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. 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 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.
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.
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". As of October 2009, he had a recurring role as 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).