Robert Karnes

Robert A. Karnes (June 19, 1917 December 4, 1979) was a prolific television actor who also appeared in some films early in his career, including mostly uncredited parts in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), and From Here to Eternity (1953).[1] A Kentucky native, Karnes was living in Arizona at the time he procured his Social Security number.[2]

Robert Karnes
Robert A. Karnes

(1917-06-19)June 19, 1917
DiedDecember 4, 1979(1979-12-04) (aged 62)
Years active1943–1979

He was a costar with James Gregory in the NBC crime drama The Lawless Years, having appeared as Max Fields[3] in fifteen episodes between 1959 and 1961. The program, set during the Roaring 20s preceded the more successful The Untouchables by a half-season. Karnes even appeared twice on The Untouchables. He appeared eight times on the half-hour or hour-long versions of the Alfred Hitchcock program on CBS.[1]

Western roles

In 1960, Karnes had a role in the western film Five Guns to Tombstone along with Quintin Sondergaard, who had formerly appeared on Tombstone Territory. He was frequently cast in various television westerns, including the 1959 episode "Murder Is the Bid" of the syndicated Mackenzie's Raiders, starring Richard Carlson. Between 1957 and 1974, he guest starred in ten episodes of CBS's Gunsmoke series starring James Arness. He appeared six times on Richard Boone's Have Gun – Will Travel series, set in San Francisco, California. Between 1962 and 1971, he guest starred in five episodes of NBC's most successful western Bonanza with Lorne Greene. He appeared five times as the Roman Catholic Father Esteban in ABC's The Big Valley with Barbara Stanwyck. He starred four times in different roles on NBC's The Virginian with James Drury and Doug McClure.[1] In 1970 Karnes appeared as Hendricks on "The Men From Shiloh" (rebranded name for The Virginian in the episode titled "Hannah."

On three occasions, he appeared on CBS's Four Star Production Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre anthology series. He appeared twice as a sheriff in ABC's The Guns of Will Sonnett with Walter Brennan and Dack Rambo. Twice he appeared on CBS's Rawhide with Clint Eastwood and Eric Fleming and in Frontier Justice, another Four Star anthology. He starred once in NBC's The Californians, Tales of Wells Fargo with Dale Robertson, the syndicated 26 Men, true stories of the Arizona Rangers with Tristram Coffin, Broken Arrow with John Lupton, and Outlaws in the 1961 episode "Chalk's Lot" with Bruce Yarnell.[1]

Karnes was also featured in single episodes of CBS's Cimarron Strip with Stuart Whitman and Trackdown with Robert Culp. He appeared with Clint Walker in ABC's Cheyenne, with Rory Calhoun on CBS's The Texan, and in the syndicated Man Without a Gun starring Rex Reason.[1]

Other roles

Karnes appeared as Chamberlain, a deputy district attorney, in four episodes of CBS's legal drama Perry Mason with Raymond Burr during the 1960-1961 season. He made an earlier appearance as Det. Purvis in "The Case of the Hesitant Hostess" in 1958. He appeared four times between 1967 and 1971 in Burr's NBC series Ironside. He appeared three times on Lloyd Bridges' syndicated series Sea Hunt, a creation of Ivan Tors. He was cast once on the syndicated Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries. He appeared twice in NBC's Columbo playing a police sergeant in 1972 and 1973. Karnes appeared four times as Sheriff Kane in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries on ABC.[3]:742 He appeared on an early episode of CBS's family drama The Waltons. He even appeared in a few sitcoms: The Andy Griffith Show and M*A*S*H on CBS, Harrigan and Son and The Real McCoys on ABC, and Grindl with Imogene Coca on NBC.[1]

His last role was shortly before his death, on an episode of the sitcom Benson on ABC. He appeared posthumously on the television series Bogie in 1980.[1] Still another of his later roles was in 1979 as Gordon Sanders in ABC's Charlie's Angels detective series.[4]

Karnes guest starred on ABC's The Mod Squad and NBC's The Man and the Challenge, Emergency!, The Detectives starring Robert Taylor, The Lieutenant starring Gary Lockwood, Richard Diamond, Private Detective with David Janssen, and Peter Gunn with Craig Stevens.[1]

He also had a very small role in the epic comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as a policeman.


Karnes died of heart failure at the age of 62 at his home in Sherman Oaks, California.[5]

Selected filmography


  1. Robert Karnes, Birth and death dates, List of credits:
  2. Social Security Death Index:
  3. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 588. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  4. "Robert Karnes".
  5. "Robert Karnes, 62, Once Groomed for Stardom in Films". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. December 10, 1979. p. 43. Retrieved February 20, 2018 via
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