Biography: He was not quite as short as you would think, standing five-foot-six. Wally Cox LOOKED like he was only 5' 2", or shorter. His small, nerdy features and mousy voice led to a long, fruitful career in playing mild-mannered, nerdy characters. In real life, he was anything but. One of his great hobbies was motorcycle riding. And he HATED his character of Mr. Peepers, calling him "Mr. Goodboy" when Cox referred to himself as "a terrible person". But his looks and his voice worked, and an extremely memorable Hollywood personality was born.
Wally Cox was childhood friends with legendary actor Marlon Brando; a
friendship that endured a lifetime. As a matter of fact, Marlon
Brando kept Cox's ashes in his closet, and when Brando passed away in
2004, both of their ashes were scattered at the same time in Death
Valley, California, reuniting the two friends.
Cox did an incredible amount of acting work, but his first regular
leading role was that of Robinson Peepers in the series "Mister
Peepers". Although it lasted only one season, it established
Cox's onscreen persona once and for all. The series has since
become a cult favorite. His next series, "The Adventures of Hiram
Holliday", had a pretty good run of three seasons, but for some strange
reason is not as well remembered or as highly regarded as the earlier
"Mister Peepers". Truth be told, "Hiram Holliday" probably suited
him the best of any role he had. Hiram was thought to be a meek
little nobody, but looks can be deceiving, can't they? It was
discovered by the publisher of a newspaper, where Hiram worked as a
low-level flunky, his incredible range of skills that would make
someone like James Bond or Charlie Chan green with envy. The
publisher sends the "nerd" around the world with another reporter, Joel
Smith (played by Ainslie Pryor), to document his adventures. This
premise was good enough to last three seasons, until Ainslee Pryor died.
Then there was no need to fear, Underdog was here! Wally Cox
became and still IS "Underdog". This series was easily the best
of any of cartoonist Jay Ward's many animated series. His voice
was absolutely perfect for the dual personality of Shoeshine
Boy/Underdog. Cox's goofy, enunciated voice was perfect for the
timing of the limited animation, giving the lovable pup more of a
humorous punch to his dialogue. It's hard to imagine anyone else
doing Underdog in a cartoon.
In 1966, Cox became one of the celebrity personalities on the game show
"Hollywood Squares". This is pretty much the first time anyone
saw the real Wally Cox. He didn't act mild-mannered at all, but
often sarcastic and ironic. I guess, for a game show, that's
okay, but a lot of people preferred his acting roles. "Hollywood
Squares" was a long, successful stint lasting up to the time he passed
away, in 1973.
Only 48 when he died, Wally Cox left an incredible body of work and
played a great many humorous characters that are still as true and
Peepers" (1952-1953 TV Series) as
"The Adventures of Hiram Holliday" (1956-1959 TV Series) as Hiram Holliday.
"Underdog" (1964-1973 TV Series) as Underdog (voice).
"Hollywood Squares" (1966-1973) as Himself.
Burke's Law- Who Killed the Card?
(May 5, 1965)