Frank Sutton

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Frank Spencer Sutton
Jim Nabors Frank Sutton Gomer Pyle 1966.JPG
Sutton (right) as Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter with Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, 1966.
Born Frank Spencer Sutton
(1923-10-23)October 23, 1923
Clarksville, Tennessee, U.S.
Died June 28, 1974(1974-06-28) (aged 50)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Greenwood Cemetery in Clarksville, Tennessee
Alma mater Columbia University
Spouse(s) Toby Igler Sutton (married 1949-1974, his death)
Children Joseph and Amanda
Parent(s) Frank Sims and Dorris Thelma Spencer Sutton

Frank Spencer Sutton (October 23, 1923 – June 28, 1974) was an American actor best remembered for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter on the CBS television series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Early life[edit]

Sutton was born in Clarksville in Montgomery County in northern Tennessee, the only child of Frank Sims Sutton (1885-1938) and the former Dorris Thelma Spencer (1903-1986).[1] When he was eight years old, his father became employed as a Linotype operator at the Nashville Tennessean in Nashville. His father died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage and left behind his wife and 14-year-old son.

Sutton developed an interest in acting, playing his first role at age nine and also starring in the drama club at East Nashville High School, where he graduated in 1941. He later said, "The first time I walked out on a stage, I had a warm feeling. I knew then I wanted to be an actor."[2]

After high school, Sutton returned to Clarksville to become a radio announcer. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and served in the South Pacific, taking part in 14 assault landings.[3]

Acting career[edit]

Honorably discharged at the war's end as a sergeant, he began acting on stage.[4] He attended the Columbia University School of General Studies, graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in drama in 1952.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Sutton played small roles in television shows such as Decoy, Route 66, Naked City, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Fugitive, The Goldbergs, 87th Precinct, Gunsmoke, Target: The Corruptors, Empire, The Twilight Zone, and The Untouchables. He had a continuing role as Cadet Eric Rattison, the great rival of the Polaris Unit manned by the series' heroes, in Tom Corbett, Space Cadet from 1950 to 1955. In 1955, he received his big break in the Academy Award-winning movie Marty, in which he played the title character's friend, Ralph. He also had a role in The Satan Bug, a 1965 spy thriller. He returned to the stage in The Andersonville Trial in the early 1960s.

Having primarily acted in dramas,[5] Sutton's breakthrough role was on "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.", a 1964 episode of The Andy Griffith Show, in which he played the cynical and easily exasperated Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter opposite Jim Nabors' character Gomer Pyle. This episode led to a spin-off TV comedy, Gomer Pyle, USMC, where Sutton continued the role for five seasons, until the show ended its run in 1969. He also appeared in public service announcements in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Carter. After Gomer Pyle ceased production, Sutton appeared regularly on Nabors' variety show The Jim Nabors Hour with Gomer Pyle co-star Ronnie Schell. Sutton played the brother-in-law of Nabors' character in comedy sketches.[6][7] Sutton performed in dinner theater, playing, among other roles, the father in Norman, Is That You? and made guest appearances on other television programs.[8]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1949, Sutton married the former Toby Igler, a soap-opera writer, and they had two children, Joseph and Amanda.[2]

On June 28, 1974, while preparing for a performance in the comedy play, Luv, at the Beverly Barn Dinner Playhouse in Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana, Sutton died of a heart attack.[2] He was 50 years old. His remains are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in his hometown of Clarksville.


Year Title Role(s) Notes
1950—1955 Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Cadet Eric Raddison  
1954 The Glenn Miller Story uncredited
1955 Marty Ralph (uncredited)  
1956 The Edge of Night Sgt. Fitzsimmons  
1958—1961 Naked City Franklin Maquon  
1960—1961 The Secret Storm Joe Sullivan #2  
1961—1962 Gunsmoke Charlie (1961)
Olie (1962)
Billy Marston (1962)
1962 Have Gun – Will Travel Davey Walsh One time role – The Trap (1962)
The Twilight Zone Frank, Jerry's manager One time role in episode "The Dummy"
1962—1963 Combat! (TV series) Corporal Cording – The Chateau (1963)
1962—1963 The Untouchables Benny Stryker (1962)
Smiley Barris (1962)
Angie Stazak (1963)
Sgt. Davey McCain (1963)
  • The Butcher's Boy (1963) … Sgt. Davey McCain
  • The Speculator (1963) … Angie Stazak
  • The Contract (1962) … Smiley Barris
  • The Stryker Brothers (1962) … Benny Stryker
1963 The Fugitive (deputy) Jackson One time role in episode 3 "The Other Side of the Mountain"
1964 The Andy Griffith Show Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter One time role in episode "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."
1964—1969 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter  
1969–1971 The Jim Nabors Hour Himself
1970–1973 Love American Style Various Episodes:
  • Love and the Bonded Separation (1973)
  • Love and the Secret Life (1972)
  • Love and the Guru (1972)
  • Love and the Lady Barber(1971) … Herb Redding
  • Love and the Haunted House (1970) … Walter
Year Title Role Notes
1955 Marty Ralph Uncredited
1957 Four Boys and a Gun Ollie Denker  
1961 Town Without Pity Sgt. Chuck Snyder  
1965 The Satan Bug Donald  
1974 Hurricane Bert Pearson Television movie released posthumously


  1. ^ "Frank Spencer Sutton (1923 - 1974) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Gomer's Sgt. Carter, Frank Sutton, Dead". St. Petersburg Times. Times Publishing Company. June 29, 1974. p. 14-A. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  3. ^ Handsaker, Gene (August 21, 1966). "Visiting the Real War". St. Petersburg Times. Times Publishing Company. p. 4. Retrieved November 22, 2008. 
  4. ^ Kleiner, Dick (March 29, 1997). "Reader asks what preceded 'Gomer Pyle'?". Calhoun Times: 3. Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  5. ^ Lowry, Cynthia (July 29, 1965). "Gomer Pyle Show Scored Immediately". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press. p. 4. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Nabors' Production Still Popular". Rome News-Tribune. News Publishing Company. October 16, 1970. pp. 9–A. Retrieved November 23, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Complete Television Programs for Thursday". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. September 17, 1970. p. 48. Retrieved November 23, 2008. 
  8. ^ Rearden, T. J. (May 18, 1972). "Roaming Around Florida". The Deuniak Springs Herald. p. 10. Retrieved November 23, 2008. [dead link]

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