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Character actor Johnny Seven dead at 83

January 26, 2010 |  4:25 pm


Johnny Seven, 83, a prolific character actor who appeared in dozens of TV episodes that included a recurring role as Lt. Carl Reese on "Ironside," died Friday at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, said his son, John A. Fetto. He had lung cancer.

In a five-decade career, Seven appeared in about 80 productions and had small roles in such films as "The Last Mile" (1959), "The Apartment" (1960) and "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" (1966). He starred in "Navajo Run," a 1964 western that he also directed and produced.

Seven was born John Anthony Fetto II on Feb. 23, 1926, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Italian immigrant parents who also had five daughters. He acquired his nickname during World War II, when he was serving with the Army in the Philippines, and held onto it when he began his acting career.

"It probably sounded cool in the 1950s," his son said Tuesday.

Seven had begun singing and acting as a teenager and performed in USO shows during the war. Back in New York, he acted in stage productions and in the early days of live television.

His many TV credits include roles on "The Phil Silvers Show," "Mike Hammer," "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse," "Rescue 8," "The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor," "The Untouchables," "Naked City," "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Get Smart," "Batman," "Vega$," "CHiPs," "Trapper John, M.D." and "Murder, She Wrote."

After playing Reese in the early 1970s on "Ironside," the police drama starring Raymond Burr, he landed a recurring role on the spinoff series "Amy Prentiss."

Seven, who had a real estate business in the San Fernando Valley, was married for 60 years to his wife Edith. Besides their son, they also had a daughter, Laura Pollard. He is also survived by a grandchild and four sisters.

A memorial service is planned for 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6 at St. John Baptist de la Salle Church in Granada Hills. A celebration of life will be held afterward at the Odyssey restaurant in Granada Hills.

Instead of flowers, his family suggests donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

-- Claire Noland