Peter Leeds

Peter Leeds (May 30, 1917 – November 12, 1996) was an American actor, who appeared on television more than 8,000 times[1] and also had many film, Broadway, and radio credits. The majority of his work took place in the 1950s and 1960s. Working with many well-known comedians, he became popular as a straight man to their antics.

Peter Leeds
Leeds (right) in Bonanza
Born(1917-05-30)May 30, 1917
DiedNovember 12, 1996(1996-11-12) (aged 79)
Years active1941–1996
Spouse(s)Patricia Leeds (1962–1996)

Beyond situation comedies, Peter Leeds was also a dramatic actor, a Broadway performer, and a regular on many variety shows. He made three guest appearances on Perry Mason.

Peter Leeds was also a popular voice-over artist, being heard on over 3,000 radio shows.

Early life

A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, Leeds received his training at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He made his film debut with a bit part in Public Enemies (1941). He received a scholarship from the John Marshall Law School, which he attended for one year. He also attended The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City. Leeds was noticed by the Group Theater of New York, through which he received a scholarship and graduated.


Leeds worked with hundreds of well-known actors, including Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson. He appeared four times with David Janssen in the crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Leeds was cast as George Colton in nine episodes of the 1960s CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys,[2]:826 starring Harry Morgan and Cara Williams. He guest-starred on an episode of the 1962-1963 ABC drama series, Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly.

Leeds was known for his association with Stan Freberg and played his foil in several song parodies. In addition, he had several roles on both Volume One and Volume Two of the classic comedy albums Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, and also appeared as a regular on the short-lived CBS radio series The Stan Freberg Show in 1957.

Leeds had a recurring role as gambler/saloon owner Tenner Smith in the 1957-1959 CBS television series, Trackdown starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, with Ellen Corby in a secondary role as newspaper publisher Henrietta Porter.[3]

Leeds played federal agent LaMarr Kane[2] in "The Scarface Mob", the pilot for ABC's The Untouchables TV series (starring Robert Stack), a role taken over in the actual series by Chuck Hicks. He also was a member of the casts of the 1958 version of The Betty White Show[2]:94 and The Buster Keaton Show.[2]:148

USO tours

Leeds accompanied Bob Hope on 14 international USO (United Service Organizations) tours.[4] Leeds joined Bob Hope in 1954 for a television special and continued working with Hope on specials and tours from 1954 until 1991.[5]

Voice work

Leeds also did voices for animated television and film, including The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, Hong Kong Phooey, The New Yogi Bear Show, The Dukes, Challenge of the GoBots, CBS Storybreak and The Jetsons. It is important to note that Leeds was a member of Stan Freberg's CBS radio program, "The Stan Freberg Show" along with Freberg, Daws Butler and June Foray. This was the last radio comedy show made by CBS in the summer-fall of 1957.


Leeds appeared on Broadway in Sugar Babies along with Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller.[6]

Personal life

Leeds and his wife of 34 years, Pat Leeds, had a son, Dr. Michael Leeds.[7] Leeds died of cancer at the age of 79, on November 12, 1996 in Los Angeles, California.[1]

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

During the 1970s, Leeds spent five years as the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).[1] He later served on the actors' union's national and local Board of Directors. In 1992, AFTRA repaid his many years of service with its highest honor, the Gold Card. Leeds later served on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1941Public EnemiesReporter
1941Pacific BlackoutAir Raid WardenUncredited
1942Don Winslow of the NavySeaman ChapmanSerial
1942Treat 'Em RoughDavis
1942Priorities on ParadeJoe - Factory Employee / Show CoordinatorUncredited
1942The Secret CodeHenchman Carl HieckeSerial, [Ch. 9]
1942I Married a WitchAmbulance AttendantUncredited
1942Reunion in FranceBoyUncredited
1943Lady BodyguardInternUncredited
1943Crash DiveShore PoliceUncredited
1946That Brennan GirlBergieUncredited
1947Hit Parade of 1947Bandleader in Rehearsal RoomUncredited
1949The Life of RileyConway's Voice on Radio ShowVoice, Uncredited
1949The Lady GamblesJack Harrison - Hotel Clerk
1949D.O.A.Leo - BartenderUncredited
1950Ma and Pa Kettle Go to TownTall BeauticianUncredited
1950South Sea SinnerSecond PolicemanUncredited
1950Saddle TrampSpringer
1950Dial 1119Martin, Wounded PolicemanUncredited
1951Up FrontPinanskiUncredited
1951Katie Did It'Odds' Burton
1951Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the FarmManson
1951The FrogmenPharmacist's MateUncredited
1952My Man and IMan with Nancy at BarUncredited
1952Come Back, Little ShebaMilkmanUncredited
1953Never Wave at a WACNick LaharisUncredited
1953Stalag 17Barracks #1 Prisoner of War Getting DistilleryUncredited
195399 River StreetNat Finley
1954The Long, Long TrailerGarage ManagerUncredited
1954BrigadoonPeter - HeadwaiterUncredited
1954The Adventures of Hajji BabaMerchantUncredited
1954The Last Time I Saw ParisBarney
1954The Atomic KidAgent Bill
1955Six Bridges to CrossHarrisUncredited
1955Hit the DeckLieutenant - Operation Mud PieUncredited
1955Tight SpotFred Packer
1955Interrupted MelodyDr. Ed Ryson
1955Love Me or Leave MeFred Taylor
1955It's Always Fair WeatherMr. TraskerUncredited
1955Bobby Ware Is MissingMackey of F.B.I.
1955I'll Cry TomorrowRichard
1956The Price of FearMitchellUncredited
1956The Harder They FallDundee Fight Ring AnnouncerUncredited
1956Behind the High WallFirst Detective
1956Tea and SympathyHeadmaster at BonfireUncredited
1956The Best Things in Life Are FreeGeniusUncredited
1956The Great American PastimeMotor CopUncredited
1957SlanderHerb GoodmanUncredited
1957Official DetectivePattersonEpisode: "The Deserted House"
1957Bombers B-52TV Quiz Show DirectorUncredited
1957Kiss Them for MeReporter in NightclubUncredited
1958The Brothers KaramazovGuardUncredited
1959The Scarface MobLamarr KaneTV movie
1958-1959TrackdownTenner Smithrecurring role, 15 episodes
1959High School Big ShotMr. Carter
1959The 30 Foot Bride of Candy RockBill Burton
1959The Devil's DiscipleNarratorUncredited
1959The Big OperatorHenlandUncredited
1959Girls TownMichael Clyde
1959The RookieSeville Quare
1960Please Don't Eat the DaisiesMackay's SecretaryUncredited
1960The Facts of LifeThompson - the Dry Cleaner
1963The Wheeler DealersArthur Watkins
1965I'll Take SwedenCar SalesmanUncredited
1966The OscarBert
1966The Bob Hope Vietnam Christmas ShowActor
19678 on the LamMarty
1968With Six You Get EggrollPolice Officer JoelsonUncredited
1972-1974Adam-12George Porter / Dennis Baker2 episodes
1974The Nine Lives of Fritz the CatJuan / Various CharactersVoice
1987DragnetRoy Grest


  1. "Straight man actor, Peter Leeds, dies". The Spokesman-Review. Washington, Spokane. Los Angeles Times. November 22, 1996. p. A2. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 1132.
  3. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 104
  4. "Noted Actor Will Speak To Red Cross". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. May 21, 1966. p. 15. Retrieved July 9, 2016 via
  5. IMDb Peter Leeds Bio
  6. "Sugar Babies". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  7. Turner Classic Movies
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