Veteran character actor Roger Perry passed away Thursday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He was 85 years old and suffered from prostate cancer. He died at home, with his wife, Joyce Bulifant, who was on the original Match Game in the 1970s as well as the wife of Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, by his side. The two had been married since 2002.
Previously, he was married to another game show vet, Jo Anne Worley (also the voice of the Wardrobe in the animated film Beauty and the Beast), from 1975 to 2000, and prior to that, he was married to Patty Perry from 1960 to 1970. He is also survived by his daughter, Dana Perry McNerney.
Perry was born on May 7, 1933, in Davenport, Iowa. He “was discovered by Lucille Ball, who put the young actor under contract to Desilu studios,” according to Broadway World. She then hired him for his first role in 1959, in which he appeared on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, playing the role of Danny Cash. From there, he appeared on countless TV shows throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
The actor was probably most known for his role as Charles Parker, the second headmaster of Eastland on the NBC comedy The Facts of Life, where he did 10 episodes starting in the third season, between 1981 to 1983.
He was also on a memorable first-season episode of the original Star Trek in 1967, titled “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” in which he played Major Christopher, who was a U.S. Air Force pilot from the 1960s who finds himself transported aboard the Enterprise in the future.
He also performed on stage in many shows, including Gypsy, Annie, Mr. Roberts, Once Upon A Mattress, Anything Goes, and Love Letters.
In addition to acting, Perry also composed and wrote songs. Barbra Streisand even sang one of his songs during her first TV special, 1965’s My Name Is Barbra — “A Kid Again.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, “he composed the scores for L.A. theater productions of Make a Promise, Keep a Promise and a musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, in which he also starred with Bulifant.”
Perry and Bulifant also starred on stage in The First Hundred Years (produced by Dynasty star John Forsythe); in Hanging by a Thread, with Patty Duke; and in The Happiness Bench, with Mariette Hartley.
While television work had slowed down once the ’90s hit, the couple had been performing in benefit productions for children’s programs and charity.
In addition to his wife and daughter, the Hollywood Reporter also listed other survivors, including his brother, Nick; son Christopher; stepchildren Charlie (and his wife, Jenny), Mary and John; grandson Parker; and step-grandchildren Riley, Ford, Daisy, and Evan.