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'Naked City' Actor Paul Burke Dies
Burke, who had leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, died with wife Lyn at his side at his home in Palm Springs, family spokeswoman Daniela Ryan said.
Burke was featured in dozens of TV series in his four-decade career, including prominent parts on "12 O'Clock High" and "Dynasty."
In a pair of notable big screen appearances in the late 1960s he played a cop who chased upscale art thief Steve McQueen "The Thomas Crown Affair" and had the leading male role in the tale of young women and Hollywood excess "Valley of the Dolls."
Burke was born in New Orleans in 1926. His father was a boxer, Martin Burke, who had once fought heavyweight champion Gene Tunney.
The family ran a restaurant and nightclub in the city's French Quarter during World War II called Marty Burke's, where Paul Burke spent much of his time before leaving for Southern California to pursue an acting career at 19.
Burke said seeing that seeing the sad characters pass through the club gave him a sense of purpose.
"I stayed up late watching the barflies, the brawlers," he told TV Guide in 1962. "I listened to the stories of wasted lives, I watched the effect of wasted lives. It gave me a strong feeling of urgency about my own life."
He studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse, and after a slew of bit guest spots on television shows, he landed his first starring role in 1956 playing veterinarian Dr. Noah McCann in the short-lived series "Noah's Ark."
Four years later he joined "Naked City" in its second season, when it changed from a half-hour to an hour drama. Burke played the brooding detective Flint on the show famous for its dark, quasi-documentary style. It allowed him to practice his craft with future stars like Robert Duvall and Dustin Hoffman, who made guest appearances.
"Acting is more exciting than living — more electric, more immediate than living," he told TV Guide at the time. "That's because life is full of random elements. In acting, you select, you choose the elements. This selection allows you to get to the essence of the character, the essence of an experience."
Burke would move on to play an Air Force colonel in the adventure show "12 O'Clock High," where he met his actress wife Lyn.
He continued getting steady work into his 60s, including a recurring role in the primetime soap opera "Dynasty" from 1982-1988.
His last part was in the 1990 film "The Fool." He had since retired to Palm Springs.
In addition to his wife, Burke is survived by three children from his first marriage, Paula Burke-Lopez, Paul Brian Burke and Dina Burke-Shawkat.
Funeral plans were pending.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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