Ben Alexander (actor)
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Ben Alexander, 1959
June 27, 1911|
Goldfield, Nevada, U.S.
|Died||July 6, 1969
Hollywood, California, U.S.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
- Each Pearl a Tear (1916)
- The Little American (1917)
- Little Orphant Annie (1918)
- The One Woman (1918)
- Hearts of the World (1918)
- The Lady of the Dugout (1918)
- The Heart of Rachael (1918)
- The Turn in the Road (1919)
- The White Heather (1919) - Donald Cameron
- Josselyn's Wife (1919) - Tommy Josselyn
- The Hushed Hour (1919)
- The Mayor of Filbert (1919)
- Tangled Threads (1919)
- The Better Wife (1919)
- The Triflers (1920)
- The Family Honor (1920)
- The Notorious Mrs. Sands (1920)
- Through Eyes of Men (1920)
- Blue Streak McCoy (1920)
- The Heart Line (1921)
- In the Name of the Law (1922)
- Penrod and Sam (1923)
- The Yankee Spirit (1923)
- Jealous Husbands (1923)
- Boy of Mine (1923) - Bill Latimer
- Barnum Junior (1924)
- Junior Partner (1924)
- A Self-Made Failure (1924) - Sonny
- Dirty Hand (1924)
- Flaming Love (1925)
- Pampered Youth (1925/I)
- Wildcat Willie (1925)
- The Shining Adventure (1925)
- The Highbinders (1926)
- Scotty of the Scouts (1926)
- Fighting for Fame (1927)
- Two to One (1927)
- The Lunkhead (1929)
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
- A Wise Child (1931)
- Mystery Ship (1931)
- Many a Slip (1931)
- It's a Wise Child (1931)
- Are These Our Children (1931)
- Suicide Fleet (1931) - Kid
- High Pressure (1932)
- Tom Brown of Culver (1932)
- The Vanishing Frontier (1932)
- Alias the Professor (1933)
- Mister Mugg (1933)
- Roadhouse Queen (1933)
- Daddy Knows Best (1933)
- What Price Innocence? (1933)
- This Day and Age (1933)
- Stage Mother (1933)
- Once to Every Woman (1934)
- The Most Precious Thing in Life (1934)
- The Life of Vergie Winters (1934)
- Flirtation (1934)
- Grand Old Girl (1935)
- Born to Gamble (1935) - Paul Mathews
- Reckless Roads (1935)
- Annapolis Farewell (1935)
- The Fire Trap (1935)
- Hearts in Bondage (1936)
- Red Lights Ahead (1936) - George Wallace
- The Legion of Missing Men (1937)
- The Outer Gate (1937)
- Western Gold (1937)
- The Spy Ring (1938)
- Russian Dressing (1938)
- Mr. Doodle Kicks Off (1938) - Larry Weldon
- Convict's Code (1939) - Jeff Palmer
- Buried Alive (1939)
- Criminals Within (1943)
- Man in the Shadow (1957)
- The Joseph Cotten Show, also known as On Trial (1 episode, 1957)
- The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford (January 24, 1957)
- Dragnet (regular, 1952–1959)
- Take A Good Look (Semi-regular 1959-1960)
- About Faces (1960-1961)
- Batman (1 episode, 1966)
- Felony Squad (Unknown episodes, 1966–1969)
- Judd, for the Defense (1 episode, 1969)
- Dragnet (Co-writer, 6 episodes)
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 118.
- "TV Actor Found Dead". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 7 July 1969. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- Hayde, Michael J. My Name's Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet. Cumberland House: 2001.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ben Alexander (actor).|
- Ben Alexander at the Internet Movie Database
- Ben Alexander at AllMovie
- Ben Alexander at Find a Grave