Friday, July 13, 2007


Character actor Charles Lane, who appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows, passed away the other day. The temptation was to add "finally" to that last sentence because Mr. Lane was, after all, 102 years old. And one could almost say he was working until the end - just last year, he narrated a short film version of "The Night Before Christmas".

I don't do full-on Hat Squad tributes anymore for the people who made an impact on Toobworld; it's just such a depressing chore. But there comes a passing of an actor or other creative artist in Television whose career and life demand that attention be paid. And I think Charles Lane falls into that category. At 102 years of age, he could be said to be the Dean of Character Actors; certainly he was one of my faves, right up there with Herb Vigran, Vito Scotti, Dabbs Greer, and Phil Leeds.

Cinephiles would quickly name movies like "It's A Wonderful Life", "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", and "You Can't Take It With You" for examples of his credits. And most students of TV history would first cite his role as Homer Beldoe on 'Petticoat Junction' and as Mr. Barnsdahl on 'The Lucy Show' for his work in Toobworld. For me, his most impressive role in Television was that of the elderly patient who "memory-walked" the Heritage Trail in an episode of 'St. Elsewhere'. (I can only hope that DVD sales for the first season of that show will prove good enough to insure the rest of the series makes it to DVD.)

On his 102nd birthday back in January, I watched "The Gnome-Mobile" at work in which he played a doctor. (For most of his roles, he was a doctor, judge, banker, or some ornery skinflint.)

As Judge Petrillo on a handful of 'Soap' episodes, he made an excellent foil for the maddening antics of Jessica Tate. On 'Bewitched', he played about eight different clients at McMann & Tate - it's incredible that nobody ever noticed that they all looked so much alike!

Here then, is a list of the TV credits for Charles Lane:

"Karen" (1975) TV Series .... Dale W. Busch (1975)
"Petticoat Junction" .... Homer Bedloe / ... (23 episodes, 1963-1968)
"The Pruitts of Southampton" (1966) TV Series .... Maxwell
"Dear Phoebe" .... Mr. Fosdick (13 episodes, 1954-1955)

"Soap" .... Judge Anthony Petrillo (7 episodes, 1978)
"The Beverly Hillbillies" .... Foster Phinney / ... (7 episodes, 1963-1971)
"Temple Houston" .... Amos Riggs (2 episodes, 1964)
"The Lucy Show" .... Mr. Barnsdahl (4 episodes, 1962)
"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" .... Wayzack (2 episodes, 1961-1962)
"Dennis the Menace" .... Mr. Finch (6 episodes, 1960-1962)
"The Gale Storm Show" .... Pierce (2 episodes, 1957-1959)

The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies (1981) (TV) .... Chief

"Dark Shadows"
- Episode #1.6 (1991) TV Episode .... Antique Dealer
"L.A. Law"
- Leave It to Geezer (1989) TV Episode .... Walter
"St. Elsewhere"
- Weigh In, Way Out (1987) TV Episode
- The Girl Next Door (1987) TV Episode .... Motel Owner
"Comedy Factory"
- Side by Side (1985) TV Episode .... George McCloskey
- Village of the Motorpigs (1985) TV Episode .... Mr. Velcrows Widley
"Little House on the Prairie"
- Welcome to Olesonville (1982) TV Episode .... Jess Moffet
"Lou Grant"
- Generations (1981) TV Episode .... Rupert Hume
- Gambling (1979) TV Episode .... Mort Farber
"Mork & Mindy"
- Little Orphan Morkie (1980) TV Episode .... Judge Baker
"ABC Weekend Specials"
- The $1000 Bill (1978) TV Episode .... Walter Becker
- Arthur's Crisis (1977) TV Episode .... Doc Prichard
"Chico and the Man"
- Old Is Gold (1976) TV Episode .... Mr. Chipps
- Thursday's Child (1976) TV Episode .... James Lawrence
"One Day at a Time"
- Julie's Job (1976) TV Episode .... Herbert
"The Family Holvak"
- The Long Way Home: Part 2 (1975) TV Episode .... Deacon Hurd
- The Honeymoon (1974) TV Episode .... Mr. Fosner
"The Rookies"
- Another Beginning for Ben Fuller (1973) TV Episode .... Dealer
"Adam's Rib"
- Katey at the Bat (1973) TV Episode .... Mayor
"The Odd Couple"
- Take My Furniture, Please (1973) TV Episode .... Sid
"The Sandy Duncan Show"
- Play It Again Samuelson (1972) TV Episode .... Judge
"Temperatures Rising"
- Ellen's Flip Side (1972) TV Episode .... Briggs

