William Demarest was another favorite character actor of mine. I first saw him in the role of "Uncle Charley" on the tv series "My Three Sons". From then on, whenever I'd see his name in the opening credits of an old movie, I knew there would be some very entertaining scenes.
I talked to Mr. Demarest by phone, in February 1980. He was listed in the Palm Springs, California telephone directory, under his real first name, Carl (the complete listing was as 'Carl W. Demarest'). I found him to be very cordial and talkative, and appreciative of his fans. He'd already been retired for a couple of years, and I remember he told me about having some of the aches and pains of old age. Another thing he told me, and was proud of it, was he appeared in the first talking movie in 1927, "A Night at Coffee Dan's".
I sent him three photos, and he signed and returned all three promptly. My favorite is this one, on which he wrote: "To Bill Cappello - I'm 88 as of 2/27/80. If anybody tells you that the last half is the best half - kick him in the ass. Best wishes, Wm. Demarest". The other two he signed can be viewed here and here.