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June 8, 2017

Dear Media Focus Friends and Partners,

You may have heard that dear friend Wendell Burton passed away on May 30th. His was an incredible story. His Air Force Dad died when he was 5. In college Wendell got into acting, then moved to San Francisco and landed role of Charlie Brown in a local musical. While doing his role one night he was seen by director Alan Pakula who cast him in the lead role of The Sterile Cuckoo with Liza Minnelli. (She was nominated for an Oscar.) Wendell went on to do numerous TV and film roles, such as Heat with Burt Reynolds. But Wendell became unsettled in his spirit and took a group of friends and traveled to India to seek out different spiritual teachers to find answers and inspiration. He came home very disappointed and confused. A short time later he was invited to attend a small Christian Fellowship in the Hollywood Hills and there found his answer in Christ. He joined an LA Church in 1977 and later met his first wife Patti there. They married in 1978 and had two children Haven and Adam. Wendell became out spoken about his new found faith and grew more critical of the roles he took. Early 80's his career dropped as Hollywood black listed him.

Patty and I arrived in Hollywood in 1983, and Wendell was one of the first Christians out here we met. He connected us to the Bible Fellowship in Disney Studios. From there we grew to fellowships on 12 different lots. We also helped Wendell in the beginning stages of his Hollywood Free Theatre and was Chaplain of his acting classes. One time Wendell was our guest speaker at one of our Friday Night Live meetings in the NBC commissary. During those years we were in Wendell and Patti's home numerous times. Their kids were about the same age as our girls. We can remember all the children running, playing through their house. Sadly, Wendell and Patti divorced in the early 2000's. Yes, memories bring tears.

Those Hollywood free acting classes were conducted in an old theatre. We watched actors hone their skills and some found Christ in the process. It was great! PTL!

Yesterday, we received this note from long time friend, actor/writer, faithful partners of Media Focus, Warren and wife Sharyn who were part of those early acting classes. He wrote, "I received the sad news of Wendell's passing via a FB post by his sister yesterday. So today, I was feeling nostalgic and sad... but I know he is rejoicing with Jesus in Glory."

Have sent his second wife Linda our love and prayers.

Love you all. Prayers for God's blessings
Johnny and Patty
Chaplain of Media Focus

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