Society

'Sterile Cuckoo' Star Wendell Burton Dies At 69

| by Michael Howard

Actor and singer Wendell Burton, best known for his role alongside Liza Minnelli in "The Sterile Cuckoo," has passed away at the age of 69.

Burton's daughter, voice and stage actress Haven Burton, told The Hollywood Reporter that the actor died in his home on May 30 after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.

Wendell made his acting debut in 1969 when he starred opposite Minnelli in "The Sterile Cuckoo." He played the character of Jerry Payne, a college freshman in upstate New York who meets and falls in love with Minnelli's character, Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams. Minnelli received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance.

In 1973, Wendell portrayed Charlie Brown in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," produced by NBC/Hallmark Hall of Fame. He also appeared in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit "Butterflies Are Free" (1972), the prison drama "Fortune and Men's Eyes" (1971) and the romantic comedy "Goodnight Jackie" (1974).

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Wendell acted on television as well, doing guest spots on shows like "Medical Center," "Kung Fu," "Room 222," "Young Dr. Kildare," "Love American Style" and "The Rookies," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Wendell's personal website noes that, before the '70s were over, he had co-founded the Christian-oriented Hollywood Free Theater and began a career as a singer-songwriter. His first album, released in 1978, was titled "Wendell." He made three more albums before joining the Christian Broadcasting Network, aka The Family Channel, where he worked as an account executive and later became the director of the west coast sales team.

"In 1997, a mutual friend connected him with a young man named Joel Osteen, who was building a new full power television station in Houston, Texas," according to the "about" section of his website. "Wendell moved to Houston to help with the effort, serving as Director of Programming and National Sales."

"After Joel’s father, Pastor John Osteen, passed away in 1999, Wendell served at the station for another two years before transitioning to the pastoral staff at Lakewood Church," the website goes on to note. "Serving with the entire Osteen family and the dedicated members of the church staff has been one of the great honors of his life."

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On Twitter, Joel's mother, Dodie Osteen, described Wendell as a "special, wonderful friend" and "a mighty man of God."

Wendell is survived by his wife, Linda, and his two children, Haven and Adam, as well as a grandson and son-in-law.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, WendellBurton.com, Dodie Osteen/Twitter / Photo credit: Pixabay

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