Gregg Palmer

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Gregg Palmer
Gregg Palmer in trailer for "Magnificent Obsession" (1954)
Born Palmer Lee
(1927-01-25) January 25, 1927 (age 88)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Nationality Norwegian-American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1950–1982
Spouse(s) Ruth Palmer (1967-1999) (her death)

Gregg Palmer, originally Palmer Lee (born January 25, 1927) is an American actor, known primarily for his prolific work in television westerns, and his intimidating 6'4 height and weight of 300 lbs. He appeared from 1960-1975 in varying roles in twenty episodes of CBS's Gunsmoke with James Arness, thirteen segments of the syndicated Death Valley Days, and nine episodes of NBC's The Virginian starring James Drury in the title role. He guest starred five times on Bonanza, NBC's longest-running western. One of Palmer's Gunsmoke segments is "Alias Festus Haggin" (1972), co-starring Ken Curtis.[1]

Early years[edit]

Of Norwegian extraction, the brown-haired and brown-eyed Palmer was born in San Francisco, California, the son of a carpenter. He entered the United States Army Air Corps, forerunner of the Air Force, and became a cryptographer during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 as a sergeant. Sometimes known as "Grizzly", Palmer worked as a bouncer, truck driver, and in construction before he became a radio disc jockey.[2]

In 1950, at the age of twenty-three, he procured his first screen role, as an uncredited ambulance attendant in the Martin and Lewis comedy film My Friend Irma Goes West. In 1952, he had minor roles as Gratton Dalton of the Dalton gang in the film, The Cimarron Kid, and as Joe Bent in The Battle at Apache Pass. In the early 1950s, Palmer and Marilyn Monroe both unsuccessfully auditioned for roles as Abner and Daisy Mae in a proposed Li'l Abner television series based on the Al Capp cartoon, but the effort never materialized. Palmer was signed to a contract with Universal Pictures. In 1952, he appeared as William Norton in the comedy film Francis Goes to West Point, starring Donald O'Connor.[2] Palmer claimed that he was going to be pushed as a big star by Universal in a similar manner to their other stable of stars, but in the 1950s the studio changed, hiring out major stars from other studios rather than build up their own. Palmer was soon dropped and went freelance.[3]

Westerns, 1955-1961[edit]

On March 4, 1955, Palmer appeared as Jack Slade in an episode of Jim Davis's syndicated western series Stories of the Century. Slade was the superintendent of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company, based in Julesburg in northeastern Colorado, who sets out to capture the outlaw Jules Beni, played in the episode by Paul Newlan. Elaine Riley appeared as Slade's wife, Maria Virginia.[4]

From 1955 to 1958, Palmer appeared five times on the syndicated 26 Men, starring Tristram Coffin and based on the actual files of the Arizona Rangers law enforcement group. The episodes are entitled "Chain Gang", "The Vanquisher", "Runaway Stage", "Hole Up", and "Terror in Paradise". During the late 1950s, Palmer was particularly busy in acting, having appeared on The Lone Ranger, Rod Cameron's syndicated State Trooper, Scott Brady's syndicated Shotgun Slade, Grant Sullivan's syndicated western Pony Express, John Lupton's ABC series Broken Arrow, John Payne's The Restless Gun on NBC, Kirby Grant's Sky King, Jeff Richards's Jefferson Drum on NBC, Rex Allen's syndicated Frontier Doctor, and Rory Calhoun's The Texan on CBS. He appeared on NBC's Buckskin as Jackel in the episode "A Man from the Mountains" and Cimarron City as Tom Hiller in "The Bitter Lesson".[1]

During the 1960s, Palmer appeared in Earl Holliman's Hotel de Paree western as Cooper in the episode "Sundance and the Bare-Knuckled Fighters". He then appeared in NBC's short-lived Overland Trail in the role of Will Purdom in the episode "Vigilantes of Montana". Other appearances were on ABC's The Man From Blackhawk, Henry Fonda's and Allen Case's The Deputy on NBC, and three segments of Wagon Train, when it was aired on NBC. He appeared as Tracy McNeil in the 1960 episode "Old Stefano" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Lawman, set in Laramie, Wyoming, and starring John Russell and Peter Brown. That same year, he appeared as Captain McKinley in "Welcome Enemy" in Will Hutchins's ABC/WB western Sugarfoot.[1]

In 1961, he appeared as Blanchard in the episode "A Gun Is for Killing" in NBC's The Tall Man, a fictionalized account of the relationship between Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He then appeared as Dillard in the episode "The Frightened Town" of the ABC/WB western, Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker. He then played Heff in the 1961 episode "Sam Bass" of NBC's The Outlaws.[1]

