Ben Alexander (actor)

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Ben Alexander
Ben Alexander 1959.JPG
Ben Alexander, 1959
Born (1911-06-27)June 27, 1911
Goldfield, Nevada, U.S.
Died July 6, 1969(1969-07-06) (aged 58)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926–1969

Nicholas Benton "Ben" Alexander (June 27, 1911 – July 6, 1969) was an American motion picture actor, who started out as a child actor in 1916.

Life and career[edit]

Ben Alexander as a child actor

Ben Alexander was born in Goldfield, Nevada, and raised in California. Alexander made his screen debut at age of five in Every Pearl a Tear. He went on to portray Lillian Gish's young brother in D.W. Griffith's Hearts of the World. After a number of silent films, he retired from screen work but came back for the World War I classic, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), in which Alexander received good notices as an adult actor as "Kemmerick", the tragic amputation victim.[citation needed]

Alexander played leads and second leads in many low-budget films throughout the 1930s.

He found a new career as a successful radio announcer in the late 1940s, including a stint on the Martin and Lewis program. Alexander also acted on radio, playing Philip West in the 1939-40 soap opera Brenthouse on the Blue Network.[1]

In 1952, Jack Webb, actor-producer-director of Dragnet, needed a replacement for Barton Yarborough, who had played Detective Romero opposite Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday Friday. Webb selected Alexander but had to wait until he was available. A few actors filled in as Friday's partners until Alexander appeared in the newly created role of Officer Frank Smith, first in the radio series and then on television. The popular series ran until 1959. When Webb revived it in 1966, he wanted Alexander to rejoin him; but Alexander had just signed to play the role of Sgt. Dan Briggs on the weekly ABC series Felony Squad.[citation needed]


Alexander and his family in 1961. Pictured are his daughter, Lesley, his son, Bradford, and his wife, Lesley.

Owned and operated the Ben Alexander Ford car dealership in the Highland Park neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, from c. 1953 until his death in 1969, and a San Francisco branch was formed in 1959.[2] In the mid-1950s there was also Ben Alexander's Dream House Motel on Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. In the late 50's and early 60's, Alexander ran a talent show for young people out of Oakland, California. "The Ben Alexander Talent Show" was broadcast on Oakland's KTVU TV, a local station in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The actor was found dead in his home of natural causes when his wife and children returned home from a camping trip.[3]

His son Nicholas, Jr.(or "Nick") started one of the first BMW dealerships in the U.S.(in downtown Los Angeles), currently operated by his daughter Elizabeth.

For his contribution to the entertainment industry Ben Alexander has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television, radio, and movies.




  • Dragnet (Co-writer, 6 episodes)


  1. ^ Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 118.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "TV Actor Found Dead". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 7 July 1969. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hayde, Michael J. My Name's Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet. Cumberland House: 2001.

External links[edit]