Saturday, January 19, 2008

In Memory of Allan Melvin

I just heard that character actor Allan Melvin died of cancer at his home. Some reports have said it was Jan. 17th other say it was Jan. 18th. The fact remains that a fine character actor has died. For most of his television career Mr. Melvin was cast in the military roles. He was first cast on the Phil Silvers show as Cpl. Henshaw. Later he started his voice acting career by being cast as the star voice on the Magilla Gorilla Show. He also did episodic tv by appearing in shows such as Perry Mason, Lost In Space, Love American Style, the Andy Griffith Show, the Dick VanDyke Show (usually in military garb again when Rob would remember his military days with his army buddy Sam), etc. Near the end of the 1960's he was back in the military and promoted when he played Sgt. Hacker on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. While Sgt. Carter may have treated Gomer badly Sgt. Hacker was even tougher on America's favorite Marine Private. Having treated lovable Gomer so bad could have ended a lessor actors career. Allan was still lovable and proved it when he was cast in his most memorable role. Alice's love interest on the Brady Bunch as Sam the Butcher. When that show ended he found occasional work on All In the Family as Archie Bunkers friend Barney Heffner. Later he had a 15 year run in commercials as the plumber who got out of hard to do jobs by using Liquid Plumber. After the Brady Bunch ended his cartoon voice over career continued into the 1980's. While Magilla Gorilla is his best remembered role he was also a military figure again when he voiced Sgt. Snorkel and Private Zero on Beetle Bailey. He was the voice of Drooper on the Banana Splits, Tyrone on the Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty, Wacky Packy on Uncle Croc's Block. He was the voice of the villain Electro on Spider-man and his amazing Friends and he topped off his cartoon career by playing Joey on the Kwicky Koala Show in the early 1980's and it was Tex Avery's last animated project.

This man had a long enough career for two actors and he did it well. He was one of the busiest characters in Hollywood for over 3 decades and this posting only showed the tip of the iceberg. He should have been given his own show to star in but seemed to always play second fiddle to the lead. No matter if you remember him as Sam, Magilla, Sgt. Hacker or any other role you know that he was always a welcome presence in every home in America and thanks to reruns and TV shows on DVD he will always be seen for years to come.

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