This stage-trained veteran character player has had a long and varied career playing mousy little men in films and TV since the late 1940s. Short, plump, often bespectacled and perpetually balding, Fiedler has a look that defies the ravages of time. Somehow never truly young, he could never really grow old.
Fiedler could just have easily played many of his 50s roles in the 70s and vice versa. Often ridiculous or flustered, he segues smoothly between drama and comedy playing inoffensive Milquetoasts and unctuous men of petty authority. In addition, his distinctive vocal squeak (sort of like Sterling Holloway with a higher, whinier edge) makes him a memorable voice actor in animated films and TV specials. He proved a pleasantly pragmatic Piglet in several Disney-produced Winnie the Pooh outings, voicing the gentle character from the first feature film, "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," in 1968 through a score of big and small screen projects to "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" in 2005. He also lent his distinctive tones to such Disney animated projets as "Robin Hood" (1973), "The Rescuers" (1977), "The Fox and the Hound" (1981) and "The Emperor's New Groove" (2000)
Fiedler may still be best known as the nervous and ineffectual Mr. Peterson, one of Dr. Hartley's more likable patients for five seasons (1973-78) of "The Bob Newhart Show," a classic CBS sitcom. Hardcore TV buffs, especially aficionados of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, will recall him from guest shots on "The Twilight Zone"--on the entries "Night of the Meek" (CBS, 12/23/60) as the boss of Art Carney's drunken department store Santa Claus and "Cavender is Coming" (CBS, 5/25/62) as one of the supervisor of Carol Burnett's guardian angel--and a "Star Trek" episode entitled "Wolf in the Fold" as an official investigating Scotty's possible involvement in a series of Jack the Ripper-like murders. Fiedler also had a recurring role on "Kolchack: The Night Stalker" (ABC, 1974-75) as Gordon (aka "Gordy the Ghoul") Spangler, a helpful morgue attendant. His resume of television guest appearances include an amazing array of TV classics from the 60s through the 90s, including "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," "Dr. Kildare," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Bonanza," "My Favorite Martian," "The Fugitive," "The Munsters," "Perry Mason," "Gunsmoke," "The Donna Reed Show," "Bewitched," "Get Smart," "I Spy," "The Odd Couple," "Alice," "Quincy" "The Rockford Files," "Fantasy Island," "Hart to Hart," "Cheers," "The Golden Girls," "L.A. Law" and "Cosby." He also played a dual role on the daytime drama "One Life to Live" in 1987.
Theater devotees may first think of Fiedler as Karl Lindner, the only non-African-American character in Lorraine Hansberry's landmark drama "A Raisin in the Sun." He was the formal little fellow from a neighborhood "improvement association" who arrives at the apartment of the Youngers, a Black family planning to relocate into his middle-class, mostly white area, offering a substantial sum if they do not become his new neighbors. Fiedler would recreate this role in the 1961 feature version, the 1986 off-Broadway revival, the 1986 Kennedy Center production in Washington, DC, the 1987 touring company production and the 1989 "American Playhouse" production on PBS. One could say that Fiedler has "dibs" on the role.
Fiedler entered films in a classic drama of the NYC "realist" school, Sidney Lumet's "Twelve Angry Men" (1957). He was Juror Number 2, an unassuming bank clerk not used to formulating his own opinions. Many feature roles followed throughout the 60s with such credits as Billy Wilder's underrated "Kiss Me, Stupid," "The World of Henry Orient" (both 1964), "The Odd Couple" (1968) and "True Grit" (1969). In the 70s and 80s he was more frequently seen in TV movies and more freewheeling features such as Disney's "The Shaggy D.A." (1976), "Harper Valley P.T.A." (1978) and, with Burt Reynolds, "The Cannonball Run" (1981) and "Sharkey's Machine" (1981). He remained busy on stage throughout his career, even becoming a member of New York's Ensemble Studio Theatre in the 80s and appearing in a 1996 off-Broadway production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" directed by Tony Walton.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Early stage credits, played Student in "Danny Larkin" and Paw in "Cock-a-Doodle Do", both Experimental Theatre productions in NYC
Toured US cities with the U.S.O. in "The Milky Way"
TV acting debut, a guest shot on "The Aldrich Family"
Feature acting debut, played Juror number two in "Twelve Angry Men", directed by Sidney Lumet
Originated the role of Karl Lindner, the sole white character in the original Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"
Recreated the role of Lindner for Daniel Petrie's film version of "A Raisin in the Sun"
Originated the role of Vinnie in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple"
Recreated the role of Vinnie for the film version of "The Odd Couple"
TV-movie debut, "A Tattered Web", a CBS thriller
First voice work in a Disney cartoon, provided the voice of Owl in the feature "The Rescuers"
Provided the voice of Porcupine in Disney's "The Fox and the Hound"
First provided the voice of Piglet for "Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore", a Disney animated feature released in 16mm
Recreated the role of Linder for off-Broadway production of "A Raisin in the Sun"
Recreated the role of Linder for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts production of "A Raisin in the Sun" in Washington, DC
Recreated the role of Lindner for the national touring company of "A Raisin in the Sun"
Recreated the role of Lindner for the "American Playhouse" production of "A Raisin in the Sun" on PBS
Provided the voice of Piglet for "Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too", an animated children's special on ABC
Returned to daytime TV in short-term role on ABC's "All My Children"
Co-starred in off-Broadway production of "The Importance of Being Earnest"
Voiced Piglet in "The Tigger Movie"
Reprised his role as Piglet in "Piglet's Big Movie"