Actor. He is best remembered for his numerous supporting roles on the stage, in television and in the movies. Born in Caldwell, Kansas, he developed an interest in acting when his mother used to take him to the local movie theater, where she played the piano for silent movies. Between 1935 and 1938, he acted in over 90 shows at the Pasadena Playhouse, before making his Broadway debut in Oscar Hammerstein's "Knights of Song," and during World War II, he acted for two years in a variety of roles in Irving Berlin's "This is the Army." He originally used the stage name, Casey Adams, but in 1962, reverted to his birth name. He made his film debut in 1949 with "Always Leave Them Laughing," as a pen salesman, and over the next thirty plus years, alternated among cameo roles and bit parts on television, in the movies and on the stage. He has appeared in such television shows as "The Bob Newhart Show," "Kojak," "The Love Boat," "Perry Mason," "Bewitched," "Gunsmoke," and "The Andy Griffith Show." In 1957, he was cast in the role of the father, Ward Cleaver, in the original pilot for the television series, "Leave It to Beaver," but the role was later given to actor Hugh Beaumont. A consummate stage actor, he has played the role of Horace Vandergelder in the theater production of "Hello, Dolly" more than 3,000 times, opposite such actresses as Carol Channing, Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers and Betsy Palmer. His movie credits include supporting roles in such films as "What Price Glory" (1952), "Destination Gobi" (1953), "Bus Stop" (1956), "The Naked and the Dead" (1958), "Elmer Gantry" (1960), "Return to Peyton Place" (1961), "Fate is the Hunter" (1964), "A Talent for Loving" (1969), and "Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978). His last film role was as Grandpa Fred in "Sixteen Candles" (1984). He retired from acting in 1984, moving to an 18th century farmhouse near Middletown, Connecticut, that he fell in love with while he was shooting the movie "It Happened to Jane" (1959). He died of cancer in Middletown, Connecticut in 2000.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson