Porter as Russell Lawrence on the 1965 sitcom Gidget
September 24, 1912
Miami, Oklahoma, U.S.
February 11, 1997 (aged 84)|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Years active||1939 – 1988|
Peggy Converse (m. 1944)
Donald "Don" Porter (September 24, 1912 – February 11, 1997) was an American actor who appeared in a number of films in the 1940s, including Top Sergeant and Eagle Squadron, but is perhaps best known for his television roles as Peter Sands, the boss of Ann Sothern's character on Private Secretary,:857 and as Russell Lawrence, the widowed father of 15-year-old Frances "Gidget" Lawrence (Sally Field), in the 1965 ABC sitcom Gidget.
Life and career
He was born in Miami, Oklahoma, Porter's obituary in the Deseret News reported that his career in show business began in Portland, Oregon, after he served in World War II, but lists of his film credit indicate he began in Hollywood in 1939 and acted throughout the war years.
Besides his work in film and television, Porter was active on stage, as he acted in more than 200 plays. His Broadway credits include The Front Page (1968), Plaza Suite (1967), and Any Wednesday (1963).
He appeared in various films in the 1940s before landing the role of Peter Sands, the boss of Susan Camille MacNamara (Ann Sothern) on the 1950s sitcom Private Secretary. A retooled version of the series appeared later, titled The Ann Sothern Show. It featured many of the same actors, including Porter as hotel manager James Devery, in the venue of a fashionable New York City hotel. He later guest starred on episodes of Green Acres, Love, American Style, The Mod Squad, Barnaby Jones, The Six Million Dollar Man, Hawaii Five-O, Three's Company (on which he played Jack Tripper's uncle), and Switch. Porter also had a lucrative stage career that included the long-running hit Any Wednesday (1964) opposite Sandy Dennis and Gene Hackman.
Porter also appeared in numerous films including The Turning Point (1952), Our Miss Brooks (1956), Gidget Goes to Rome (playing Russell Lawrence two years prior to repeating the role in the series), The Candidate (1972), and as Mr. Upson in the film adaptation of Mame (1974) with Lucille Ball and Bea Arthur. Porter made his last onscreen appearance in a 1988 episode of CBS Summer Playhouse.
Personal life and death
Porter was married to actress Peggy Converse with whom he had two children. He died at the age of 84 at his home in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, 1997. He was survived by his wife, a son, two sisters, a brother, and two grandchildren.
|1939||Mystery of the White Room||Dr. Donald Fox|
|1941||Sing for Your Supper||Tim||Uncredited|
|1942||Top Sergeant||Al Bennett|
|1942||Eyes of the Underworld||Edward Jason|
|1942||Night Monster||Dick Baldwin|
|1942||Who Done It?||Art Fraser|
|1943||Madame Spy||David Bannister|
|1943||Keep 'Em Slugging||Jerry|
|1944||Resisting Enemy Interrogation||Lieutenant Frank L. Williams, Jr.||Uncredited|
|1946||She-Wolf of London||Barry Lanfield||Alternative title: The Curse of the Allenbys|
|1946||Cuban Pete||Roberts||Alternative title: Down Cuba Way|
|1946||Danger Woman||Professor Claude Ruppert|
|1946||Wild Beauty||Dr. Dave Morrow|
|1947||Buck Privates Come Home||Captain Christie||Alternative title: Rookies Come Home|
|1950||My Friend Irma Goes West||Mr. Brent|
|1950||711 Ocean Drive||Larry Mason|
|1950||Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone||Myron Brynk|
|1951||The Racket||R.G. Connolly|
|1952||Cripple Creek||Denver Jones|
|1952||The Savage||Running Dog||Credited as Donald Porter|
|1952||Because You're Mine||Captain Burton Nordell Loring|
