Denny Miller

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Denny Miller
Al Gordon and Denny Miller (2007).jpg
Denny Miller (right) with a fan at the Super-Con convention.
Born Dennis Linn Miller
(1934-04-25)April 25, 1934
Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.
Died September 9, 2014(2014-09-09) (aged 80)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1958–2014
Spouse(s) Kit Smythe (divorced)
Nancy Miller (at time of his death)

Denny Scott Miller (born Dennis Linn Miller; April 25, 1934 – September 9, 2014) was an American actor, perhaps best known for his regular role as Duke Shannon on Wagon Train, his guest-starring appearances on Gilligan's Island, and his 1959 film role as Tarzan.

Background[edit]

Miller was a basketball player for the UCLA Bruins at the University of California, Los Angeles, where his father was a physical education instructor. In his senior year, while he was working as a furniture mover to pay for school, Miller was discovered on Sunset Boulevard by a Hollywood agent who signed him with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His screen test was directed by George Cukor.[1]

He became the first blond Tarzan in Tarzan, the Ape Man, a cheapie/quickie which lifted most of its footage from earlier Johnny Weissmuller movies. Miller had been recommended by someone else considered for the role, William Smith, later a star of the NBC Laredo western series.[1] MGM had Miller under contract for twenty months; in that time, he worked only eight weeks as Tarzan.

Acting career[edit]

After that, Miller did guest spots on a number of television series, such as Northwest Passage and Overland Trail.

In 1960, the 26-year-old Miller appeared as Wilkie, the son of a powerful rancher, in the "License to Kill" episode of Laramie, starring John Smith and Robert Fuller.[2] He also appeared on Have Gun, Will Travel and an episode of The Rifleman as a dimwitted gunfighter named Reuben Miles.

From 1961 to 1964, Miller was a regular on Wagon Train in the role of the scout, Duke Shannon. His co-stars in addition to Robert Fuller were John McIntire, Robert Horton, Frank McGrath, Terry Wilson, and Michael Burns.

After the cancellation of Wagon Train in 1965, Miller starred as Mike McCluskey, the military-officer husband of Juliet Prowse on the NBC sitcom Mona McCluskey. In the story line, Mike insists that Mona live on his salary, rather than hers as an actress. About this time, Miller also guest starred on CBS's Gunsmoke, ABC's The Fugitive, and NBC's The High Chaparral.

Miller guest-starred twice on CBS's Gilligan's Island: in 1964 as lost surfer Duke Williams in the episode "Big Man on Little Stick", and in 1967 as a method actor playing Tongo the Ape Man in the episode "Our Vines Have Tender Apes". In 1970 he was "Moose" on Barbara Eden's I Dream of Jeannie. He appeared on The Brady Bunch in 1973 as Carol Brady's egomaniacal high-school boyfriend Tank Gates in "Quarterback Sneak". In episode 1.2 of Alice, "Alice Gets a Pass", he played a gay football player.

In 1968, Miller appeared as "Wyoming" Bill Kelso in The Party, which he remembers as the part he most enjoyed. In 1978, Miller appeared in the Battlestar Galactica episode "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero". He also appeared on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in the episode "The Dorian Secret". He portrayed John Hays on CBS's Hawaii Five-O in the 1968 episode "Pray Love Remember, Pray Love Remember", as a man falsely accused of murder.

Miller subsequently appeared as an alien invader in the miniseries V. He was cast in a 1983 Magnum, P.I. episode "A Sense of Debt" as Leon Platt, a bare-knuckles fighter. In 1976, Miller played a murderer on Jack Klugman's Quincy M.E..

Miller appeared in more than two hundred television episodes. For fourteen years, he played the Gorton's Fisherman in TV commercials.

Later years[edit]

Denny Miller wrote an autobiography titled Didn't You Used To Be...What's His Name? and a book about obesity in the United States called Toxic Waist?...Get To Know Sweat!.

Miller lived with his second wife, Nancy, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and taught classes in relaxation.

Death[edit]

Miller was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in January 2014. He died in Las Vegas on September 9, 2014, at the age of 80.[3]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Damen, Marcel (February 21, 2007). "Denny Miller interview". GALACTICA.TV. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Laramie: "License to Kill", November 22, 1960". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Denny Miller, Star of 'Tarzan' and 'Wagon Train,' Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Gordon Scott
Actors to portray Tarzan
1959
Succeeded by
Jock Mahoney