- School Days, School Daze (1972) TV Episode .... Mr. Roland
- The Warlock in the Gray Flannel Suit (1971) TV Episode .... Mr. Cushman
- Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1971) TV Episode .... Mr. Jameson
- Samantha's Magic Potion (1970) TV Episode .... Mr. Harmon
- Make Love Not Hate (1970) TV Episode .... Mr. Meikeljohn

- You're So Agreeable (1967) TV Episode .... Mr. Shotwell
- Humbug Not To Be Spoken Here .... Mr. Mortimer
- Speak the Truth (1965) TV Episode .... Ed Hotchkiss
"Nanny and the Professor"
- One for the Road (1971) TV Episode .... Ticket Seller
- Nanny on Wheels (1970) TV Episode .... Driving Inspector
"The Debbie Reynolds Show"
- Hurray for Our Side (1970) TV Episode .... Samson
"The Flying Nun"
- The Breakaway Monk (1969) TV Episode .... Mr. O' Reilly
"Green Acres"
- The Rummage Sale (1968) TV Episode .... Mister Wilson
"Judd for the Defense"
- The Grand Old Man (1968) TV Episode .... Baliff
"Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."
- The Prize Boat (1967) TV Episode .... Charlie
- Pay Day (1964) TV Episode .... General Richards
"The Wild Wild West"
- The Night of the Hangman (1967) TV Episode .... Roger Creed
"He & She"
- The Old Man & the She (1967) TV Episode .... Immigrations Officer
"Love on a Rooftop"
- Low Calorie Love (1967) TV Episode
- My Husband, the Knight (1966) TV Episode
"Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre"
- Dear Deductible (1966) TV Episode .... Charles Eckhardt
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
- The Pop Art Affair (1966) TV Episode .... Mr. Harrison
"F Troop"
- Reach for the Sky, Pardner (1966) TV Episode .... Mr. S. A. MacGuire
"The Munsters"
- The Most Beautiful Ghoul in the World (1966) TV Episode .... Holmes
"Honey West"
- King of the Mountain (1966) TV Episode .... Mr. Ash
"Please Don't Eat the Daisies"
- Say UNCLE (1966) TV Episode .... Dynamite Man
"Get Smart"
- My Nephew the Spy (1965) TV Episode .... Uncle Abner
"The Farmer's Daughter" (1 episode, 1965)
- Crisis at Crystal Springs (1965) TV Episode
"The Smothers Brothers Show"
- A Boarding House Is Not a Home (1965) TV Episode .... Wiggins
"The Bing Crosby Show"
- The Dominant Male (1964) TV Episode
"The Andy Griffith Show"
- Aunt Bee the Crusader (1964) TV Episode .... Mr. Frisby
"Make Room for Daddy"
- The Hex (1963) TV Episode .... Mr. Baker
"Burke's Law"
- Who Killed Harris Crown? (1963) TV Episode .... Dr. Lusk
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
- The Resurrection of Winesap Corners (1963) TV Episode .... Caleb
"77 Sunset Strip"
- Tarnished Idol (1963) TV Episode .... Henry Distal
"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis"
- Too Many Kooks Spoil the Broth (1963) TV Episode .... P.T. Atwood
- The Sweet Success of Smell (1962) TV Episode .... Prof. McGuffy
"McKeever & the Colonel"
- Blackwell's Stand (1962) TV Episode .... Mayor
"Mister Ed"
- Wilbur in the Lion's Den (1962) TV Episode .... Charles Foster
"The Comedy Spot"
- The Soft Touch (1962) TV Episode .... Mr. Martin
- The Doctor (1962) TV Episode .... Morris Weeks
- Mr. Muldoon's Partner (1962) TV Episode .... Proprietor
"Surfside 6"
- The Money Game (1962) TV Episode .... Cyrus Radford
"The Bob Cummings Show"
- Who Chopped Down the Cherokee? (1961) TV Episode
"The Tab Hunter Show"
- Personal Appearance (1961) TV Episode .... Dr. Spike
"Guestward Ho!"
- The Hootens Build a Barbecue (1961) TV Episode .... Mr. Langdon
"The DuPont Show with June Allyson"
- The Old-Fashioned Way (1961) TV Episode .... Dr. Shelley
"The Twilight Zone"
- Mr. Bevis (1960) TV Episode .... Mr. Peckinpaugh
"Bachelor Father"
- Bentley and the Travel Agent (1960) TV Episode
"Goodyear Theatre"
- Lady Bug (1959) TV Episode .... Adam
"The Ann Sothern Show"
- Johnny Moves Up (1959) TV Episode .... Cameron
"The Millionaire"
- Ralph the Cat (1958) TV Episode .... Whipple
"The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour"
- Lucy Goes to Mexico (1958) TV Episode .... Customs Officer
- Lucy Hunts Uranium (1958) TV Episode .... Claims Clerk
"Richard Diamond, Private Detective"
- One Foot in the Grave (1958) TV Episode .... Kevin Anders
"Perry Mason"
- The Case of the Fiery Fingers (1958) TV Episode .... Dr. Williams
"The Gray Ghost"
- Secret and Urgent (1958) TV Episode .... Hall
"The Thin Man"
- Acrostic Murders (1957) TV Episode .... Harry
"The Real McCoys"
- The Egg War (1957) TV Episode .... Harry Poulson
"On Trial"
- Alibi for Murder (1957) TV Episode .... Grayson
"The People's Choice"
- Paper Hangers (1957) TV Episode
- Bankrupt Alibi (????) TV Episode .... Larkin
"Star Stage" (1 episode, 1956)
- Screen Credit (1956) TV Episode
"I Love Lucy"
- Staten Island Ferry (1956) TV Episode .... Passport Clerk
- The Business Manager (1954) TV Episode .... Mr. Hickox
- Lucy Tells the Truth (1953) TV Episode .... Casting Director
- Lucy Goes to the Hospital (1953) TV Episode .... Mr. Stanley
"Screen Directors Playhouse"
- Tom and Jerry (1955) TV Episode .... Garrity
"Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre"
- Stephen and Publius Cyrus (1955) TV Episode .... Henry
- Episode #1.1 (1954) TV Episode .... Willy's Boss
- A Ghostly Joke (1954) TV Episode .... Mr. Kittler