|1952||The Turning Point||Joe Silbray|
|1956||Our Miss Brooks||Lawrence Nolan|
|1957||Desk Set||Elevator operator Don||Uncredited|
Alternative title: His Other Woman
|1961||Bachelor in Paradise||Thomas W. Jynson|
|1963||Gidget Goes to Rome||Russell Lawrence|
|1964||Youngblood Hawke||Ferdie Lax|
|1968||Live a Little, Love a Little||Mike Lansdown|
|1972||The Candidate||Senator Crocker Jarmon|
|1973||40 Carats||Mr. Latham|
|1974||The Morning After||Rudy King|
|1975||White Line Fever||Cutler|
|1975||A Woman for All Men||Barney|
|1979||Butterflies in Heat||Commodore Phillips|
|1980||The Last Song||Philip Brokhurst|
|1985||Joey||Alternative title: Making Contact|
Partial television credits
|1953–1957||Private Secretary||Peter Sands||103 episodes|
|1959–1961||The Ann Sothern Show||James Devery||45 episodes|
|1965–1966||Gidget||Professor Russell Lawrence||32 episodes|
|1969||Judd, for the Defense||Frank Vinton||Episode: "Epitaph on a Computer Card"|
|1971||Green Acres||Manager of Hotel Rexford, Carter||Episode: "Hawaiian Honeymoon"|
|1972||Cade's County||Martin Russell||Episode: "Blackout"|
|1972||Banacek||Arnold Leeland||Episode: "A Million the Hard Way"|
|1972||The Rookies||General Brooker||Episode: "A Deadly Velocity"|
|1973||Hawaii Five-O||Jonathan Cavel-IRS Investigator (The Star in the episode)||Episode: "Murder is a Taxing Affair"|
|The New Adventures of Perry Mason||Otis Temple||Episode: "The Case of the Deadly Deeds"|
|1973||Tenafly||Miles||Episode: "The Cash and Carry Caper"|
|1974||Here's Lucy||Ken Richards||Episode: "Meanwhile, Back At the Office"|
|1974||The Six Million Dollar Man||Dr. Stanley Bacon||Episode: "Population: Zero"|
|1974||Chase||Miller||Episode: "Out of Gas"|
|1974||The F.B.I.||Mason Hammond||Episode: "The Lost Man"|
|1975||Ellery Queen||Gregory Layton||Episode: "The Adventure of Veronica's Veils"|
|1975||McMillan & Wife||Adrian Danzinger||Episode: "Secrets for Sale"|
|1976–1977||The Bionic Woman||Dr. James Courtney||3 episodes|
|1977||Three's Company||Uncle Fremont||Episode: "Jack's Uncle"|
|1978||The Paper Chase||Franklin Ford II||Episode: "The Man Who Would Be King"|
|1978||Vega$||Senator William Mitchell||Episode: "The Games Girls Play"|
|1978||Sword of Justice||Judge Addams||Episode: "Judgement Day"|
|1979||Turnabout||Ed||Episode: "Till Dad Do Us Part"|
|1980||Dallas||Matt Devlin||4 episodes|
|1981||Fantasy Island||Emmett Latham||Episode: "Also Rans/Portrait of Solange"|
|1983||Hotel||Jonathan Corry||Episode: "Faith, Hope & Charity"|
|1986||Matlock||Professor Erskine Tate||Episode: "The Professor"|
Awards and honors
|1974||Daytime Emmy Award||Nominated||Best Actor in Daytime Drama - For a Special Program||The ABC Afternoon Playbreak|
- Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 391. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
- Vosburgh, Dick (March 5, 1997). "Obituary: Don Porter". The Independent. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
- Oliver, Myrna (February 20, 1997). "Don Porter; Actor Played TV Bosses and Gidget's Father". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
- "Actor Don Porter Dies at 84 in L.A." Deseret News. February 20, 1997. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
- "("Don Porter" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
- "Don Porter, 84, Actor In Sitcoms and Films". The New York Times. February 24, 1997. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
- Willis, John; Lynch, Tom (2000). Theatre World 1996-1997. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 259. ISBN 9781557833433. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
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