Frank McGrath (actor)
|Benjamin Franklin "Frank" McGrath|
February 2, 1903|
Mound City, Holt County, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||May 13, 1967
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Libby Quay Buschlen McGrath (?-1967, his death)|
Benjamin Franklin McGrath, known as Frank McGrath (February 2, 1903 – May 13, 1967), was an American television actor who played the comical and optimistic cook with the white beard, "Charlie B. Wooster," on the Western television series Wagon Train on, first, NBC and then ABC. McGrath appeared in all 272 episodes in the eight seasons of the series, which had ended its run only two years before his death. McGrath's Wooster character hence provided the meals and companionship for both fictional trailmasters, Ward Bond as Seth Adams and John McIntire as Christopher "Chris" Hale.
McGrath was born in Mound City in Holt County in far northwestern Missouri. McGrath's first role, uncredited, was in the 1932 film The Rainbow Trail, a study of Mormon polygamy based on a 1915 Zane Grey novel of the same name. He was also a stunt performer. Even at the age of fifty-three, the durable McGrath did three separate horse fall and drag scenes for the 1956 John Wayne picture The Searchers not long after McGrath had barely recovered from having broken his back. A year before Wagon Train began, McGrath appeared briefly as ranch foreman John Pike in the 1956 episode "Quicksand" of the first hour-long television western series, ABC's Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker. In 1957, McGrath had an uncredited role as a stagecoach driver in the Henry Fonda film, The Tin Star. In 1958, he portrayed the character Jake Rivers in the episode "The Most Dangerous Man Alive" on NBC's Tales of Wells Fargo, starring Dale Robertson.
After Wagon Train, McGrath appeared in 1965 and 1966 as Uncle Lucius in nine episodes of ABC's situation comedy Tammy, with Debbie Watson in the title role and Denver Pyle, cast as the grandfather. Thereafter, McGrath was a guest star on two network westerns, as Neddie Henshaw on the 1966 episode "Linda" of NBC's The Virginian and as Buster in the 1967 episode "Plunder at Hawk's Grove," of ABC's The Big Valley. Shortly before his death, McGrath played a bartender in the picture The War Wagon, the character Ned Martin in Gunfight in Abilene, and Ballard Weeks in Glenn Ford's,The Last Challenge (all three films released in 1967). His last role as Mr. Remington in The Shakiest Gun in the West was released in 1968 — after McGrath's death. His former Wagon Train costar Terry Wilson also appears with McGrath in both The War Wagon and The Shakiest Gun, a Don Knotts comedy-western.
McGrath died of a heart attack in Beverly Hills, California. He was married to the former Libby Quay Buschlen (1902-1978), a daughter of George Buschlen. Libby McGrath outlived her husband by eleven years.
McGrath was the second member of the Wagon Train cast to die. Ward Bond died early in November 1960. In addition to Terry Wilson, his other co-stars on the series were Robert Horton, Robert Fuller, Denny Scott Miller, and Michael Burns.