James Noble, who played the governor on the sitcom Benson as well as many roles on stage, died on March 28 2016 at the age of 94.
James Noble was born on March 5 1922 in Dallas. He studied both engineering and drama at Southern Methodist University for a time before serving in the United States Navy during World War II. Following the war he studied acting at he Actor's Studio in New York. He served as an assistant stage manager on The Big Knife on Broadway in 1949 before making his acting debut on Broadway in The Velvet Glove later that year. He made his television debut in an episode of The Actor's Studio in 1950.
In the Fifties James Noble had a recurring role on the soap opera The Brighter Day and guest starred on Studio One. In the Sixties he was a regular on the soap opera The Doctors. He had recurring roles on the daytime serials As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and A World Apart. He guest starred on East Side/West Side, The Defenders, Directions, and Coronet Blue. He made his film debut in What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968). He appeared on Broadway in A Far Country and Strange Interlude.
Beginning in the Seventies James Noble played the absent minded Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling on Benson. He played the role from 1979 to 1986. He guest starred on McCloud, The Addams Chronicles, The Andros Targets, Starsky and Hutch, and Hart To Hart. He had recurring roles on the soap operas One Life to Live and Another World. He appeared in the films The Sporting Club (1971), Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1971), 1776 (1972), Who? (1973), Dragonfly (1976), Death Play (1976), 10 (1979), Promises in the Dark (1979), and Being There (1979). He appeared on Broadway in The Runner Stumbles.
In the Eighties James Noble continued to appear on Benson. He was a regular on the short lived series First Impressions. He guest starred on such shows as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Faerie Tale Theatre, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, The Bill, and Murder, She Wrote. He appeared in the films Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), A Tiger's Tale (1987), You Talkin' to Me? (1987), Paramedics (1988), and Chances Are (1989).
In the Nineties he guest starred on such shows as Law & Order, Harry, City Central, and Where the Heart Is. He appeared in the film Bang (1995). In the Naughts he appeared in the film Glacier Bay (2006) and guest starred on The Royal. In the Teens he appeared in the films Consequential Lies (2011) and Fake (2011).
James Noble was brilliant as Eugene X. Gatling on Benson, the kind hearted but scatter brained governor. Indeed, it is hard picturing any other actor in the role. Of course, Mr. Noble played many other sorts of roles. In fact, throughout his career he was cast as medical doctors in everything from Promises in the Dark to Chances Are. A good number of his guest appearance on television were as, well, doctors. That having been said, he played much more than doctors. He was the priest Father O'Flanagan in Airplane II: The Sequel, the President's Chief of Staff in Being There, and even important figures in American history (Jonathan Sewell in the mini-series The Addams Chronicles and Thomas Jefferson in the TV movie Equal Justice Under Law). Throughout his career James Noble played a wide variety of roles.