Television screen capture
March 13, 1911|
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||June 14, 1977
Encino, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Congestive heart failure|
|Alma mater||Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
Carnegie Institute of Technology
|Occupation||Film, television actor|
|Spouse(s)||Roberta Middleton (1951-1956) (divorced) 2 children|
Robert Middleton, (born Samuel G. Messer, May 13, 1911 – June 14, 1977), was an American film and television actor known for his large size and beetle-like brow. With a deep, booming voice, Middleton trained for a musical career at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked steadily as a radio announcer and actor.
One of his early works was as the narrator of the educational film "Duck and Cover". After appearing on the Broadway stage and live television, Middleton began appearing in films in 1954. He is also remembered on television as the boss Mr. Marshall on CBS's The Jackie Gleason Show and in film opposite Humphrey Bogart in The Desperate Hours (1955), Danny Kay in The Court Jester (1955), Gary Cooper in Friendly Persuasion (1956), Richard Egan and Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender (1956), Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack in The Tarnished Angels (1958), Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark in The Law and Jake Wade (1958), and Dean Martin in Career (1959).
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Middleton appeared in many television programs in the 1950s and 1960s, including the CBS anthology series Appointment with Adventure. He played a dishonest candidate for the United States House of Representatives in an episode of ABC's The Real McCoys, starring Walter Brennan and Richard Crenna. In the story line, Middleton falsely claimed to have previously been a farmer in a bid for the farm vote. Middleton was cast as "The Tichborne Claimant" in the NBC anthology series The Joseph Cotten Show. He was cast as Arthur Sutro in the 1961 episode "The Road to Jericho" of the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams.
In 1958, Middleton was cast in the episode "Ambush in Laredo" as Frank Davis, who attempts in Laredo, Texas, to merge five outlaw gangs into one, in the ABC Walt Disney miniseries Texas John Slaughter, with Tom Tryon in the title role.
Middleton was cast in ten episodes of the ABC family western drama, The Monroes, with costars Michael Anderson, Jr., and Barbara Hershey. In 1963 he portrayed Josh Green in the episode "Incident of the Mountain Man" on CBS's Rawhide.
Among his several appearances in the long-running Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he portrayed a gangster in high places, Mr. Koster, in the 1956 episode "The Better Bargain". In 1958, he played the villain in the first episode of NBC's Bat Masterson western series, starring Gene Barry in the title role. In 1961, he appeared in the episode "Accidental Tourist" on the James Whitmore ABC legal drama The Law and Mr. Jones. That same year, he portrayed the highly sympathetic but fiercely dedicated state executioner in an episode of Thriller (U.S. TV series) entitled "Guillotine". He also appeared in at least one episode of Bonanza (1964). Robert Middleton appeared as defendant "Judge Daniel Redmond" in the 1963 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Witless Witness." In the early 1950s, Middleton appeared on Broadway in Ondine. Other significant film roles include The Court Jester (1956) as a grim and determined knight who jousts with Danny Kaye in the famous "pellet with the poison" sequence, and as a sinister politician in The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977). Betwixt and between were an array of brutish mountain daddies, corrupt, cigar-chomping town bosses and lynch mob leaders. Occasionally he showed a bit of levity, as in his recurring role as Jackie Gleason's boss on The Honeymooners (1955) sketches. Mr. Middleton guest starred on Get Smart as the KAOS villian "The Whip", intent on hypnotizing Agent 86 in the 1970 series finale "I Am Curiously Yellow." 
- Actor dies
- "Allmovie.com".. Accessed: February 8, 2014.
- Robert Middleton at the Internet Movie Database.
- "AFI Catalog of Feature Films". Accessed: February 8, 2014.
- Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 116-117
- Get Smart - I Am Curiously Yellow at the Internet Movie Database.
- Robert Middleton at the Internet Movie Database
- Robert Middleton at the TCM Movie Database
- Robert Middleton at Find a Grave
- Robert Middleton interview on YouTube (interviewed in Cincinnati - 1959)