Don Gordon (actor)

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Don Gordon
Donald Walter Guadagno

(1926-11-13)November 13, 1926
DiedApril 24, 2017(2017-04-24) (aged 90)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeWestwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationFilm, television actor
Years active1949–1993
  • Helen Westcott (1928–1998)
    (m. 1948; div. 1953)
  • (m. 1954; div. 1958)
  • Bek Nelson (1927–2015)
    (m. 1959; div. 1979)
  • Denise Farr
    (m. 1979)

Don Gordon (born Donald Walter Guadagno; November 13, 1926 – April 24, 2017)[2] was an American film and television actor. His most notable film roles were those in which he appeared alongside his friend Steve McQueen: Bullitt (1968), Papillon (1973) and The Towering Inferno (1974).[citation needed] Between the first and the last of those films he appeared in The Gamblers (1970), WUSA (1970), Cannon for Cordoba (1970), The Last Movie (1971), Z.P.G. (1972), Fuzz (1972), Slaughter (1972), The Mack (1973), The Education of Sonny Carson (1974) and Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981) as the ill-fated assistant to the adult Antichrist, Damien Thorn.


Gordon's television successes began with a starring role in the 1960–1961 syndicated series The Blue Angels, based on the elite precision flight demonstration pilots of the United States Navy Blue Angels.[3] In 1962, Gordon was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for his role as Joey Tassili on CBS's legal drama, The Defenders,[4] starring E.G. Marshall. During 1977–1978, he co-starred in the television show Lucan,[3]:632 and he played Harry in the CBS drama The Contender (1980).[3]:207

Additional television appearances[edit]

Gordon appeared in the 1959 episode "In a Deadly Fashion" of the syndicated television series Border Patrol, starring Richard Webb. He also guest starred in John Bromfield's syndicated crime drama, U.S. Marshal. Another early appearance from Gordon was in a memorable supporting role in CBS's The Twilight Zone episodes "The Four of Us Are Dying" and "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross".

During 1959 and 1960, Gordon twice guest starred on McQueen's CBS western series, Wanted: Dead or Alive. In 1962, he appeared in "The Ginny Littlesmith Story" of ABC's The Untouchables. In 1963, he appeared in the episode "Without Wheat, There is No Bread" of the CBS anthology series, The Lloyd Bridges Show. That same year, he appeared on NBC's medical drama, The Eleventh Hour. In the 1963–64 season, he played a soldier returning from South Vietnam in the ABC drama, Channing, set on the fictitious Channing College campus.

Still another 1963 performance was as Quinn Serrato, with Harry Dean Stanton as Nick Crider and William Schallert as Sully Mason, in the episode "Nobody Dies on Saturday" of the NBC modern western series, Empire. Gordon appeared in two episodes of The Outer Limits entitled "The Invisibles" and "Second Chance".

In 1964, Gordon appeared as deputy sheriff Morgan Fallon in "Tug Of War" an episode of The Fugitive series. In 1967, he appeared as Charlie Gilman in "The Trial", an episode in the second season of "The Invaders" series, and appeared in an episode of The Wild Wild West. In 1974, he played a former convict who is set up and murdered by the character played by Dick Van Dyke in the Columbo episode "Negative Reaction", starring Peter Falk. During the second season of the tv series Twelve O'Clock High he appeared as Capt. Bradovich and in the third season episode entitled "The Fighter Pilot".

Gordon played the U.S. Navy diving expert brother of Seaview crewman Kowalski in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "Deadly Waters." In 1983, Gordon appeared on CBS's The Dukes Of Hazzard as hit man Frank Scanlon, in the sixth season episode "Enos' Last Chance".

Later career[edit]

Gordon's last credited film work was the 2005 documentary, Steve McQueen – The Essence of Cool. Gordon was interviewed along with several others who had worked with McQueen, with whom he was a close friend and colleague.

Personal life[edit]

On February 18, 1948, Gordon married actress Helen Westcott in Oxnard, California.[5] They divorced in 1953.[6][7] He married actress Bek Nelson on December 31, 1959, in Los Angeles. They adopted a daughter, Gabrielle, in 1966, and they divorced on May 23, 1979.[8]

Gordon died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center[2] in Los Angeles on April 24 2017, aged 90, survived by a wife, Denise and daughter Gabrielle from a previous marriage.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Barnes, Mike (May 5, 2017). "Don Gordon, Top-Notch Character Actor and Pal of Steve McQueen, Dies at 90". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 26 July 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  4. ^ "("Don Gordon" search results)". EMMYS. Television Academy. Archived from the original on July 26, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "Marriages". Billboard. March 20, 1948. p. 48. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Wagner, Laura (Fall 2016). "Helen Westcott: "A Very Gifted Actress"". Films of the Golden Age (86): 74–76.
  8. ^ Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960–1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. p. 318. ISBN 9781476628561. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  9. ^ Don Gordon, Steve McQueen’s Sidekick Onscreen and in Life, Dies at 90 The New York Times, May 7 2017. Retrieved May 14 2017.

External links[edit]