December 17, 1924|
Whitefish, Flathead County, Montana, U.S.
|Died||April 6, 1991
Los Angeles, California
Two sons, Tony Cross and Randy Cross
Dennis Cross (December 17, 1924 – April 6, 1991) was an American actor who was the lead star of the syndicated television series The Blue Angels, fictional stories of daredevil United States Navy pilots which aired from 1960-1961. In addition, he appeared in many television westerns.
Early years, military, acting
Cross was a native of Whitefish, in Flathead County in northwestern Montana. At the age of seventeen, Cross joined the United States Marine Corps and fought against Japanese at the Battle of Guadalcanal. He studied acting through the assistance of the G.I. Bill of Rights at the Actors Lab in Hollywood, located next to Schwab's Drug Store, where several film stars were discovered.
In the early 1950s, Cross moved to New York City and appeared in several live television programs and taped advertising spots. Cross's first acting role was at the age of twenty-seven as Cadet Rob in the 1952 episode "Constitution Island" of the Hallmark Hall of Fame, then on NBC.
He performed with silent film star Lillian Gish in the 1953 episode A Trip to the Bountiful of NBC's Philco Television Playhouse. Having worked the night shift in a factory the day before the shooting of the program, Cross broke his finger, placed it in a splint, but still arrived for the filming. In the episode Cross is shown behind the cage of a bus ticket counter with his finger in the splint selling a ticket to Gish. This particular episode was placed in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
When Cross returned to California, he starred in 1957 as the Indian Coacoochee in the film Naked in the Sun, sometimes called The Osceola Story, about Chief Osceola of the Florida Seminoles tribe. Three years later, he was cast to portray Commander Arthur Richards in thirty-three episodes of The Blue Angels, including "Not for the Moment", "The Sticking Season", "Pacific Monteray Story", "Second Best", and "The Blue Leaders", with guest star Ernest Borgnine. The series co-stars included Don Gordon and Ross Elliott.
From 1958-1962, Cross appeared in different roles in six episodes of Chuck Connors's The Rifleman on ABC series. His Rifleman roles were as Witcherly in "The Safe Guard", Ned Dunnell in "The Gaucho", Lafe Oberly as "The Patsy", Dorn in "The Hero", Fance Degnan in "The Vision", and Martin in "The Quiet Fear".
Cross guest starred thirteen times between 1956 and 1969 on CBS's Gunsmoke with James Arness, including the role of the Native American Three Hand in the 1965 episode "Chief Joseph". Cross appeared five times on CBS's Rawhide between 1959–1963 and five times as well on ABC's The Big Valley between 1965 and 1967. He made three appearances in 1968 and 1969 on Walter Brennan's ABC series, The Guns of Will Sonnett in episodes "Pariah", "Join the Army", and "Robber's Roose". He also appeared three times on the syndicated anthology series Death Valley Days in episodes "Treasure of Elk Canyon" (1961), and "Captain Dick Mine" and "The Rider" (both 1965).
He appeared twice on Fess Parker's NBC series, Daniel Boone, including the role of Chief Red Hand in the 1966 episode "Gun-Barrel Highway". Cross also made two appearances in the 1959-1960 ABC series Black Saddle starring Peter Breck. In 1958, he appeared twice on Richard Boone's CBS series, Have Gun – Will Travel, in the episodes "Hey Boy's Revenge" and "Twenty-Four Hours at North Fork". Cross guest starred twice on both Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre and Henry Fonda's The Deputy. He appeared once on each of the Dale Robertson westerns, Tales of Wells Fargo ("Man for the Job" as Lambert) and The Iron Horse ("Town Full of Fear" as Jim Vail).
He made single appearances on The Texan, Jefferson Drum, Sheriff of Cochise, The Gray Ghost, The Texan, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Man Without a Gun, Hotel de Paree, Two Faces West, The Virginian, Branded, The Legend of Jesse James (in episode "The Pursuers" as Meager), Bonanza, Cimarron Strip, The High Chaparral, Wichita Town, Robert Culp's Trackdown, and Don Murray's The Outcasts.
Cross appeared also in drama programs, including the episodes "The Golden Carpet" and "The Middle Man" of ABC's 1961-1962 crime drama, Target: The Corruptors! with Stephen McNally and Robert Harland. He guest starred on the syndicated police series, Sheriff of Cochise, the anthology series, The Dick Powell Show, the World War II combat drama, The Gallant Men, Keenan Wynn's The Troubleshooters, David Janssen's The Fugitive, Mike Connors's Tightrope, Playhouse 90, Robert Wagner's It Take a Thief, and The F.B.I..
Cross's later roles included two appearances as a sheriff on ABC's The Mod Squad (1969–1970) and twice on CBS's Mission: Impossible in episodes "Mindbend" (1971) and "Underground" as Arnold Lutz (1972). His last acting role was as a man in the church congregation on CBS's The Waltons in the 1976 episode, "The Cloudburst".
He appeared in a few films: The Brass Legend (1956) with Hugh O'Brian and Raymond Burr, Crime of Passion (1957), The Over-the-Hill Gang (1969) with Walter Brennan, 80 Steps to Jonah (1969), and The Bounty Man (1972), a television movie.
Cross's son, Randy Cross, born in New York City in 1954, is a former professional football player and sports broadcaster. The Crosses were living in Encino, California, in the 1970s, when he retired from acting and became a vice president of the Doctors Insurance Company in Santa Monica. He died in Los Angeles at the age of sixty-six.