Friday, July 2, 2010

RIP Jack Wells

Jack Wells dies
Broadcaster later went to Hollywood where he worked in radio, TV and movies

Local broadcasting legend Stu Kerr replaced Mr. Wells as "Mr. Fortune" in 1957 when Mr. Wells left WCBM to start "The Jack Wells Show," Baltimore's first morning TV show, on WJZ.

"He made this groundbreaking program a template for the type of morning variety shows so prevalent today," his son said. "Unlike Dave Garroway's 'Today Show,' Jack's programming included previously unheard examples of zaniness and risk-taking."

A letter writer to The Baltimore Sun in 1958 said the show was "nothing but a good baby-sitter for mothers who are scrambling to get breakfasts ready and pre-schoolers well out of the way."

In addition to his on-air work in Baltimore, Mr. Wells appeared in numerous TV commercials, including for Arrow Beer, in which he portrayed multiple characters in a single spot.

William Hyder, then The Baltimore Sun's TV critic, wrote in 1962 that Mr. Wells was "probably the best local practitioner of this art that looks so easy."

Mr. Wells left Baltimore in 1963 and settled in Los Angles, where hosted for five years a very popular daily afternoon telephone call in show on KABC Radio.

He also worked in TV and feature films such as "Brian's Song," which was based on the life of the late NFL player Brian Piccolo — portrayed by actor James Caan. He also appeared on "The Rifleman" and "The Doris Day Show."

For 20 years until his retirement in the late 1980s, he regularly worked on several soap operas such as "The Young and the Restless," "Days of Our Lives" and "General Hospital."

"Some shows worked and some flopped," he told The Baltimore Sun in 2008.

Mr. Wells was born in Baltimore and raised in the 2700 block of W. Fairmount Ave. He was a 1942 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, then studied art under Jacques Maroger, a proponent of the old masters' classical-realist style, at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

His son added that he "was a talented artist, illustrator and cartoonist."

Mr. Wells had lived for many years in Coldwater Canyon near Los Angeles, where his neighbors were actor Jackie Cooper, Charlton Heston and Maureen and John W. Dean III of Watergate infamy.

He had lived there with his wife of 38 years, the former Shirley Jason, a Beverly Hills real estate broker, who survives.

A memorial service will be held at noon July 10 at Havenwood Presbyterian Church, 100 Ridgely Road, Timonium.

Also surviving are a stepson, Casey Carmel of Miami; a stepdaughter, Jamie Johnston of Los Angeles; a brother, William Wells of Baltimore; a sister, June Wentworth of Marriottsville; and four grandchildren. Earlier marriages to Phyllis Spahr and Louise Rohner ended in divorce.

WELLS, Jack (Jacques Raymond Wells)
Born: 8/12/1923, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Died: 6/27/2010, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Jack Wells western - actor:
The Rifleman (TV) - 1961 (Mr. Carpenter)

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