Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Two Character Actors Pass On

Two character actors, each of their faces familiar from several television appearances, died recently.

The first was Dabs Greer, who passed on Saturday at the age of 90 from complications from heart and kidney disease. Greer was born April 2, 1917 in Fairview, Missouri. While still a baby his family moved to Anderson, Missouri. He started acting at the age 8 in children's theatre productions. He attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. From 1940 to 1943 he headed the Little Theatre in Mountain Grove, Missouri. He later moved to the Pasadena Playhouse in California.

He made his film debut in 1938 while still living in Missouri. He was an extra in Jesse James. Greer appeared in small, uncredited, movie roles for a few years before finally guest starring in an episode of Dick Tracy (1950) as Shakey. From then on most of his work would be in television. Greer guest starred on The Lone Ranger, Father Knows Best, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Adventures of Superman, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, and several other series. He had a recurring role on Gunsmoke as storekeeper Wilbur Jonas, on Little House on the Prairie as preacher Reverend Robert Alden, minister Reverend Henry Novotny on Picket Fences, and Grandpa Fred Stage on Maybe It's Me.

Greer eventually graduated from uncredited movie roles to more substantial material. He appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It! The Terror from Outer Space, and The Cheyenne Social Club. His remembered movie role may have been as the older Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks' character) in The Green Mile.

The other actor to die recently was both a recognisable face to many and very well known. Tom Poston was a regular on many TV shows, appeared in movies, and even acted on Broadway. He died Monday at the age of 85 from a brief illness.

Tom Poston was born in Columbus, Ohio. He attended Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia, but dropped out during World War II to join the U. S. Army Air Corps. He served in the European Theatre, reaching the rank of Captain. After the war he went to New York City to study acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

He made his first appearance on Broadway in 1947 in Cyrano de Bergerac, in which he played five different roles. Poston would go onto appear on Broadway in Stockade in 1954, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter in 1955, The Conquering Hero in 1961, and in the revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1972.

Poston made his television debut in 1950 in an episode of Lights Out. He would appear in episodes of Studio One and Goodyear Television Playhouse before his first claim to fame, as the amnesiac in the "Man in the Street" interviews on The Steven Allen Show in 1956. Poston would go onto guest star in such shows as The Phil Silvers Show, The Defenders, Get Smart, St. Elsewhere, and Good Morning, Miami. He was a regular on such shows as On the Rocks, Good Grief, Mork and Mindy, and Grace Under Fire. He was a regular panellist on To Tell the Truth and What's My Line. Perhaps his most famous TV role as the clueless handy man George Utley on Newhart.

On film Poston appeared in The 1963 version of The Old Dark House, Cold Turkey, and The Story of Us.

He made his first appearance on Broadway in Stockade in 1954.

1 comment:

Nell Minow said...

A very graceful tribute to two deserving performers. I always like to see the character actors reognized and these were two of the greats.