Robert Shayne

Robert Shayne (born Robert Shaen Dawe, October 4, 1900 November 29, 1992) was an American actor whose career lasted for over 60 years.[1][2] He was best known for portraying Inspector Bill Henderson in the American television series Adventures of Superman.[3]

Robert Shayne
Robert Shaen Dawe

(1900-10-04)October 4, 1900
Yonkers, New York, US
DiedNovember 29, 1992(1992-11-29) (aged 92)
Woodland Hills, California, US
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
OccupationStage, film, television actor
Years active1929-1991
Mary Crouch
(m. 1925; div. 1933)

Mary Sheffield
(m. 1933; div. 1943)

Elizabeth (Bette) McDonald
(m. 1943; his death 1992)

Early years

Shayne was born in Yonkers, New York.[3] He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Grosvenor Dawe, and he had a brother, Allen Shaen Dawe.[4] His father was one of the founders of the United States Chamber of Commerce.[5]

Shayne left Boston University in his senior year so that his brother could go to college.[5] For a time, he lived in Birmingham, Alabama, writing advertising copy for a women's clothing store by day and acting in a stock theater company at night. When the store went out of business, he began acting full-time.[6]


Shayne became an actor after having worked as a reporter at the Illustrated Daily Tab in Miami, Florida.[7] His initial acting experience came with repertory companies in Alabama,[8] including the Birmingham Players.[5]


Shayne's first Broadway appearance came by 1931 in The Rap.[8] His other Broadway shows include Yellow Jack (1934), The Cat and the Canary (1935), Whiteoaks (1938), with Ethel Barrymore, and Without Love (1942), with Katharine Hepburn.[2][9]


Shayne began his film career in 1934, appearing in two features. In 1942, he became a contract actor with Warner Bros..[10] He played many character roles in movies and television, including a film series of Warner Bros. featurettes called the "Santa Fe Trail" series such as Wagon Wheels West,[11] and as a mad scientist in the 1953 horror film The Neanderthal Man.

He appears briefly in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, seated at a booth in a hotel bar, where his character meets Cary Grant's character, just as the latter is about to be kidnapped.[12] He also had a small but pivotal role in the 1953 sci-fi classic Invaders From Mars as a scientist.[13] Shayne enjoyed a brief rebirth in his career when he was cast as the blind newspaper vendor in The Flash television show[14]; he was by this time actually blind and learned his lines by having his wife read them to him and then rehearse until he memorized them.


Shayne portrayed Police Inspector William "Bill" Henderson on the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman. He appeared sporadically in the early episodes of the series, in part because he came under HUAC scrutiny and was briefly blacklisted on unproven and unspecific charges of association with Communism.[15][16] As the program evolved, especially in the color episodes, he was brought into more and more of them, to the point where he was a regular on the series.[17][18]

Personal life

Shayne married Mary Crouch in 1929.[19] They divorced three years later and had one daughter.[5] In 1934, he married Mary Sheffield. They divorced in 1946[20] and had one daughter.[5]


Shayne died of lung cancer at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.[9] He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California,[21] and was survived by his wife, 3 daughters, 11 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.[22]

Selected filmography


  1. "Robert Shayne". BFI.
  2. "Overview for Robert Shayne". Turner Classic Movies.
  3. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 97. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  4. "(untitled brief)". Tallahassee Democrat. Florida, Tallahassee. 28 May 1927. p. 2. Retrieved December 20, 2017 via
  5. Laura, Wagner (November 2017). "Robert Shayne". Classic Images (509): 72–74.
  6. MacPherson, Virginia (9 August 1945). "Handsome Robert Shayne A 'Comer' in Hollywood". Tampa Bay Times. Florida, St. Petersburg. United Press. p. 6. Retrieved December 21, 2017 via
  7. Raymer, Dorothy (13 October 1945). "Robert Shayne, Film Star, Was Once Miami Reporter". The Miami News. Florida, Miami. p. 12. Retrieved December 20, 2017 via
  8. Folkart, Burt A. (2 December 1992). "Robert Shayne, Broadway and Movie Actor". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. A 28. Retrieved December 19, 2017 via
  9. "Robert Shayne Actor, 92". The New York Times. December 3, 1992. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  10. Weaver, Tom (2000). Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland. p. 356. ISBN 9780786407552. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  11. "Warner Bros. Featurettes "Santa Fe Trail" series". The Old Corral. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  12. "Robert Shayne".
  13. Alan Jones. "Invaders from Mars". RadioTimes.
  14. "Robert Shayne movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  15. "Only Victims".
  16. "Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes".
  17. "Superman Homepage - Superman on Television".
  18. "Robert Shayne - Biography - Movies & TV -".
  19. see the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, NY 12/19/1925, page 7
  20. "Actor Shayne Divorced". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. 19 July 1946. p. 2 - Part II. Retrieved December 22, 2017 via
  21. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 681. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  22. Willis, John (1995). Theatre World 1992-1993. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 227. ISBN 9781557832047. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
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