Actor and musician Roger V. Burton died November 30 at his home in Santa Monica, Deadline has learned. He was 90.
At 11 years old, Burton established himself as a professional musician. He was a jazz trombonist in big bands and studio film soundtracks. After graduating from USC, he played with many musical icons including Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Johnny Ray, The Ink Spots, and many more. He was a regular on Ernst Gold studio recordings for films, as well as The Hoagy Carmichael Show on NBC.
In addition to music, Burton was invited to pursue graduate studies in the field of psychology, and given a full scholarship to Harvard University. Burton became a developmental psychology researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, with a specialty in the development of morality. He would also go on to become a full professor at SUNY Buffalo in Moral Development and Childhood Social Development. He also worked on cross-cultural studies with psychologist Yoshimasa Nakasato in Japan, and he launched a department of psychology in the University of Kuala Lumpur as a sibling school program with UB. After a full career as a professor in Buffalo, he and his wife, screenwriter and actress Gabrielle Burton, moved to Los Angele where he began his acting career.
Burton appeared in numerous commercials, TV shows and films. He appeared in Baskets as Zach Galifianakis’s father-in-law as well as the Fox series The Cool Kids. He also appeared in Shameless, My Name is Earl, Fargo, House, Two and a Half Men and the feature films Manna From Heaven and The Clapper
He also starred with Peri Gilpin (Frasier) in an upcoming short film, Old Guy, about the stereotyped depictions of aging in American media. Produced by his five daughters’ film company (Five Sisters Productions), the short was inspired by Burton’s pointing out that parts for older people often fell into simple stereotypes and got no name in scripts other than “Old Guy.”
Burton is survived by his daughters, Maria Burton, Jennifer Burton, Ursula Burton, Gabrielle Burton, and Charity Burton, his sons-in-law, David Mathieson, Aniruddh Patel, Graeme Boone, Darin Henry, Steve Duron, his sister JoDe Kielhofer, his nieces and nephews and their families, and his eight grandchildren.