Frank Sutton

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Frank Sutton
Jim Nabors Frank Sutton Gomer Pyle 1966.JPG
Sutton (right) as Sergeant Vince Carter with Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, 1966.
Born Frank Spencer Sutton
(1923-10-23)October 23, 1923
Clarksville, Tennessee, USA
Died June 28, 1974(1974-06-28) (aged 50)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Greenwood Cemetery Clarksville, Tennessee
Alma mater Columbia University
Spouse(s) Toby Igler Sutton (married 1949, 2 children)

Frank Spencer Sutton (October 23, 1923 – June 28, 1974) was an American actor best remembered for his role of Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter on the CBS television series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Early life[edit]

Sutton was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, the only child of Frank Sims Sutton and Thelma (née Spencer).[1] When he was eight years old, his father became employed as a Linotype operator at the Nashville Tennessean in Nashville. Frank Sims Sutton died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, leaving behind his wife and 14-year-old son.

Sutton developed an interest in acting, playing his first role at age nine, and also starred in the drama club at East Nashville High School during his attendance. He later said, "The first time I walked out on a stage, I had a warm feeling. I knew then I wanted to be an actor."[2]

In 1941, Sutton graduated from East Nashville High School, and returned to Clarksville to become a radio announcer. He enlisted in the United States Army during World War II, and served in the South Pacific, taking part in fourteen assault landings.[3]

Acting career[edit]

Honorably discharged as a sergeant, he began acting on stage.[4] He attended the Columbia University School of General Studies, graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in drama in 1952.

Throughout the 1950s, Sutton played small roles in television shows such as Decoy, Route 66, Naked City, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Fugitive, The Goldbergs, 87th Precinct, Gunsmoke, Target: The Corruptors, Empire, The Twilight Zone, and The Untouchables. He had a continuing role as Cadet Eric Rattison, the great rival of the Polaris Unit manned by the series' heroes, in Tom Corbett, Space Cadet from 1950 to 1955. In 1955, he received his big break in the Academy Award-winning movie Marty, in which he played the title character's friend, Ralph. He also had a role in The Satan Bug, a 1965 spy thriller. He returned to the stage in The Andersonville Trial in the early 1960s.

Sutton's breakthrough role was on "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.", a 1964 episode of The Andy Griffith Show, in which he played the cynical and easily exasperated Sergeant Carter opposite Jim Nabors' character Gomer Pyle. This episode led to a spin-off TV series, Gomer Pyle, USMC, where Sutton continued the role for five seasons, until the show ended its run in 1969. He also appeared in public service announcements in the role of Sergeant Carter. After Gomer Pyle was canceled, Sutton appeared regularly on Nabors' variety show The Jim Nabors Hour with Gomer Pyle co-star Ronnie Schell. Sutton played the brother-in-law of Nabors' character in comedy sketches.[5][6] Sutton performed in dinner theater, playing, among other roles, the father in Norman, Is That You? and made guest appearances on other television programs.[7]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1949, he married Toby Igler, with whom he had two children.[2]

On June 28, 1974, while preparing for a performance of the comedy Luv at the Beverly Barn Dinner Playhouse in Shreveport, Louisiana, Sutton died of a heart attack. He was 50 years old.

He is said to have been buried in his hometown of Clarksville (in which he has a burial headstone), but is also believed by some sources to have ended up being cremated. His Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. co-star Ronnie Schell reportedly saw Sutton "drinking gallons of coffee" and "chain-smoking cigars" during his tenure on the set of the show, which may have ultimately contributed to his demise.


Year Title Role(s) Notes
1950 Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Cadet Eric Raddison  
1954 The Glenn Miller Story uncredited
1955 Marty Ralph (uncredited)  
1956 The Edge of Night Sgt. Fitzsimmons  
1958—1961 Naked City Franklin Maquon  
1960—1961 The Secret Storm Joe Sullivan #2  
1961—1962 Gunsmoke Charlie (1961)
Olie (1962)
Billy Marston (1962)
1962 Have Gun – Will Travel Davey Walsh One time role – The Trap (1962)
The Twilight Zone Frank, Jerry's manager One time role in episode "The Dummy"
1960—1961 The Secret Storm Joe Sullivan #2  
1962—1963 Combat! (TV series) Corporal Cording – The Chateau (1963)
1962—1963 The Untouchables Benny Stryker (1962)
Smiley Barris (1962)
Angie Stazak (1963)
Sgt. Davey McCain (1963)
  • The Butcher's Boy (1963) … Sgt. Davey McCain
  • The Speculator (1963) … Angie Stazak
  • The Contract (1962) … Smiley Barris
  • The Stryker Brothers (1962) … Benny Stryker
1963 The Fugitive (deputy) Jackson One time role in episode 3 "The Other Side of the Mountain"
1964 The Andy Griffith Show Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter One time role in episode "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."
1964—1969 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter  
1969–1971 The Jim Nabors Hour Himself
1970–1973 Love American Style Various Episodes:
  • Love and the Bonded Separation (1973)
  • Love and the Secret Life (1972)
  • Love and the Guru (1972)
  • Love and the Lady Barber(1971) … Herb Redding
  • Love and the Haunted House (1970) … Walter
Year Title Role Notes
1955 Marty Ralph Uncredited
1957 Four Boys and a Gun Ollie Denker  
1961 Town Without Pity Sgt. Chuck Snyder  
1965 The Satan Bug Donald  
1974 Hurricane Bert Pearson Television movie released posthumously


  1. ^ "Frank Spencer Sutton (1923 - 1974) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2014-03-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Gomer's Sgt. Carter, Frank Sutton, Dead". St. Petersburg Times (Times Publishing Company). June 29, 1974. p. 14-A. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  3. ^ Handsaker, Gene (August 21, 1966). "Visiting the Real War". St. Petersburg Times (Times Publishing Company). p. 4. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  4. ^ Kleiner, Dick (March 29, 1997). "Reader asks what preceded 'Gomer Pyle'?". Calhoun Times: 3. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  5. ^ "Nabors' Production Still Popular". Rome News-Tribune (News Publishing Company). October 16, 1970. pp. 9–A. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  6. ^ "Complete Television Programs for Thursday". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications). September 17, 1970. p. 48. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  7. ^ Rearden, T. J. (May 18, 1972). "Roaming Around Florida". The Deuniak Springs Herald. p. 10. Retrieved 2008-11-23. [dead link]

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