Robert Sterling, 88, the handsome star of 1940s movies who appeared with his wife, Anne Jeffreys, in the popular television series Topper, died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home
Mr. Sterling died of natural causes after a decade-long battle with shingles, said his son, Jeffrey. Mr. Sterling's wife and other close relatives were at his bedside.
Although he appeared in dozens of movies, Mr. Sterling was best known for the 1953-1956 television series based on the Thorne Smith novel, and the 1937 film starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett.
Mr. Sterling and Ms. Jeffreys played George and Marion Kirby, a fun-loving couple who were killed in an accident but returned as ghosts to haunt the new occupant of their home, banker Cosmo Topper.
Born William Hart in New Castle, Pa., the son of Chicago Cubs catcher William S. Hart, Mr. Sterling attended college in Pennsylvania and 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, Mr. Sterling retired from acting to become a businessman.
Mr. Sterling was married to actress Ann Sothern from 1943 to 1949, and they had a daughter, actress Tisha Sterling. He married Ms. Jeffreys in 1951, and they had three sons, Jeffrey, Dana and Tyler.