974-1984. Billboard Books. p. 35. ISBN 0-823-08933-9. 
  3. ^ a b Folkart, Burt A. (April 2, 1986). "Jerry Paris, TV Comic, Director, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  4. ^ Cook, Joan (April 2, 1986). "Jerry Paris, TV Director, 60". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 

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