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Ray Walston: More than a Martian

Published: 1/2/2013

Photo of Ray Walston as Uncle Martin from the television program My Favorite Martian. (Wikimedia Commons/CBS Television)

Ray Walston, everyone's favorite Martian, died Jan. 1, 2001. We look back at the life and career of the Emmy Award-winning actor. (Wikimedia Commons / CBS Television)

There was a time when Ray Walston worried that he would always be a Martian.

For the generation that watched Walston play Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian, the actor may as well have had antennae growing out of his head – he was that strongly identified with the role.

But when My Favorite Martian was cancelled after its third season, Walston's fans learned that he was so much more than a Martian. A versatile actor, he went on to a wide variety of roles, both light and serious. Walston was the dad of a sailor man when he costarred with Robin Williams in Popeye.

He was a farmhand, in 1992's Of Mice and Men, alongside Gary Sinise and John Malkovich.

He played a judge in Picket Fences, winning two Emmys.

And he found fame with a new generation when he played tough teacher Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. His scenes with slacker Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) are classics.

Walston died at 86 after a career that lasted more than 40 years. We hope he'll excuse the many fans who still remember him as a Martian – most of us remember him for that and much more.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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