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Wolfe circa 1960
November 4, 1896|
Canton, Illinois, US
|Died||January 23, 1992
Los Angeles, California, US
|Other names||Ien Wulf, Ian Macwolfe, Ian Wolf|
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Schroder (m. 1924; his death 1992)|
|Children||Moya and Deirdre|
Ian Wolfe (November 4, 1896 – January 23, 1992) was an American actor with around 400 film and television roles. Until 1934, he worked in the theatre. That year, he also turned to film and later television, as a character actor. Guest stared as a WWI veteran Buzz Crowder on the TV series Cheers. His career lasted many decades and included many classics; his last screen credit was in 1990.
Ian Wolfe appeared in many notable films, including Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942), Julius Caesar (1953), James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and George Lucas's THX 1138 (1971). Although he was American by birth, his experience in theatre gave him a precise diction, and he was often cast as Englishmen on screen, including a fictional Commissioner of Scotland Yard in the final film in the 1939-1946 Sherlock Holmes film series, Dressed to Kill (1946) (he also appeared as an American antiques dealer in another film in the series, Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943), and Carter, Sir Wilfrid's clerk and office manager in Witness for the Prosecution (1957).
Wolfe played a crooked small town doctor in "Six Gun's Legacy", an episode from the first (1949) season of The Lone Ranger. In it, he plots to cheat a man out of his inheritance by using a look-alike to collect the payment. The episode is unusual in that it featured white collar crime, though at the end, true to formula, Wolfe draws on The Lone Ranger and has his gun shot from his hand. Wolfe appeared in the 1966 Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Midnight Howler" as Abel Jackson. In 1966, he portrayed the new Rev. Leighton on The Andy Griffith Show ("Aunt Bee's Crowning Glory", broadcast October 10, 1966), where in an attempt to impress, Aunt Bee wears a wig. He also appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek television series: "Bread and Circuses" (1968) as Septimus, and "All Our Yesterdays" (1969) as Mr. Atoz, guest-starred in a 1977 episode of the ABC crime drama The Feather and Father Gang, and portrayed the wizard Traquil in the cult series Wizards and Warriors (1983). In 1982, Wolfe had a small recurring role on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati as Hirsch, the sarcastic, irreverent butler to WKRP owner Lillian Carlson, played by Carol Bruce.
Central to Wolfe's appeal as a character actor was that, until he reached actual old age, he always looked considerably older than he actually was. In the 1935 film Mad Love, he played Colin Clive's stepfather, yet he was only four years older than Clive. In the 1953 film Houdini, he warned the magician to avoid occult matters, telling him to "take the advice of an old man". He would appear in movies for another 37 years; his last film credit was for Dick Tracy (1990).
Wolfe wrote and self-published two books of poetry, Forty-Four Scribbles and a Prayer: Lyrics and Ballads and Sixty Ballads and Lyrics In Search of Music.
Ian Wolfe continued acting until the last few years of his life and died of natural causes at the age of 95 on January 23, 1992.