Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Al Checco R.I.P.

Al Checco, a character actor who appeared in dozens of TV shows and served in the U.S. Army with Don Knotts, died July 19 2015 at the age of 93.

Al Checco was born on July 21 1921 in Pittsburgh. During World War II he served in the United States Army. Eventually he was assigned to a unit meant to entertain the troops. Among the other men in the unit was Don Knotts, whose ventriloquism act often followed Al Checco's singing act. The two men would remain friends for their rest of their lives. Following the war Mr. Checco attended Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh where he received a degree in drama. He made his debut on Broadway in 1948 in An Inspector Calls. He also appeared on Broadway in the Forties in Lend an Ear.

In the Fifties Al Checco made his television debut on an episode of Tales from Tomorrow in 1952. He guest starred on such shows as Robert Montgomery Presents, The Phil Silvers Show, and Playwrights '56. He appeared on Broadway in the productions Buttrio Square and Carnival in Flanders.

In the Sixties Al Checco had a recurring role on Mister Ed as newspaper editor Joe King. He guest starred twice on The Andy Griffith Show, playing opposite his old Army buddy Don Knotts. He also guest starred on such shows as Bronco, The Donna Reed Show, Dobie Gillis, The Munsters, Gomer Pyle USMC, Perry Mason, Run for Your Life, Batman, The Flying Nun, The Big Valley, and The New Doctors. He appeared in the films The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964), The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), Hotel (1967), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Party (1968), and Bullitt (1968).

In the Seventies Mr. Checco appeared on such shows as Medical Centre, Mod Squad, Bonanza, The F.B.I., The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Adam-12, Ironside, Here's Lucy, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files, and Quincy M.E. He appeared in the TV movie Helter Skelter. He appeared in such movies as Skin Game (1971), The World's Greatest Athlete (1973), The Terminal Man (1974), and How to Beat the High Co$t of Living (1980).

From the Eighties to the Naughts Al Checco guest starred on such shows as Dallas, Knight Rider, Highway to Heaven, Kate & Allie, Growing Pains, Becker, and Scrubs. In the Nineties he appeared in Crazy For You on Broadway.

Al Checco was a true character actor, playing a wide variety of roles throughout his career. He was the newspaper editor on Mister Ed, a bank robber on The Andy Griffith Show, one of The Penguin's henchmen on Batman, a pool room owner on The Streets of San Francisco, and real life supermarket executive Leno LaBianca in the TV movie Helter Skelter (based on the Charles Manson case). The parts he played in movies and even TV shows were often rather small, but he always gave a fine performance and left an impression.

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