in The Admiral Was a Lady (1950)
|Born||John Richard Erdmann
June 1, 1925
Enid, Oklahoma, USA
|Other names||Dick Erdman|
|Occupation||Actor, television director|
|Spouse(s)||Leza Holland (married 1948-1950)
Sharon Randall (married 1953)
Early life and career
Erdman was born John Richard Erdmann in Enid in northern Oklahoma. He played in his first film Mr. Skeffington with Bette Davis and Claude Rains in 1944. After a few smaller roles he got success as a character actor in supporting roles, often playing roles which were much older than him. In a career that has spanned seven decades, his best-known roles are that of the barracks chief Hoffy in Stalag 17, and McNulty in the classic Twilight Zone episode "A Kind of a Stopwatch". In Tora Tora Tora he played Colonel Edward F. French, the officer who responded to the failure to transmit the warning to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
From 1953 to 1954, Erdman also co-starred with Ray Bolger in ABC sitcom, Where's Raymond?. Erdman was cast as the pessimistic Pete Morrisey, Ray's landlord and press agent. In 1956, he was cast in the episode "Man on the Totem Pole" of the religion anthology series, Crossroads. Erdman appeared as blackmailer and murder victim Arthur Binney in the Perry Mason first season television episode, "The Case Of The Gilded Lily," which aired on CBS on May 24, 1958. During the nine-year run of Perry Mason, he appeared in five other episodes, often cast as the actual murderer, such as Charles (Monty) Montrose in the 1962 episode, "The Case of the Absent Artist," Harry Niles in the 1964 episode, "The Case of the Antic Angel," and Jud Bennett in the 1966 episode, "The Case of the Vanishing Victim." He appeared as Sergeant Jasper in Walt Disney's miniseries The Swamp Fox.
From 1960 to 1961, Erdman was a regular in thirty-two episodes of NBC's single-season sitcom, The Tab Hunter Show, having been cast in the role of the wealthy Richard Fairchild, III. In 1962, Erdman had a recurring role as Klugie, the photographer, in fourteen episodes of the NBC drama series, Saints and Sinners, the cast of which included Nick Adams. In 1965, he played Colonel Millbank in the episode "The Black Box" of CBS's Petticoat Junction, a rural sitcom starring Bea Benaderet and Edgar Buchanan. That same year, he was cast comically as Buck Brown, a Broadway wardrobe man, on CBS's The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also directed the 1971 TV film Mooch Goes to Hollywood.
From 1978 to 1982, he appeared in four episodes of CBS's Lou Grant, starring Ed Asner. In two of those segments he was cast as Hal Hennecker. In 1986 he appeared as Duncan Fitzgerald on Cheers in the episode "Money Dearest", playing a wealthy widower who becomes engaged to Cliff Clavin's mother Esther (played by Frances Sternhagen). In 1990, Erdman appeared as Howard Banks on Wings in the episode "Around the World in Eighty Years". Since 2009 Erdman has a recurring role as the old student Leonard Rodriguez on Community.
Erdman and his wife Sharon had one daughter, Erica, who was born in 1954 and died in 2010 of an accidental overdose of prescription medicine. Erica was a poet and illustrator (The Ellyn Maybe Coloring Book) and the author of one full-length collection of poems (The Apocalyptic Kid).
- Objective, Burma (1945)