Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tom Reese Passes On

Tom Reese, who made numerous guest appearances on TV shows, appeared in movies from 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962) to North Dallas Forty (1979), and played Sgt. Velie on the cult TV show Ellery Queen, died on December 12 2017 at the age of 89.

Tom Reese was born Tom Allen in Chattanooga, Tennessee on August 8 1928. His father Austin Allen and his uncle Lee Allen comprised a country music duo known as The Allen Brothers. The Allen Brothers saw some success in the Twenties, but following the Great Depression they decided to leave the music business. Austin Allen took up work in construction and eventually moved to New York City. Tom Reese worked a variety of odd jobs as a young man before serving in the United States Marine Corps for five years. Following his service he studied acting at the American Theatre Wing and then joined John Cassavetes's Actors Workshop.

Given he was part of the Actors Workshop, it should come as no surprise that he made his television debut in John Cassavetes's TV series Johnny Staccato in 1959. He made his film debut the same year in John Cassavetes's movie Shadows. Mr. Reese had a busy year on television in 1960, guest starring on such shows as M Squad, Gunsmoke, The Man from Blackhawk, Law of the Plainsman, My Sister Eileen, Have Gun--Will Travel, Route 66, and Death Valley Days. He appeared in the movie Flaming Star (1960).

In the Sixties Tom Reese guest starred on such shows as Lawman, The Twilight Zone, Dobie Gillis, The Untouchables, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, The Wild Wild West, Rawhide, Bonanza, The Guns of Will Sonnett, The High Chaparral, and Land of the Giants. He appeared in such films as Marines, Let's Go (1961), 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962), Taggart (1964), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Murderer's Row (1966), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), and Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969).

In the Seventies Tom Reese played Sgt. Thomas Velie on Ellery Queen from 1975 to 1976. He guest starred on such shows as Monty Nash, Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man, Kung Fu, Emergency!, Gunsmoke, Police Woman, Wonder Woman, CPO Sharkey, and Chico and the Man. He appeared in the films Vanishing Point (1971), The Outfit (1973), The Wild Party (1975), North Dallas Forty (1979), and Defiance (1980).

In the Eighties Mr. Reese guest starred on such shows as Simon & Simon; The A-Team; Knight Rider; Moonlighting; Murder, She Wrote; and Paradise. His last appearance on screen was in the movie Dark and Stormy Night (2009).

On screen Tom Reese was the consummate tough guy. In fact, he was famous for doing his own fight scenes, and continued to do so for much of his career until he realise he was keeping stuntmen out of work. This is not to say that Mr. Reese did not have talent for something other than throwing a punch. He played the apostle Thomas in The Greatest Story Ever Told, gangster Ted Newberry in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and Coach Waddy in North Dallas Forty. Of course, he may be best known to many people as Sgt. Velie on Ellery Queen, Inspector Queen's loyal right hand man. Tom Reese may have been famous for his fight scenes, but he was capable of much more.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

We'll all remember him fondly, and continue to appreciate his work.