Birth Date: July 21 1947
Birth Place: N/A
Most impressionable as the sensitive, cherubic-faced college student/boyfriend of Liza Minnelli in The Sterile Cuckoo, actor Wendell Burton was born in Texas on July 21, 1947. His father, an Air Force technical sergeant, was killed in a plane crash when he was only 5. As a result his family relocated to Washington State to be near relatives. He majored in political science and public speaking at Somona State College and joined in a few campus stage productions. By chance, at the insistence of a friend, he auditioned for and won the title role in the San Francisco production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Instead of returning to college, which he had planned after the show's end, he was "discovered" during the show's run by "Sterile Cuckoo" director Alan J. Pakula and chosen over hundreds of more experienced film actors to play Jerry Payne opposite Minnelli's Pookie Adams in the bittersweet campus romance that became an unqualified hit. He and Minnelli are still identified with the movie's touching Oscar-nominated song "Come Saturday Morning." In order to avoid the fresh-off-the-bus typecasting, Wendell took on the role of "Smitty" in the controversial screen adaptation of Fortune and Men's Eyes in which he played a naive young inmate who is raped shortly after entering prison, then degenerates into a sexual predator himself by film's end. He balanced this with a Hallmark TV adaptation of his "Charlie Brown" musical. The small screen proved a viable medium for the young actor in the early 70s with above-average mini-movie roles in "Murder Once Removed," "Go Ask Alice," and "The Red Badge of Courage." He also played Dick Van Dyke and Hope Lange's son for one season on the comedy star's "new" show.
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