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Allan Melvin, center, plays Barney Hefner in a scene from a 1981 episode of the "Archie Bunker's Place" television series.

TRAVERSE CITY -- Television viewers grew to love Allan Melvin as a sitcom sidekick, and the actor was just as winning off-camera.

Melvin, 84, died of cancer Jan. 17 in Los Angeles. He spent many summers in northern Michigan, where he and his wife Amalia Melvin have a house on South Lake Leelanau.

"He was always playing the leads' best friends, best pal, and that's what he was with everybody," said Amalia, in a Monday telephone interview from Los Angeles.

Popular television shows "All in the Family," "The Phil Silvers Show" and "The Brady Bunch" gave Melvin a chance to portray chummy characters, such as his notable role as butcher Sam Franklin, beau of the Brady's maid. Melvin performed on the iconic Brady series from 1970 to 1973.

His additional roles included Barney Hefner, friend of Archie Bunker, on "All in the Family" and Cpl. Henshaw on "The Phil Silvers Show."

Melvin was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1923, grew up in New York and attended Columbia University. As a boy, he traveled with his family to northern Michigan in the summers, said Amalia. They were married for 64 years, and it was Melvin who "insisted" after about four decades of marriage that his wife visit the area.

"We loved it," said Amalia.

The couple summered here for about 25 years, she said.

"He was jovial and clever and had a way with a phrase ..., just a regular, good guy," said Amalia. "He'll be missed."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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