Sutton in a October 1969 publicity photo
Frank Spencer Sutton|
October 23, 1923
Clarksville, Tennessee, U.S.
June 28, 1974 (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)|
Sutton was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. He 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."
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. Sutton was a sergeant who served from 1943-1946 in the 293rd Joint Assault Signal Company. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He had been medically rejected by the Marine Corps.
Honorably discharged at the war's end as a sergeant, he began acting on stage. 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, 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. Sutton performed in dinner theater, playing, among other roles, the father in Norman, Is That You? and made guest appearances on other television programs.
Personal life and death
On June 28, 1974, while preparing for a performance in the comedy play, Luv, at the Beverly Barn Dinner Playhouse in Shreveport, Louisiana, Sutton died of a heart attack. His remains are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in his hometown of Clarksville.
|1950—1955||Tom Corbett, Space Cadet||Cadet Eric Raddison|
|1954||The Glenn Miller Story||uncredited|
|1956||The Edge of Night||Sgt. Fitzsimmons|
|1958—1961||Naked City||Franklin Maquon|
|1960—1961||The Secret Storm||Joe Sullivan #2|
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)
|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:
|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|
- "Gomer's Sgt. Carter, Frank Sutton, Dead". St. Petersburg Times. Times Publishing Company. June 29, 1974. p. 14-A. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
- Handsaker, Gene (August 21, 1966). "Visiting the Real War". St. Petersburg Times. Times Publishing Company. p. 4. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
- Kleiner, Dick (March 29, 1997). "Reader asks what preceded 'Gomer Pyle'?". Calhoun Times: 3. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
- Lowry, Cynthia (July 29, 1965). "Gomer Pyle Show Scored Immediately". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press. p. 4. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
- "Nabors' Production Still Popular". Rome News-Tribune. News Publishing Company. October 16, 1970. pp. 9–A. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
- "Complete Television Programs for Thursday". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. September 17, 1970. p. 48. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
- Rearden, T. J. (May 18, 1972). "Roaming Around Florida". The Deuniak Springs Herald. p. 10. Retrieved November 23, 2008.[dead link]