December 5, 1923
November 29, 2003
A devotee of method acting made popular by The Actor's Studio in New York, Norman Burton had a long and storied career but never received much recognition. He began in the theater, appearing in the musical comedy "A Sound of Hunting" and Eugene O'Neill's four-act play "Anna Christie." His first film role came in 1956, with a bit part as a reporter in the B-grade horror film "Fright." This led to a series of TV guest appearances and small film roles. In addition to appearing on TV shows such as the fantasy sitcom "Bewitched/b and the Mel Brooks spy spoof "Get Smart," Burton had many small films roles and was one of the few actors in both "Planet of the Apes" and its sequel "Escape from the Planet of the Apes." One of his more memorable roles and a minor career highlight occurred in 1971 when he played the role of Felix Leiter in the James Bond film "Diamonds Are Forever." He also had a memorable turn as a man who saves a maintenance worker's life but is himself killed in the blockbuster "The Towering Inferno" in 1974. Subsequently, he appeared almost exclusively on TV and had one of his few recurring roles as Joe Atkinson, an IADC agent in "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman." He continued acting until 1993 and was killed in a car accident in 2003, just short of his 80th birthday.