Friday, January 28, 2011

Actor Bruce Gordon R.I.P.

Actor Bruce Gordon, who played gangster Frank Nitti on The Untouchables, passed on January 20, 2011, at the age of 94.

Bruce Gordon was born February 1, 1916 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He made his debut on Broadway in the musical The Fireman's Flame in1937. He would go on to appear in such plays on Broadway as Arsenic and Old Lace (1941), King Richard II (1951),The Pink Elephant (1953), The Lark (1955), and Diamond Orchid (1965). He made his movie debut in The Naked City in 1948. He would have his first substantial film role with Love Happy (1949).

Throughout the Fifties Mr. Gordon appeared frequently on television. He played the lead in the 1958-1959 series Behind Closed Doors. In the Westingohouse Desilu Playhouse episode "The Untouchables" he played Al Capone's second in command and heir apparent Frank Nitti. When the episode was spun off into a series in 1959, Bruce Gordon was  semi-regular in the same role. He also appeared on such shows as The Goldbergs, The Man Behind the Badge, You Are There, Studio One, The United States Steel Hour, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Kraft Theatre, M Squad, Zane Grey Theatre, Whirlybirds, Have Gun--Will Travel, Alcoa Presents One Step Beyond, Playhouse 90, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, 77 Sunset Strip, and Gunsmoke. He also appeared in the films The Buccaneer (1958), Curse of the Undead (1959), and Key Witness (1960).

In the Sixties Bruce Gordon played Gus Chernak on the show Peyton Place. He appeared on such shows as Maverick, Peter Gunn, Death Valley Days, Route 66, Car 54 Where Are You, Naked City, The Defenders, Perry Mason, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., He & She, Get Smart, Mannix, Tarzan, Ironside, and Bonanza. He appeared in the films Rider on a Dead Horse (1962), Tower of London (1962), Slow Run (1968), and Hello Down There (1969).

From the Seventies into the Eighties Mr. Gordon appeared in such shows as Here's Lucy, Adam-12, The Doris Day Show, Banacek, The Fall Guy, and Simon & Simon, He appeared in the films Piranha (1978) and Timerider (1982).

Bruce Gordon was a versatile actor. In his long career he played cops and criminals, grocers and grandfathers. And he did all of them well. Although best known as Frank Nitti on The Untouchables, he should be remembered for much more.

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