Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Godspeed Bob Hastings

Bob Hastings, who played Lt. Elroy Carpenter on McHale's Navy and did voice work for cartoons ranging from Superboy on The New Adventures of Superman to Commissioner Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series, died on 30 June 2014 at the age of 89. The cause was prostate cancer.

Bob Hastings was born on 18 April 1925 in Brooklyn, New York. He was only 11 years old when he began his acting career in radio in 1936. Mr. Hastings appeared on such radio shows as Coast-to-Coast on a Bus, The National Barn Dance, The Sea Hound, This Life is Mine, and other radio shows. During World War II he served in the Army Air Forces as a B-29 navigator.

Following the war Bob Hastings provided the voice of Archie Andrews on The Adventures of Archie Andrews, based on the popular "Archie" comic book feature. He played the role from 1945 to 1953. In the Fifties he also provided voices for the radio show X Minus One. Bob Hastings made his television debut in the recurring role of Hal on Captain Video and His Video Rangers. He was also a regular on the series Atom Squad and Kitty Foyle. In the Fifties he guest starred on such shows as The United States Steel Hour; Tom Corbett, Space Cadet; Armstrong Circle Theatre; The Phil Silvers Show; The Real McCoys; The Untouchables; Hennessy; and The Donna Reed Show.

In the Sixties Bob Hastings played the regular role of Lt. Elroy Carpenter on the television series McHale's Navy. He was also the voice of the raven on The Munsters. He guest starred on such shows as Car 54, Where Are You?; Pete and Gladys; Gunsmoke; Ben Casey; Dennis the Menace; The Twilight Zone; Batman; Hogan's Heroes; I Dream of Jeannie; The Flying Nun; and Green Acres. He provided voices for the Saturday morning cartoon The New Casper Cartoon Show as well as the voice of Superboy on The New Adventures of Superman. He made his film debut in The Great Impostor in 1961. In the Sixties he appeared in the films Moon Pilot (1962), McHale's Navy (1964), McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force (1965), Did You Hear the One About the Travelling Saleslady? (1968), The Bamboo Saucer (1968), Angel in My Pocket (1969), The Love God? (1969), and The Boatniks (1970).

In the Seventies Bob Hastings appeared in such films as The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Charley and the Angel (1973), The All-American Boy (1973), Airport 1975 (1974), No Deposit, No Return (1976), and Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978). On television he played Kelsey on All in the Family. He guest starred on such shows as Nanny and the Professor, My Three Sons, Emergency, Love American Style, The Odd Couple, Adam-12, Hec Ramsey, Kolchak: The Night Stalker; Ironside, The Rockford Files, Police Story, Quincy, Black Sheep Squadron, Wonder Woman, Alice, and The Waltons. He provided voices for such animated TV shows as Jeannie, Clue Club, and C.B. Bears.

In the Eighties Bob Hastings was a regular on No Soap, Radio; He guest starred on the shows The Greatest American Hero; The Dukes of Hazzard; Trapper John M.D.; Remington Steele; and Murder, She Wrote. He appeared in the films Separate Ways (1981) and Snowballing (1984).  In the Nineties Mr. Hastings provided the voice of Commissioner Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series and related shows, as well as the feature films based on the show. He appeared in the film Shadow Force (1992). 

There can be little wonder that Bob Hastings' career as a voice actor spanned nearly 75 years (from his debut on Coast to Coast on a Bus in 1936 to the video game Mafia II in 2010). Mr. Hastings was blessed with a truly versatile voice, capable of playing everything from the raven on The Munsters to various voices on Challenge of the Superfriends. Indeed, it is notable that Bob Hastings voiced some of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, voicing Archie Andrews on radio as well as Superboy and Commissioner Gordon on television. Few actors can boast that.

Of course, Bob Hastings was not simply a voice actor. He appeared on screen in many films and television shows as well. He had a particular gift for comedy and it is for his comedic roles that he seems to be best remembered. He was perfect as bumbling yes man Lt. Carpenter, Captain Binghamton's aide on McHale's Navy. He also did well in the Batman episode "Penguin Sets a Trend" as the slightly clueless Major Beasley. When it came to comedy Mr. Hastings had a great sense of timing and was capable of delivering pitch perfect performances. He was a versatile actor who could play any number of roles. Indeed, during his long career he played everything from reporters to police officers to drunks, and he did all of them well.

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