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Jeffersons Actor Ned Wertimer, aka Ralph the Doorman, Dies at 89

Ned Wertimer Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

Ned Wertimer, the veteran character actor best known for playing money-grubbing doorman Ralph Hart on The Jeffersons, has died. He was 89.

His longtime manager, Brad Lemack, told The Hollywood Reporter that Wertimer passed away on Jan. 2 at the Sherman Valley Health Care Center in California due to complications he suffered following a fall in his Burbank home in November.

Appearing as Ralph in 51 of the sitcom's 253 episodes, the thesp garnered plenty of laughs badgering Sherman Hemsley's George Jefferson for big tips, for which he was hated by Jefferson and the other residents in their East Side high-rise.

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But despite his greedy demeanor, in one particularly poignant episode George actually paid Ralph $100 as a thank-you for cluing him in that the dry-cleaning entrepreneur had accidentally set his son Lionel up with a hooker.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., on Oct. 27, 1923, Wertimer got his start as an assistant stage manager before turning to acting.

In 1950, he was cast as a police officer in the TV series Rocky King, Detective. Other character parts soon followed on such shows as Car 54, Where Are You?, Get Smart, Gunsmoke, I Dream of Jeannie, Mary Tyler Moore and Love, American Style.

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During the '70s and '80s, he appeared on a string of beloved sitcom classics including Happy Days, Welcome Back, Kotter, WKRP in Cincinnati, Mork & Mindy and 227. After taking the '90s off, he returned to the spotlight in 2002 with a guest shot on The Practice. His final role was playing a singing gallows pirate in 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

He is survived by his wife, a sister-in-law, a niece and three nephews.

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