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CNN Today

Actor Ray Walston Dies at Age 86

Aired January 2, 2001 - 4:55 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, on to a bit of a memory. A figure who was in passing for us today. From the devil to a Martian; a teacher to a judge; the various roles that Ray Walston portrayed extended his appeal across generational lines. He died today at the age of 86.

CNN's Cynthia Tornquist looks back at the stage, movie, and TV career of Ray Walston.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CYNTHIA TORNQUIST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ray Walston played a Martian stranded on Earth in the 1960's TV sit-com "My Favorite Martian."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MY FAVORITE MARTIAN")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Just call me chicken.

RAY WALSTON, ACTOR: Perhaps I should. After all, as a very wise man once told me, the chicken is not infrequently the true dove of peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TORNQUIST: Walston made a career of playing cranky, wise- cracking characters. He won Broadway's Tony Award in 1955 for his portrayal of the Devil in "Damn Yankees," a role he would later reprise on film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DAMN YANKEES")

WALSTON (singing): Like the hopes that were dashed when the stock market crashed; those were the good old days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TORNQUIST: He won back-to-back Emmys in 1995 and 1996 for his role as the no-nonsense judge on television's "Picket Fences."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PICKET FENCES")

WALSTON: That closing argument was disgusting. In 42 years on the bench, I've never seen anything more prejudiced than what you just did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TORNQUIST: The night he was handed his first Emmy, he could not have been more pleased

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSTON: After being in the business for quite a long time, you feel all of a sudden that you belong. You feel that, well, I've been in it a long time and I guess I can say that as far as television goes, what were Sally Field's words? They like me. They like me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TORNQUIST: It took Walston decades to receive that recognition from Hollywood. He spent many years typecast in his "My Favorite Martian" role before landing a string of supporting jobs on television and film.

His movie credits include parts in "South Pacific" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." It was his portrayal of the crusty teacher in that 1982 teen comedy that became his career comeback and introduced him to a new generation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: May I come in?

WALTON: Oh, please. I get so lonely when I hear that third attendance bell ring and all my kids are not here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TORNQUIST: Ray Walston was 86.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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