Melvin “Mellie” Presar, age 93, died Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Glendale, Calif.
He was born Aug.4, 1920 in Wapakoneta, Ohio to David and Caroline (Lunz) Presar who preceded him in death. He married Beverly Wilson Presar in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who preceded him in death. His three brothers, Emil, Harold, Howard, and a sister Florence Ruck preceded him in death.
He is survived by two sons, Greg (Cindee), in Santa Rosa, Calif. and Gerry in Seattle, Wash.; a daughter Beth (Michael) Harper in Elizabethtown, Ky.; two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and longtime close friend, Noreen Benenato.
Melvin was a hardworking family man who was born into a family of musicians. He started playing piano when his sister taught him how to chord. He attended Blume High School but dropped out of school to help on the family farm. After serving four years in the army as a medic in the Pacific during World War II, he decided to go west with hopes of landing work in the entertainment business. From Hollywood he went to work in the orchards in Washington, then to Lake Placid, N.Y., where he was a cook and part-time entertainer. He returned to Ohio where he married and worked as a Fuller Brush salesman. Eventually Melvin returned to Hollywood with his family. He became a very successful exterminator for 26 years with many customers who were movie stars and entertainers. Along with his job, he found time to play at piano bars and sometimes playing and singing on cruise ships. He also sang in a barbershop chorus for many years.
Melvin got his big break when he auditioned and landed a spot on “The Gong Show”, where he won by flapping his arms as he clucked to “In the Mood”. Chuck Barris was so impressed with Melvin’s chicken act that he was written into “The Gong Show” movie, and had to join the Screen Actors Guild. Though retired, he still performed for residents at senior community centers and rest homes.
As Mellie once said, “For a high school dropout who made it in Hollywood, the Lord works in wondrous ways.”
He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif. In recognition of his singing with the Barbershop Choirs in Glendale, Calif.
Memorial contributions may be directed to Harmony Foundation International Inc., 110 7th Ave. N, Nashville, Tenn. 37203.