Paul Birch (actor)
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|Born||Paul Lowery Smith
January 13, 1912
Atmore, Alabama, U.S.
|Died||May 24, 1969
St. George's, Grenada
|Spouse(s)||(1) Margaret Farish, 1 child
(2) Betsy Ross Smith, 3 children
Life and career
Birch was born Paul Lowery Smith in southern Alabama. He was a veteran of thirty-nine films, fifty stage dramas, and numerous television series, including the Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951). In the late 1950s he starred, along with William Campbell, in the syndicated Canadian series, Cannonball (1958), a half-hour drama/adventure show about truckers. In the mid 1950s he appeared in magazine and TV ads as the first widely publicized "Cowboy" Marlboro Man (which may explain his early death, like other Marlboro Men). Birch appeared on Broadway in a production of "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial". He appeared as the Police Captain with the megaphone in "Rebel Without A Cause"(1955), and was one of the first to be "disintegrated" in the original movie "War of the Worlds" (1953).
In 1959, Birch was cast as Sergeant Major Carmody, with Doug McClure as Corporal Jenkins, in the episode "The Face of Courage" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. In the story line, amid the threat of Sioux attack, Carmody commanders the vessel, the Enterprise, while it is delivering military cargo to an Army outpost on the Missouri River. Joanna Moore appears in the episode as Kitty McGuire.
Birch portrayed both Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee in several historical plays. He appeared as President Grant in the 1960 episode "Mr. Simpson" of ABC's Black Saddle western series starring Peter Breck as Clay Culhane, a gunfighter-turned-lawyer. He also portrayed President Grant in two episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.
He was among the original members of the Pasadena Playhouse. His stage work included The Caine Mutiny. He starred in some low-budget science-fiction films in the 1950s, including The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), Not of This Earth (1957) and the cult classic Queen of Outer Space (1958). Birch also had small roles in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1967).
He was married twice and was survived by his second wife, the former Betsy Ross Smith, and their three children, Don, Jennifer and Michael. From his first marriage to the former Margaret Farish, he had a daughter, Cindy.
Birch died at 57 at St. George's, Grenada.
- ""The Face of Courage", December 27, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 23, 2013.