Robert Rockwell

Robert Rockwell (October 15, 1920 – January 25, 2003) was an American stage, film, radio and television actor. He is best known for playing the handsome, but awkward biology teacher Philip Boynton in the radio and television sitcom Our Miss Brooks opposite Eve Arden.

Robert Rockwell
Rockwell circa 1959
Born(1920-10-15)October 15, 1920
DiedJanuary 25, 2003(2003-01-25) (aged 82)
Years active1948–1995
Spouse(s)
Elizabeth Weiss (m. 19422003)
Children5

Career

A native of Lake Bluff, Illinois[1] Rockwell studied at the Pasadena Playhouse, from which he obtained a master's degree.[2] During World War II he enlisted in the US Navy for four years serving in Washington D.C.[3] Dramatic roles often eluded him, however, after beginning his career as a contract player for Republic Studios he appeared, over his almost 50-year acting career, in more than 350 television episodes and, on stage, opposite José Ferrer in the 1946 Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac, and with Ginger Rogers during the 1960s in a San Diego production of Whitfield Cook's play A More Perfect Union. He appeared in the first Superman television show episode as Clark Kent's father, Jor-El in 1952. He appeared in a 1959 Perry Mason episode "The case of the Deadly Toy" as love interest to the defendant Claire Allison as Dick Benedict. He starred in the 1961 Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Misguided Missile" as an Air Force officer court-martialled on a murder charge. He later starred in the 1962 Perry Mason episodes "The Case of the Lurid Letter" as Everett Rixby, a high school principal, and the murderer Cole B. Troy in the "The Case of the Shapely Shadow". He also appeared as Ed Purvis in the 1965 episode Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Candy Queen".

Rockwell starred in his own ABC western-themed television series, The Man from Blackhawk in the 1959-1960 season. Rockwell was cast as the Blackhawk Insurance Company's key investigator, Sam Logan, who is assigned to weed out fraud in the payment of claims.[4]:650 He also played Sam Thompson in Thompson's Ghost,[4]:1075 Tom Bennett in The Bill Cosby Show[4]:106 and Officer Russo in Adam-12.[4]

In 1967 he played a littering tourist in the Lassie episode "Lassie's Litter Bit", an iconic episode which earned a trip for Lassie to the White House to shake hands with then First Lady "Ladybird" Johnson who had used the famous collie in her Keep America Beautiful Campaign.[5]

Rockwell was a founding member of the California Artists Radio Theatre. He played standard leads in a couple of anti-Communist-era features, including Republic's The Red Menace (1949), in which he is cast as a returning veteran of World War II, who is duped by communists.

Later in his career, he appeared on episodes of Petticoat Junction (1970, episode: "Spare That Cottage", as Norbert Thompson), Growing Pains (1988–1990) and Beverly Hills, 90210 (1993). His appearances in commercials and voiceovers totaled more than 200, most notably as the armchair grandfather treating his grandson to a piece of candy in the 1995 version of the Werthers Original candy spot.[2]

Death

On January 25, 2003, Rockwell died of cancer at his home in Malibu at the age of 82. He and his wife, Elizabeth (née Weiss), to whom he had been married since 1942, had five children.[6]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1948You Gotta Stay HappyEddie
1949The Red MenaceBill Jones
1949Task ForceLt. KellyUncredited
1949Alias the ChampPolice Lt. Ron Peterson
1950The Blonde BanditDist. Atty. James Deveron
1950UnmaskedDetective Lt. James 'Jim' Webster
1950Singing GunsTownsmanUncredited
1950Belle of Old MexicoKip Armitage III
1950Federal Agent at LargeDr. Ross Carrington
1950Women from HeadquartersGates
1950Destination Big HouseDr. Walter Phillips
1950Trial Without JuryPolice Lt. Bill Peters
1950Lonely Heart BanditsPolice Lt. Carroll
1950Prisoners in PetticoatsMark Hampton
1951Call Me Mister1st SergeantUncredited
1951The FrogmenLt. Bill Doyle
1951The Prince Who Was a ThiefBogoUncredited
1951Week-End with FatherRanger KennedyUncredited
1952Just for YouJohn Ransome
1952The Turning PointReporterUncredited
1952Ellis in FreedomlandEllis Homan
1953The War of the WorldsForest Ranger at Crash SiteUncredited
1956Our Miss BrooksPhil Boynton
1965A Letter to NancyPastor
1968Sol MadridChief Danvers
1995Perfect AlibiJonah Kringle(final film role)

References

  1. Celebrity Parade Glitters Too Much, Too Similar. The Milwaukee Sentinel - Nov 17, 1959
  2. "TV Actor, radio personality, stage performer, movie star Robert Rockwell dies at 82". Lodi News-Sentinel. Lodi, California. January 28, 2003. p. 8.
  3. "Robert Rockwell: Going the Distance".
  4. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 8.
  5. "LBJ Library". lbjlibrary.net. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  6. "Robert Rockwell, 82; Played Elusive Catch on 'Our Miss Brooks'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
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