Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Recommended Posts

A wonderful character actor, Harold Gould, is dead at 86.

But Mr. Gould was most of all a fixture on television with a familiar face, with or without what came to be his signature mustache. In the 1960s he appeared on "Dennis the Menace," "The Donna Reed Show," "Hazel," "National Velvet," "Perry Mason," "Mister Ed," "Dr. Kildare," "The Twilight Zone," "The Virginian," "12 O'Clock High," "The Fugitive," "Judd for the Defense" and "Hogan's Heroes," among other shows. In 1965, he played Marlo Thomas's father in the pilot episode of "That Girl." (Lew Parker played the part in the series.)

In the 1970s, in addition to his stints on "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Rhoda," he was seen on "Cannon," "Mannix," "Hawaii Five-O," "Medical Story," "Police Story," "Family," "Soap" and "The Love Boat." In a 1972 episode of "Love, American Style" that was the progenitor of the hit series "Happy Days," he played Howard Cunningham, the Middle American father of the Middle American son played by Ron Howard; in the series the father was played by Tom Bosley.

Barney Gerber. (Whole episode; scroll to about 18 minutes in)

The duel in "Love and Death." (It's in Italian, though.)

Link to comment

Stephen Tobolowsky writes on the career of a character actor, and honors several recently deceased, on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

When you are Harrison Ford you play Richard Kimble or Han Solo. You have a first and last name, and the writer has thought enough about you to give you a life. Harrison Ford’s characters eat, sleep, drink coffee, shave, shower (from the back only, waist up), read the newspaper, get dressed, drive to work, run for their lives, shoot guns, deliver stirring oratory to alien warlords and possibly kiss Renée Zellweger — all because they have been named.

Compare that with James Gammon, who assayed the roles of “Texan,” “Paps” and “Double D.” Or Carl Gordon, whose characters were sometimes identified only by a job description like “Foreman” or “Luther the Pimp,” or simply age and location like “Older Man on Train.” Harold Gould was stuck with his location on the family tree when he played “Grandpa” in “Freaky Friday.”

Link to comment

That's an interesting piece. I have watched some films many, many times in order to reexperience brief brilliant performances by actors whose names one learns only from the credits. Some have gone on to become major stars, occasionally crossing over into the (to me) less interesting land of the romantic lead - but most simply "keep on keeping on," bringing context, nuance and flavor to small pivotal roles. I raise a glass to those artists.

Link to comment
I raise a glass to those artists.


A few have "crossed over" successfully - Gene Hackman in particular. Some would add Robert Duvall but I never thought he could really carry a lead even though he has won Oscars doing so - obviously mine is a minority opinion. I always thought of Kevin McCarthy more as an unsuccessful lead than a character actor, or a character actor by default, so to speak.

Link to comment

Yes, I agree with you about Kevin McCarthy's having been more an unsuccessful lead than a character actor - an important distinction! Gene Hackman is, indeed, an excellent example of a character actor who "crossed over."

One of my favorite character actors of McCarthy's era is the late J. T. Walsh (Sling Blade, House of Games, Pleasantville, and so many more). Richard Farnsworth was another of my favorites who could (I believe) have crossed into the territory of the lead, had he wanted to; his leading roles (The Grey Fox, The Straight Story) were not mainstream, and he liked it that way. We have lost so many brilliant actors in recent years!

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...