Stoutly proportioned yet dignified character actor Howard Wendell was known for his skill and reliability in a screen career lasting three decades -- according to his grandson, he was referred to by those who knew his work as "one-take Wendell." Born Howard David Wendell in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1908, though he considered Elyria, Ohio, where he was raised, to be his home. His acting career began with work in a minstrel show, and he later appeared on a radio show broadcast out of Cleveland, Ohio. Wendell worked with the Elyria Playmakers, and was later an apprentice at the Cleveland Playhouse. Later, while traveling across the midwest as an actor, he also began directing plays and acting in summer stock, and subsequently moved on to road show productions in the northeast. By the end of the 1940s, he'd amassed some Broadway credits as well, and made his small-screen debut on Colgate Theatre. By 1952, he was in Hollywood and working in feature films, most notably Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953). Wendell proved adept at older character parts, including politicians, doctors, business executives, judges, and other authority figures -- in Lang's film, he was memorable as an incompetent and crooked police chief, who is seen harassing the honest members of his force and kowtowing to his city's worst gang elements. Perhaps Wendell's strangest appearance was in Edward L. Cahn's The Fourt Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1958), in which he portrayed a medical doctor whose skill at saving lives gets him killed -- his character appears, decidedly postmortem, in the guise of a severed head in the vault of the villain. Wendell could also do comedy, and appeared in his share of sitcoms, including The Dick Van Dyke Show. Although he officially retired in 1963, Wendell went on to do appearances in episodes of I Dream of Jeannie Batman in the later 1960s, and he gave his final screen performance on an episode of Adam-12 in 1971.