Robert Sterling, 88, Star of ‘Topper,’ an Early TV Ghost Story

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Robert Sterling, the handsome star of 1940s movies who appeared with his wife Anne Jeffreys in the television series “Topper,” died Tuesday at his Brentwood home. He was 88, and died of natural causes, his family said..

Although he appeared in dozens of movies, Sterling was best known for the 1953-1956 TV series “Topper,” based in part on the 1937 film starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett.

Sterling and Jeffreys played George and Marion Kerby, a fun-loving couple killed in an accident but returned as ghosts to haunt the new occupant of their home, a banker named Cosmo Topper.

Robert Sterling was born William Hart in November 13, 1917 in New Castle, Pa. He worked as a clothing salesman before breaking into movies.

He proved a versatile player, especially in romantic roles, and appeared in five films in 1941, including the romantic comedy “Two-Faced Woman” with Greta Garbo and “The Penalty” with Lionel Barrymore.

After “Topper,” Sterling continued to be cast in feature roles on television. In the 1960s, he appeared on “Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” among many others.

By the 1970s, he had mainly retired from acting, except for the occasional guest role on “Fantasy Island” and the like. He went into business, at first in computers, and later as a manufacturer of golf clubs.

Anne Jeffreys had a more durable acting career, including a regular role on “General Hospital” as Amanda Barrington, a wealthy society widow.

Sterling was married to actress Ann Sothern from 1943 to 1949 and they had a daughter, actress Tisha Sterling.

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