Marty Ingels, the comic and voice-over actor who later became one of the industry’s most powerful talent agents and was married to actress Shirley Jones, died of a massive stroke Wednesday at the age of 79 at Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California.
The goofy, raspy-voiced comedian was born Martin Ingerman in Brooklyn in 1936, and after a short service in the Army, moved on to become an actor, working at the Pasadena Playhouse in Los Angeles. He first charmed audiences in the 1960s when he starred alongside John Astin in the short-lived ABC comedy I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, a series about a pair of oddball carpenters that went on to become a cult favorite. He appeared on the silver screen as well, landing roles in The Picasso Summer and If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.
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The next decade would see Ingels transition his comedic chops into a slew of voice-over roles, landing parts in commercials, cartoons (he voiced AutoCat in the series Motormouse and Autocat in 1969), and even the arcade game-inspired Pac-Man series in 1982, in which he played — who else? — the eponymous, notorious chompster. During that time, he began another career as well, opening a talent representation firm called Ingels Inc. There, he worked with actors like John Wayne, Orson Welles (he helped Welles land the Paul Masson Wines commercials), and Marlon Brando, with whom he tussled with over the actor’s infamous decline of an Oscar for his work in The Godfather.
And then there’s Shirley Jones, his wife of nearly 40 years. The mismatched pair (“I was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn and she was Miss America,” Ingels once said) met in 1974 at a party thrown by actor Michael Landon, married in 1977, and chronicled their marriage in their co-written autobiography Shirley & Marty: An Unlikely Love Story in 1990. The couple often made appearances together. In 2009, Ingels accompanied Jones on her visit to The View, during which his sense of humor was on full display: He arrived wearing a Dr. Hannibal Lecter mask and happily took out a prop flask to guzzle at the end of the segment, prompting cheers from the audience. “He drives me crazy,” Jones jokingly told the co-hosts. “Actually, he’s a little quieter at home, but you give him an audience, one person, and it’s all over.” At that, Ingels laughed.
Over the course of his career, Ingels made frequent guest appearances on popular TV shows, from The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched to Baywatch and Murder, She Wrote. And he never stopped working: Most recently, he appeared on CSI and New Girl, lending his comedic chops to every role.
Ingels is survived by Jones, three stepsons (from Jones’ earlier marriage), a niece, and 12 grandchildren.