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Bernard Fox, Actor on Classic 60s Sitcoms, Dies at 89
By RICHARD SANDOMIR DEC. 15, 2016 (NYT)
Bernard Fox, a Welsh-born actor who spotted the iceberg that sank the Titanic in A Night To Remember and went on to play memorably daffy characters on the sitcoms Bewitched and Hogan's
Heroes, died on Wednesday in Van Nuys, Calif. He was 89.
A spokesman, Harlan Boll, said the cause was heart failure.
Mr. Fox was probably best known for his role on Bewitched : Dr. Bombay, the flamboyant family doctor regularly summoned to reverse spells and devise potions for Samantha Stephens, the witch played by Elizabeth Montgomery, and her family.
Mr. Fox endowed Dr. Bombay, a warlock, with a dotty rectitude and utter confidence, reinforced by his crisp and friendly British accent.
In an interview with the fan site bewitched.net, Mr. Fox said: If I'd just gone for an ordinary doctor, you wouldn't have heard any more about it. But because I made him such a colorful character, that's why they wanted him back.
He was easy to write for, he added. They came up with the idea of him coming from different parts of the world all the time, and in different costumes.
Indeed, he appeared in a wet suit, a football uniform, a toga, a towel, a laboratory isolation suit and a matador costume.
Mr. Fox whose signature mustache, with its twirled ends, could suggest officiousness or a distinct lack of seriousness experienced the lot of the hard-working character actor: His face and voice were extremely recognizable, but his name was not.
On Hogan's Heroes, a comedy improbably set in a German prisoner-of-war camp in World War II, Mr. Fox returned several times as the bumbling Col. Rodney Crittendon of the Royal Air Force. Crittendon was naive and incompetent, the bane of the highly efficient Colonel Hogan, played by Bob Crane. The character, Mr. Fox once said, was a much bigger idiot than Dr. Bombay.
Mr. Fox established himself as a regular television presence in the 1960s with appearances on comedies like Make Room for Daddy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, "I Dream of Jeannie and The Andy Griffith Show and dramas like Perry Mason, 12 O'Clock High and Burke's Law.
He was born Bernard Lawson on May 11, 1927, in Port Talbot, Wales. His parents, Gerald Lawson and Queenie Barrett, both actors, eventually divorced. He ran away from home before he was 18 to join the Royal Navy, Mr. Boll said, and served on a minesweeper, where he met an officer who inspired his portrayal of Dr. Bombay.
He started acting onstage as a child in Britain, then continued after the war. In 1958, as the lookout in A Night To Remember, he was in the crow's nest of the Titanic when he reported, Iceberg dead ahead, sir!
Nearly 40 years later, in James Cameron s Oscar-winning Titanic, he played the first-class passenger Col. Archibald Gracie IV, who survives the ship's sinking in the North Atlantic in April 1912. (The real-life Colonel Gracie died later that year.)
He used to say, I'm the only person to have survived the Titanic twice, Mr. Boll said of Mr. Fox.
When Mr. Fox appeared as a cheating husband in the Feydeau farce 13 Rue de l Amour at the Circle in the Square Theater in 1978, Walter Kerr wrote in The New York Times that he speaks as glibly as need be while maintaining a sturdy, confident control over his mannerisms.
He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline; a daughter, Amanda; and two grandchildren.
For Mr. Fox, the role of Dr. Bombay did not end with Bewitched. He reprised it in the late 1970s on the show's short-lived spinoff, Tabitha, and two decades later on Passions, a daytime soap opera, when witches became part of the plotline.
In his first appearance as Dr. Bombay, he treated the cold of an unusual patient, Samantha's mortal husband, Darrin (played by Dick York), with a magical medication.
These pills will do the trick, Mr. Fox says.
Antibiotics? Mr. York asks.
Antibiotics, Mr. Fox says, coolly confident in his concoction, only bore a cold to death.