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Paul Burke ( 1926 - 2009 )  Category ( Actor_Actress ) [suggest a correction]

When he took the role of Adam Flint in "Naked City" in 1960, Paul Burke didn't need to do a lot of research on police work.

His grandfather had been a cop, and his father (an ex-professional boxer) ran a nightclub in New Orleans that often gave the city's finest a place to exercise their billy clubs and drunk wagons.

"I grew up watching the drifters," Burke told TV Guide in 1963. "I stayed up late watching the barflies, the brawlers ... 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. I knew that without a long-range purpose it would be dry, empty, unfulfilled."

Or short.

So he gravitated toward acting, which he later called "more exciting than living -- more electric, more immediate, than living. That's because life is full of random elements. In acting, you choose the elements."

Burke began his quest at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he learned to act. Then he struggled up the ladder over the next decade while he and first wife Peggy Pryor raised three children. Eventually, his father came to live with them, as well.

After over 100 bit roles on television programs and in films, Burke got his first break when he was cast as veterinarian Adam McCann in "Noah's Ark," a series produced by Jack Webb of "Dragnet" fame. That show lasted only a year, but got Burke the lead in another series, "Harbormaster," in 1957.

"Naked City" elevated Burke onto the fringes of stardom, allowing him to turn Flint into an unusual cop -- tough, yet thoughtful and introspective. In 1964, Burke moved to "12 O'Clock High," his last lead television role.

The last time Paul Burke made a serious impression on movie audiences was in 1967, when he played philandering lawyer Lyon Burke in “Valley of the Dolls.” After that, his career went into something of a decline, although he did pop up occasionally in guest roles on programs like “Medical Center,” “Hawaii 5-0” and “Medical Center.” He became “you know, that guy … “

For all practical purposes, Burke’s life in Hollywood ended in his hometown in 1990, when he and New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. were indicted for racketeering.. According to the indictment, Burke persuaded Connick to return gambling records seized from Big Easy bookmaker Walton Aucoin, a childhood friend of Burke.

The case went to trial, but Burke and Connick were acquitted. Nevertheless, Burke complained that movie and TV roles were closed to him after that, so he retired.

Burke died of leukemia Sept. 13, 2009 at his home in Palm Springs. He was 83.

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