William Duell

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William Duell
Born George William Duell[1]
(1923-08-30)August 30, 1923
Corinth, New York, U.S.
Died December 22, 2011(2011-12-22) (aged 88)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Respiratory Failure
Other names Darwin William Duell
(name legally changed during childhood)[1]
Occupation Film actor
TV actor
Stage actor
Years active 1961–2011
Spouse(s) Mary Barto (m. 2004)
Parent(s) George Leon Duell
Eliza Janet née Harrington

William Duell (August 30, 1923 – December 22, 2011) was an American actor and singer. He was known for his roles as Andrew McNair in the musical 1776, Jim Sefelt in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Johnny the Shoe Shine Guy on the 1982 crime comedy series Police Squad! Described as a short, odd-looking character actor with a Shakespearean background, he had many minor roles in plays, films and TV series. His last work was a cameo in the 2003 film How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Early life and career

He was born George William Duell in 1923 in Corinth, New York, to E. Janet (Harrington) and Leon George Duell, an employee of the International Paper Company.[2] Sometime in his youth, his mother legally changed his name to Darwin William Duell. Duell never cared for his first name and thus always went by his middle name, William. Duell graduated from the Green Mountain Junior College (now Green Mountain College) (Vermont), Illinois Wesleyan University, and Yale University. A theater scholarship at Green Mountain College is named after him.

He portrayed Congressional custodian Andrew McNair in the Broadway version of 1776, which made him the one actor who stayed throughout the entire run of the show and was never understudied; he also played the part in the 1972 film of the musical. In the 1997 Broadway revival of 1776 Duell was a replacement member of the cast, filling the role of Caesar Rodney after Michael McCormick took on the role of John Adams.[3] In 2010, he appeared in a one-night only staged reading of Evening Primrose by Stephen Sondheim.[4]

Later life and death

Duell married his wife, Mary Barto, in 2004. Duell died of respiratory failure in December 2011.[1] He was 88.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "William Duell, Puckish Character Actor, Dies at 88". The New York Times. January 6, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. http://www.filmreference.com/film/54/William-Duell.html
  3. "Cast Replacements for the 1997/1998 revival of 1776". Trivia. Retrieved October 5, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Portantiere, Michael (2011). "Back into the light". The Sondheim Review. Sondheim Review, Inc. XVII (3): 44. ISSN 1076-450X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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