Li’l Abner star Peter Palmer dead at 90: Burly Broadway and film star passes away just one day after his birthday
Peter Palmer, a veteran of stage and screen, has died at the age of 90.
The actor’s son Steven announced the news of his father’s passing in a touching Facebook post on Tuesday.
Palmer had celebrated his 90th birthday just one day before his death and, according to his son, spent his final days surrounded by family and friends.
RIP: Peter Palmer, a veteran of stage and screen, who stared as the titular character in Li’l Abner, has died at the age of 90
‘It’s with a sad heart that I announce the passing of my father, Peter Palmer, The day after his 90th birthday,’ read a social media post by Steven Palmer.
‘As a family we knew this was coming and that’s why we had such a wonderful celebration of his Birthday this weekend.
‘He enjoyed being celebrated by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and friends and extended family. Gonna miss you, Pops.’
The tribute to his late father came complete with a series of nostalgic photos from Peter’s acting days, including shots from his most famous role as the titular character in Li’l Abner.
Bittersweet: Palmer had celebrated his 90th birthday just one day before his death and, according to his son, spent his final days surrounded by family and friends
Palmer, who was some six foot three, originated the role on Broadway and went on to reprise his role as the hillbilly in the film version. The show is based on a comic strip of the same name.
He would go on to star opposite Carol Channing in the 1974 film Lorelei and have bit roles on television and in film throughout the 70s and 80s.
Prior to acting, Palmer played football at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the early 1950s. He studied voice at the school was a legendary baritone.
While playing ball in college, his team won the Big Ten championships twice as well as the Rose Bowl.
Claim to fame: Palmer, who was some six foot three, originated the role of L’il Abner on Broadway and went on to reprise his role as the hillbilly in the film version
Peter was well known at the University for singing the National Anthem in his football uniform before every single home game.
‘I came to Illinois known as a football player who could sing and left as a singer who could play football,’ he once told the Fighting Illini in 2018. ‘It was such a thrill for me to sing the anthem before the games. It ranks up there with anything I ever did.’
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Palmer was discovered singing Granada on The Ed Sullivan Show after winning a spot to perform in a singing contest while serving in the Army.
He soon auditioned for the title role of Li’l Abner, for which he would go on to win a Theatre World Award.
Palmer was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 20, 1931. He was married twice and fathered six children. Peter’s second wife, actress Aniko Farrell, died in 2011.
Before: Peter played football at the University of Illinois and was known for singing the National Anthem in his football uniform before every single home game
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