George Winslow Cause of Death: The Life and Legacy of a Child Star

George Winslow was a child actor of the 1950s who charmed audiences with his raspy voice and deadpan humor. He appeared in several films, opposite such stars as Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis. He retired from acting at age 12 and lived a quiet life until his death in 2015. What was the cause of his death and how did he impact the film industry? Here is a brief overview of his life and legacy.

Early Career

George Winslow was born George Karl Wentzlaff on May 3, 1946, in Los Angeles, California. He broke into the entertainment business on Art Linkletter’s family-oriented radio program, People are Funny. He impressed Linkletter and the audience with his unusual voice and comedy instincts. He was nicknamed “Foghorn” for his distinctive vocal quality.

Actor Cary Grant, who heard the show and was impressed with Wentzlaff’s talent, introduced him to director Norman Taurog, leading to his roles in Grant’s films, Room for One More (1952) and Monkey Business (also 1952), which co-stars Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe. He also appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), in which he played Henry Spofford III, Monroe’s young admirer. He stole scenes from the actress, including his line about her possessing a “certain animal magnetism”.

Peak of Fame

Wentzlaff continued to appear in films throughout the 1950s, often playing precocious and witty children. He starred in Mister Scoutmaster (1953), opposite Clifton Webb, My Pal Gus (1952), with Richard Widmark, and The Rocket Man (1954), with Charles Coburn. He also appeared in television episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Blondie and Dear Phoebe. He worked with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the musical comedy Artists and Models (1955), which also featured Dorothy Malone and newcomer Shirley MacLaine.

Wentzlaff was one of the most popular and highest-paid child actors of his time. He earned $10,000 per film and had a fan club with thousands of members. He received fan mail from all over the world and was often mobbed by admirers. He was also praised by critics and peers for his natural and effortless acting style.

Retirement and Later Life

Wentzlaff decided to retire from show business at age 12, after his voice changed and he lost interest in acting. He finished school, served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, moved to Camp Meeker in the late 1970s and retired from the Postal Service a few years before his death. He lived a simple and secluded life, away from the spotlight. He never married or had children, but he had a large extended family and many friends.

Wentzlaff died of a heart attack on June 13, 2015, at age 69. His body was found by a friend the following day. A memorial service was held in Petaluma, California, in July 2015, followed by burial with military honors at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery.

Legacy and Influence

Wentzlaff left behind a legacy of memorable performances and a lasting impression on the film industry. He was one of the first child actors to have a distinctive personality and voice, rather than being a cute and innocent prop. He was also one of the few child stars who successfully transitioned from radio to film and television. He influenced many other child actors, such as Ron Howard, Macaulay Culkin, and Haley Joel Osment, who admired his comedic skills and charisma.

Wentzlaff’s films are still enjoyed by audiences today, especially his collaborations with Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He is remembered as a talented and charming actor who brought joy and laughter to millions of people. In 2021, George Winslow became the subject of the award-winning short documentary Foghorn: Child Actor, Veteran, Friend directed and produced by Diana Maciel Sànchez in collaboration with Daniel L. Bernadi, which celebrated his life and career.

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