William Pierson, 78; Veteran Actor of Stage, Screen and Television

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

William "Billy" Pierson, 78, a veteran stage, film and television actor who reprised his "Stalag 17" Broadway role as Marko the Mailman in Billy Wilder's 1953 film version of the World War II POW drama, died of respiratory problems Aug. 27 at a healthcare center in Newton, N.J.

Pierson, known for his distinctive, raspy delivery, also appeared on Broadway in "High Button Shoes," "Make Mine Manhattan" and "Reuben, Reuben." After Wilder brought him to Hollywood, he appeared in films such as "Operation Madball" and "Fun With Dick and Jane."

The Brooklyn-born Pierson also was a regular in the early 1950s drama "Martin Kane, Private Eye" and the mid-1970s sitcom "The Cop and the Kid." He appeared in more than 150 television shows, including "Studio One," "Omnibus," "The Facts of Life" and "Diff'rent Strokes."

His last stage appearance was a supporting role in a national company of "The Odd Couple" about six years ago.

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