Barney Phillips

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Barney Phillips
Barney Phillips on Dragnet
Bernard Philip Ofner

(1913-10-20)October 20, 1913
DiedAugust 17, 1982(1982-08-17) (aged 68)
Occupation(s)Film, television and radio actor
Years active1937–1982
SpouseMarie A. Davis (?–1982)

Bernard Philip Ofner (October 20, 1913 – August 17, 1982), better known by his stage name Barney Phillips, was an American film, television, and radio actor. His most prominent roles include that of Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the 1950s Dragnet television series, appearances in the 1960s on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian living under cover on Earth in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?", and a supporting role as actor Fletcher Huff in the short-lived 1970s CBS series, The Betty White Show.

Biography and career[edit]

He was born in St Louis, Missouri, to Harry Nathan Ofner, a commercial salesman for the leather industry, and Leona (Frank) Ofner, a naturalized citizen of German origin, who went by the nickname Lonnie.[1] He grew up and was educated in St. Louis, then moved to Los Angeles after he graduated from college in 1935.

Interested in acting, he got a small part in an independently produced Grade-B Western called Black Aces in 1937, but his show business career then languished. In 1940, he was in Meet the People on Broadway.[2]

Phillips enlisted in the United States Army in July 1941,[3] serving in the signal corps during World War II.

Following the war, Phillips procured small parts in several films during 1949–1952, before getting a regular role on the NBC television version of Jack Webb's Dragnet, as Sgt. Jacobs. He also voiced the recurring role of Hamilton J. Finger, a police sergeant in Frank Sinatra's radio program Rocky Fortune in 1953 and 1954.[4] Thereafter, he was a prolific character actor in both films and television series throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, he played Mr. Jamison in the I Love Lucy episode "Ricky's European Booking." He also played minor roles in two episodes of Perry Mason, including Mr. Johnson in "The Case of the Wintry Wife" in 1961. In the 1959-60 television season, Phillips portrayed police Lieutenant Geller in the syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight, starring Edmond O'Brien as a New York City actor-turned-private detective. The following season, Phillips appeared as another police lieutenant, named "Avery," in seven episodes of the syndicated crime drama The Brothers Brannagan, starring Stephen Dunne and Mark Roberts.

In 1959 he had a steady role on Gunsmoke as Long Branch Salon Co-Owner Bill Pence.

In 1962, Phillips was cast as the historical General Winfield Scott Hancock in the episode "The Truth Teller" of the syndicated anthology series Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. The episode focuses on the negotiations leading to the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. Ed Kemmer appeared as investigative reporter Henry Morton Stanley, who assesses Hancock's success in avoiding war on the frontier. Charles Carlson, who had a limited acting career from 1960 to 1967, was cast as Wild Bill Hickok.[5]

Phillips remained active in television through the 1970s until his death in 1982. He was generally a guest star or featured player (e.g. a one-time appearance as an escaped criminal on the Andy Griffith Show); but he did have a number of recurring character roles in television, as series regular "Doc" Kaiser in Twelve O'Clock High (1964–1967), and as a regular on The Betty White Show (1977–1978). However, his best known role is likely to be as a diner counterman who is revealed to be a three-eyed extraterrestrial in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?", a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone.

Among many other appearances, Phillips can be seen briefly in Stan Freberg's Jeno's pizza roll commercial.


Phillips died of cancer at the age of 68 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.[6]

Partial filmography[edit]

Selection of television credits[edit]


  1. ^ 1930 US Census for Missouri
  2. ^ "Meet the People Original Broadway Cast 1940". Broadway World. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  3. ^ US Army Military Enlistment Records, WWII
  4. ^ Rocky Fortune Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  5. ^ "The Truth Teller on Death Valley Days". IMDb. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  6. ^ "'Dragnet' actor Phillips dies". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. Associated Press. August 21, 1982. p. 4. Retrieved September 5, 2016 – via open access

External links[edit]