The Night Before Christmas (2006) .... Narrator
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1995) (TV) .... Regent Yarborough
Acting on Impulse (1993) (TV) .... Bellhop
When the Bough Breaks (1986) (TV) .... Van der Graaf
Sunset Limousine (1983) (TV) .... Reinhammer
Love Nest (1975) (TV) .... Ned
Hitched (1971) (TV) .... Round Tree
My Dog, the Thief (1969) (TV) .... Mr. Pfeiffer
Ernestine (1962) (TV)

Sybil (1976) (TV) .... Dr. Quinoness
"War and Remembrance" (1988) (mini) TV Series .... Adm. William Standley
"The Winds of War" (1983) (mini) TV Series .... Adm. William Standley
The Great Man's Whiskers (1972) (TV) .... Philbrick

(These were garnered from the I can't say for certain if any are missing.)

There are some interesting characters in that list that could make for theoretical links by way of tele-genealogy or aliases. For instance, Mr. Lane's role as Larkin in an episode of 'The Whirlybirds' could be the brother of Grandpa Larkin on 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman'. Perhaps the judge he played in an episode of Sandy Duncan's sitcom could have been Judge Baker of 'Mork & Mindy' or Judge Petrillo of 'Soap'. And the passport clerk he played in one of Lucille Ball's series could have been the customs official in another. (He and Lucy were old friends dating back to their days at RKO in the thirties.)

Looking over that list of his credits, I'm amazed by the number of shows he didn't appear in. I'd think there were plenty of opportunities in the forty plus years he worked in Television where he could have contributed even more to other series, both in drama and in comedy.

Perhaps a post for another day.......

My Toobworld cap is doffed to you, Mr. Lane. Thank you, and may God bless......

Toby OB

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