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Danny Wells
Actor Danny Wells.jpg
Wells in 2009
Jack Westelman

(1941-04-07)April 7, 1941
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died November 28, 2013(2013-11-28) (aged 72)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actor
Years active 1972–2013

Jack Westelman (April 7, 1941 – November 28, 2013), known as Danny Wells, was a Canadian actor. He was best known for his role as Charlie, the bartender on The Jeffersons, as well as his role as Luigi in the live-action/animated series The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.

Early life and career

Wells was born in Montreal, Canada to Eli Westelman (died April 4, 1996) and Eunice Trottenberg (died September 20, 1987) on April 7, 1941. His acting career spanned more than 4 decades, beginning in 1972 on the comedy television show Love, American Style.

Danny Wells playing the live-action role of Luigi
Wells playing his role as the first live-action Luigi from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.

In 1975 Wells made his film debut in The Strongest Man in the World. He then went on to appear in a string of successful movies including Private Benjamin (1980) starring Goldie Hawn and Eileen Brennan, The Woman in Red (1984) starring Gene Wilder, Magnolia (1999), and The Last Kiss (2006) where he played the Uncle of Michael Weston's character Izzy.

Over his prolific career, Wells did most of his work in television, starring or making guest appearances in more than 80 television shows and movies, including Sanford and Son, CHiPs, The A-Team, and The Fall Guy. In 1975, he starred in the most notable role of his career: "Charlie the Bartender", on the hit television show The Jeffersons. Wells played Charlie as a recurring role throughout the entire 11 season run until the show was cancelled in 1985.

In the 1970s, he portrayed the store manager in television ads for Kmart department stores.

Wells began doing voice work in 1982 when he voiced the character of Stomper #1 in the Ralph Bakshi film Hey Good Looking. From there he went on to voice numerous characters for film, television and video games, including Descent 3 and Wizardry 8. His first television series was Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats (1984), which lead to the film Heathcliff: The Movie in 1986.

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

Wells voiced several other animated series such as Batman: The Animated Series, Grossology and Johnny Bravo, but it was in 1989 that Wells starred in and voiced the animated character that he is perhaps best remembered by younger audiences as Luigi from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.

In an interview with "Slam" magazine, Wells recalled the popularity of the show: "We went on the air, three o'clock in the afternoon, with no publicity or P.R. at all. There was no pre-build-up to this show, nothing ... they just threw us out there. In three weeks, we became number one. We beat Disney, we beat everybody, without any publicity, without any help from anybody, this show went to the number one daytime cartoon show. They put us up against Mickey Mouse, it didn't matter, we beat them. It was amazing."

In 2002, Wells starred as film executive Jack L. Warner in the made-for-television movie "Gleason" starring Brad Garrett as Jackie Gleason.

As composer, Wells wrote the music for the 1979 CBS TV movie Never Say Never starring George Kennedy and Anne Schedeen.

The Jeffersons

According to his cousin, television reviewer Alan Sepinwall, Wells worked steadily throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1975, Wells landed the role of "Charlie the Bartender" on the CBS television show The Jeffersons. His character, Charlie, owned "Charlie's Bar" on the first floor of the Colby East luxury apartment building where the Jeffersons and Willises resided. On the show, Wells' character would offer advice to the residents. A running gag throughout the show's run would be that someone (more often than not, Lionel) would be having drinks with George Jefferson (played by Sherman Hemsley), and Charlie would hand them the bill, as George would have already sneaked out before paying.

Charlie the Bartender quickly became a recurring role and towards the end of the series, he even had a few central episodes written specifically for him. In season 9, episode 5 ("Charlie's Angels"), Charlie borrows money from Tom Willis (played by Franklin Cover) in hopes of upgrading his bar and increasing business by way of risque dressed waitresses. Louise (played by Isabel Sanford) and Helen (played by Roxie Roker) take offense when they feel that the changes are exploiting the women. At the beginning of the final season, Charlie is facing eviction. George becomes partners with Charlie and buys the bar. In episode 17 of season 11, ("A Secret in the Back Room") it is discovered that Charlie has been sleeping in the back room due to a serious drinking problem that has separated him from his wife. George and Louise help him get his life back together. In another episode, Charlie's bar is just breaking even. Louise plans to put the bar back in the black with a private party for a biker gang ("The Gang’s All Here").


