Dave Willock, whose light airs and perennial smile made him a congenial sidekick or comedic favorite in more than 200 films and a handful of TV variety shows, died Monday at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 81 and a daughter, Nancy Cowan, said he died of complications of a stroke.
In a career that spanned five decades, Willock portrayed congenial neighbors, ardent suitors and an assortment of handymen or juvenile leads in musicals, war adventures, high dramas and Westerns.
On television he was on "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show" in 1968, "Do It Yourself" with Cliff Arquette in 1955, "Margie" in 1961-62 and "The Queen and I," a 1969 Thursday night CBS comedy.
Willock was a lifelong friend of actor Jack Carson and left the University of Wisconsin in 1931 to join Carson in vaudeville. When Carson landed a radio show in the mid-1940s, Willock followed him there playing both Tugwell, Carson's flighty neighbor, and the little girl next door.
In 1942 alone he was seen in five films: "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "The Fleet's In," "Two Yanks in Trinidad," "Lucky Jordan" and "Priorities on Parade."
He made several of the dramas prevalent during World War II--"30 Seconds Over Tokyo," "Wing and a Prayer," "Pride of the Marines"--and one of the psychodramas that Hollywood turned to after the war, "Spellbound."
Willock possessed one of the most familiar faces in Hollywood but one that also could confound passers-by.
Cowan recalled one instance when her father was stopped on the street and asked, "Say, aren't you supposed to be somebody?"
Other survivors include his wife, Rae, four other daughters, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.