Celebrated actor, producer, director and composer Roger Perry passed away Thursday, July 12 of prostrate cancer at home with his loving wife, Joyce Bulifant, holding his hand. He was 85.
Born in Davenport, Iowa, Perry was discovered by Lucille Ball, who put him under contract to Desilu Studios. After signing to co-star with Pat O’Brien in the TV series Harrigan and Sons, he moved to Universal Studios, where he co-starred with Chuck Connors and Ben Gazzara in the 90-minute ABC drama Arrest & Trial.
A popular guest star on many network programs, including Star Trek, Love, American Style, Ironside, The F.B.I., Hawaii Five-O, Barnaby Jones, The Bob Newhart Show, Quincy, C.H.I.Ps, and The Fall Guy, Perry had regular roles on such shows as The Facts of Life and Falcon Crest, while his film credits include Follow The Boys with Connie Francis, Roller Boogie with Linda Blair, The Thing with Two Heads with Ray Milland and Rosie Greer, The Cat and Count Yorga, Vampire, both of which co-starred Craig T. Nelson and Mariette Harley. Also an accomplished stage actor, Perry’s starring credits in the theatre included productions of Gypsy, Annie, They’re Playing Our Song, Mr. Roberts, Once Upon A Mattress, Anything Goes, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Goodbye Charlie, Lovers And Other Strangers, and Love Letters.
Perry also composed the music for Make A Promise, Keep A Promise, which premiered at the Doolittle Theater in Hollywood, and the score for the musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, a production in which he co-starred himself, along with his wife, Joyce Bulifant, at Theatre East in Los Angeles. In addition, Barbra Streisand performed “A Kid Again,” a song written by Perry, in her first TV special, My Name is Barbra, plus he directed and wrote the music for Asphalt And Concrete, a short film starring his son Chris Perry, and photographed by his brother, Nick Perry.
Together, Perry and Bulifant also starred in The First Hundred Years (produced by John Forsythe), Hanging By A Thread with Patty Duke, and The Happiness Bench, with Mariette Hartley and John Aniston. In recent years, they performed together in many benefit productions for children’s programs and charity.
Perry is survived by his wife, Joyce Bulifant, his brother Nick Perry, his son Chris Perry, his daughter Dana McNerney and grandson Parker McNerney as well as all of the Asher-MacArthur and McClure children and grandchildren, which made up Roger’s blended family. Services are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Bridge Regional Center for Abused Children in Glenwood Springs CO, which Roger Perry and Joyce Bulifant founded together.