Wells died in Toronto on November 28, 2013 of cancer at the age of 72. He was buried in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. For fans of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Wells' death was poignant since it was Nintendo's "Year of Luigi" and the 30th Anniversary celebration of the character (1983). His obituary states that "Danny followed his dreams ... he made them laugh." Wells' headstone inscription reads: "Keep 'em laughing."



Year Title Role Notes
1975 The Strongest Man in the World Drummer Film debut
1975 Whiffs Civilian Doctor
1976 Gus Referee
1976 The Shaggy D.A. Police Official
1978 Going Coconuts Al
1980 Private Benjamin Slick Guy
1981 Body and Soul Announcer #1
1982 Hey Good Lookin' Stomper (voice)
1984 The Woman in Red Maitre D'
1991 Life Stinks Mercedes Driver
1999 Magnolia Dick Jennings
2001 Protection Ryan
2002 Swindle Lieutenant Jackson Craig
2006 The Last Kiss Izzy's Uncle
2007 Song of Solomon Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg Short
2011 Textuality Mitch
2012 Old Stock Harold Last film


Year Title Role Notes
1972–1973 Love, American Style Fred, Bellhop 2 episodes (television debut)
1973–1974 Lotsa Luck Ernie Kaplan 2 episodes
1974 Columbo Bookstore Clerk, Gary Keppler 2 episodes
1974–1976 Sanford and Son Danny Taylor, Haywood Jones 3 episodes
1975–1985 The Jeffersons Charlie the Bartender 23 episodes
1976 Kojak Riggs Episode: "On the Edge"
1976 Flo's Place Abner Television movie
1976–1977 What's Happening!! Bert Frederick/Undercover Cop 2 episodes
1977 The Hunted Lady Wally Television movie
1978–1979 Carter Country Slippery Sam 2 episodes
1979–1981 Eight Is Enough Easy Art, Ed Foster 2 episodes
1979–1981 CHiPs Gordy, Phil Davies 3 episodes
1980 Nobody’s Perfect Careful Eddie 2 episodes
1982 Lou Grant Vince Episode: "Jazz"
1982 Happy Days Mr. Parker Episode: "Chachi's Future"
1983–1984 The A-Team Film Director, Artie Simmons 4 episodes
1984 Murder, She Wrote Talk Show Host Episode: "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes"
1984 Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats Bush, Raul, General, Announcer (voices) 4 episodes
1984–1985 Silver Spoons Waiter 2 episodes
1983–1986 The Fall Guy Alex, Mel Bresins 2 episodes
1986–1989 Small Wonder H.L., Eddie, Discount Dale 3 episodes
1987 The Real Ghostbusters Cyrus Spengler (voice) Episode: "Cry Uncle"
1989 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Luigi, Aunt Luigeena, Luigeena, Luigi Bob 65 episodes
1985–1991 Hunter Jake Flam, Murray Green 2 episodes
1990 Barnyard Commandos Unknown role (voice) Unknown episodes
1993 Renegade Athletica 2000 M.C. 2 episodes
1993 Batman: The Animated Series Guard (voice) Episode: "Birds of a Feather"
1997 Johnny Bravo The Bull (voice) by Here?"
1998 Oh Yeah! Cartoons Guy, Thom, Hungry #4, Hungry #5, |Hungry #7 (voices) 2 episodes
1999-2000 Crashbox Announcer (voice) 28 episodes
2002 Gleason Jack L. Warner Television movie
2004 Potatoes and Dragons King Hugo III (voice) 78 episodes
2006–07 Grossology The Detective (voice) 6 episodes
2009 Willa's Wild Life Gus (voice) Main Role
2011 Scaredy Squirrel Lars Von Stacking (voice) Guest Role, Episode: "Awaken the Stacker Within"
2012 The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas! Unknown role (voice) Television movie
2013 Rookie Blue Walter Episode: "For Better, for Worse" (final appearance)

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1999 Descent 3
2002 Evolution Worlds
2005 Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Captain Arthur Partridge
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