From 1956 to 1961, he appeared five times as Tom McLowery in ABC's The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O'Brian in the title role: "So Long, Dora, So Long", "Doc Holliday Faces Death", "The Law Must Be Fair", "Just Before the Battle", and "The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral". He appeared as Cowlin in the 1961 episode "The Dead Ringer" of the syndicated series Two Faces West starring Charles Bateman. From 1957-1961, Palmer appeared in three episodes of Dale Robertson's NBC series Tales of Wells Fargo: "Chips", "The Warrior's Return", and "Death Raffle".[1]

Westerns, 1962-1978[edit]

In 1962, Palmer appeared as Colton in the episode "Destinies West" of Ty Hardin's ABC/WB series, Bronco series, a spin-off of Cheyenne. Through 1962, he appeared in four segments of CBS's Have Gun - Will Travel, starring Richard Boone: "Fragile", "The Misguided Father", "Fight at Adobe Wells", and "Trial at Tablerock" as a sheriff. In the 1962-1963 season, Palmer appeared twice on NBC's Laramie: as Duke in "The Long Road Back" and as Chuck Logan in "Badge of Honor".[1]

His next western roles came in 1965: as Mace in the episode "The Violent Land" of CBS's Rawhide, as Mel Combs in the episode "Winner Lose All" of ABC's The Big Valley, and as Doc in "$10,000 for Durango" of NBC's Branded, the second Chuck Connors western. The next year, he appeared as Moose Walters in "A Real Tough Town" of ABC's The Legend of Jesse James, starring Christopher Jones in the title role, with Allen Case as Frank James.[1]

In 1965-1966, he appeared as Curly in the episode "The Golden Trail" and as Sergeant Mason in "The Dance of the Laughing Death" in NBC's Laredo western series. In 1967 and 1968, he appeared three times in Stuart Whitman's 90-minute western Cimarron Strip in episodes entitled "Journey to a Hanging", "The Deputy", and "The Greeners". Palmer also appeared three times between 1965 and 1968 in Robert Conrad's unconventional western, The Wild Wild West. In 1972, Palmer appeared on ABC's Alias Smith and Jones series.[1]

Palmer was cast as Ezra Parker in the 1969 film The Undefeated, Karl Riker in the 1970 film Chisum and John Goodfellow in the 1971 film Big Jake, all starring John Wayne. He also became a member of the John Wayne Stock Company, founded in 1945, with original members including Ward Bond, Grant Withers, and Paul Fix.[5] In 1976, Palmer was cast as the unnamed "Burly Man" in the last of Wayne's films, The Shootist.[1]

In 1977, Palmer appeared as mountain man Jim Bridger in the two-part Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color presentation "Kit Carson and the Mountain Man". Christopher Connelly starred as Kit Carson, and Robert Reed portrayed John C. Fremont. Gary Lockwood also appeared as Brett Haskell. In 1978, Palmer appeared as Loman in James Arness's second western, How the West Was Won.[1]

Other roles[edit]

In 1955, Palmer portrayed Lieutenant Manning in the autobiographical Audie Murphy World War II film To Hell and Back. Palmer played an unemployed actor in The Rebel Set (1959). Thereafter, he appeared in numerous drama roles over the years, including the ABC/WB detective shows: Surfside 6 and 77 Sunset Strip. Palmer played Lou Montell in "High Tide", the second episode of Surfside 6. From 1960-1963, he appeared in the 77 Sunset Strip episodes "The Parallel Caper" "Framework for a Badge", and "To Catch a Mink". He also guest starred in the ABC/WB crime drama, The Roaring 20s.

Other drama appearances included Highway Patrol, Navy Log, The Lineup, The Millionaire, Lloyd Bridges's Sea Hunt, The Untouchables (uncredited as Paul Di Marco), Run for Your Life, The Long Hot Summer (as Grant Johnson in episode "Man with Two Faces"), Cannon, Tarzan, CHiPs, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek, as a rancher in the 1968 episode "Spectre of the Gun".[1]

He also appeared in the 1981 slasher film Scream (1981).

There were even a few sitcom appearances, including a recurring role as Harry on the CBS series Run, Buddy, Run, starring Jack Sheldon. He appeared too on CBS's Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and The Good Guys, on NBC's Get Smart and the 1957 version of Blondie.[1]

Later years[edit]

Palmer's last screen appearance was as a colonel in the 1982 ABC miniseries The Blue and the Gray.[1]

A widower, Palmer lives in Encino, California, and is an avid golfer. His wife, Ruth Palmer, died in 1999. Palmer has attended Golden Boot programs but has not won the award himself.[2]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Gregg Palmer". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 21, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography of Gregg Palmer". IMDB. Retrieved February 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ p.326 Weaver, Tom Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews McFarland, 2000
  4. ^ "Stories of the Century: "Jack Slade", March 4, 1955". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ John Wayne by Randy Roberts and James Stuart Olson. Google Books. ISBN 978-0-02-923837-0. Retrieved February 22, 2009.