LOS ANGELES -- The manager and friends of Richard Deacon, the character actor known for his comical stuffed shirt roles, said Friday they will honor the late entertainer in a memorial tribute at a local theater.
Deacon, 62, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Wednesday night, coroner's spokesman Bill Gold said. He had summoned paramedics to his Beverly Hills home and was rushed to the hospital. He died of an apparent heart attack.
Robert Prete, his personal manager, said the memorialtribute would be scheduled the latter part of next week.
'Richard didn't want a funeral,' Prete said. 'He will be cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.'
Deacon, best known for his role as the grumpy Mel Cooley in the 1960s television series, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' had been an actor for 40 years, playing in more than 100 feature movies with about 1,000 television appearances, Prete said.
Although Deacon performed in numerous television shows, his role as the unsmiling Cooley in the Van Dyke comedy, earned him the widest recognition.
Deacon, however, was most proud of his role in the 1950s movie, 'Desire,' starring Marlon Brando and Gene Simmons, Prete said.
Deacon made his start while studying medicine in upstate New York, where he became involved in the university's theater department and decided to come to California to pursue acting.
'The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' 'Blackboard Jungle,' 'Good Morning, Miss Dove,' and 'The Young Philadelphians' are several of his better-known feature movies.
Most recently, Deacon was called back to play Mr. Rutherford, also known as Lumpy's father on 'Leave it to Beaver.' Walt Disney Productions had scheduled to begin shooting in September with the entire original cast from the popular 1960s show returning.
'He was the loveliest man,' Prete said. 'One of the kindest men I've ever known.'
'He wasn't a typical celebrity. About the only regret I think he ever had was not playing sensitive characters.'
Rose Marie, a close friend who played comedy writer Saly Rogers on the Van Dyke show, said, 'I've lost someone very, very dear and very treasured and I think our business has lost a great talent.'