Carl William Demarest was born February 27, 1892 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
As an infant, his family moved to New Bridge, New Jersey.
After serving in World War I, Demarest started out working in vaudeville, appearing with his wife as “Demarest and Colette.”
He then performed on Broadway before his film career began in 1926.
Demarest worked regularly with director Preston Sturges, becoming part of a “stock” troupe of character actors that Sturges repeatedly cast in his films.
Demarest went on to appear in ten films written by Sturges, eight of which were under his direction, including The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.
In 1958, Demarest appeared with veteran western film star Roscoe Ates in an episode of CBS’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents “And the Desert Shall Blossom.”
In 1959, he was named the lead actor of the 18-week Love and Marriage sitcom on NBC for the 1959–1960 season. Demarest played William Harris, the owner of a failing music company who refuses to handle popular rock and roll music, which presumably might save the firm from bankruptcy.
Demarest then appeared as Aloysius, Chief of the Santa Rosita Police Department, in the 1963 Movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” starring Spencer Tracy.
My Three Sons
Demarest’s most famous TV role was in the ABC (and then CBS) sitcom My Three Sons from 1965 to 1972.
He played Uncle Charley O’Casey, replacing William Frawley, who left the show due to failing health.
Demarest had worked with Fred MacMurray previously in the 1935 film Hands Across the Table, the 1945 film Pardon My Past, the 1948 film On Our Merry Way and the 1955 film The Far Horizons and became a personal friend of MacMurray.
He also appeared on a memorable episode (What’s in the Box) of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone co-starring as a hen-pecked husband driven to murder of his wife.
Demarest received a single Academy Award nomination, for his supporting role in The Jolson Story, playing Al Jolson’s fictional mentor.
He had previously shared the screen with the real Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer.
Demarest also received an Emmy nomination for the 1968–1969 season of My Three Sons as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy role.
Demarest worked on over 140 films during his prolific career and enjoyed hunting, fishing, golf and playing the cello.
William Demarest died of a heart attack on December 28, 1983 in Palm Springs, California. At the time of his death he had been suffering from prostate cancer and pneumonia.
He was interred in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.
Demerest has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to motion pictures.
In 1998, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
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