Ian Wolfe

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Ian Wolfe
Ian Wolfe in Dressed to Kill (1946).png
Wolfe in Dressed to Kill (1946)
Ian Marcus Wolfe

(1896-11-04)November 4, 1896
DiedJanuary 23, 1992(1992-01-23) (aged 95)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other namesIen Wulf, Ian Macwolfe, Ian Wolf
Years active1934–1990
Elizabeth Schroder
(m. 1924)

Ian Marcus Wolfe (November 4, 1896 – January 23, 1992)[1] was an American character actor with around 400 film and television credits. Until 1934, he worked in the theatre. That year, he appeared in his first film role and later television, as a character actor. His career lasted seven decades and included many films and TV series; his last screen credit was in 1990.

Early years[edit]

Born in Canton, Illinois, Wolfe studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.[1]


Wolfe's stage debut came in The Claw (1919).[1] His Broadway credits include The Deputy (1964), Winesburg, Ohio (1958), Lone Valley (1933), Devil in the Mind (1931), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1931), Lysistrata (1930), The Seagull (1930), At the Bottom (1930), Skyrocket (1929), Gods of the Lightning (1928), and The Claw (1921).[2]

Wolfe made his film debut in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934).[3] He appeared in many films, including Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942), Julius Caesar (1953), James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and George Lucas's THX 1138[4] (1971). Although he was American by birth, his experience in the theatre gave him precise diction, and he was often cast as Englishmen on screen, including a fictional commissioner of Scotland Yard in the final film in the 1939–1946 Sherlock Holmes film series, Dressed to Kill (1946). He also appeared in three other films in the series, as an American antiques dealer in Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943), as a butler in The Scarlet Claw (1944), and as an art dealer in The Pearl of Death (1944). He played Carter, Sir Wilfrid Robarts's clerk and office manager in Witness for the Prosecution (1957).

Wolfe played a crooked small-town doctor in "Six Gun's Legacy", an episode from the first (1949) season of The Lone Ranger. Wolfe appeared in the 1966 Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Midnight Howler" as Abel Jackson. In 1966, he portrayed the new Rev. Leighton on The Andy Griffith Show ("Aunt Bee's Crowning Glory", broadcast October 10, 1966). He also appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek television series: "Bread and Circuses" (1968) as Septimus, and "All Our Yesterdays" (1969) as Mr. Atoz. He guest-starred in a 1977 episode of the ABC crime drama The Feather and Father Gang,[5] and portrayed the wizard Tranquil in the series Wizards and Warriors (1983).[6] In 1982, Wolfe had a small recurring role on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati as Hirsch, the sarcastic, irreverent butler to WKRP owner Lillian Carlson.

Central to Wolfe's appeal as a character actor was that, until he reached actual old age, he always looked considerably older than he actually was. In the film Mad Love (1935), he played Colin Clive's stepfather, yet he was only four years older than Clive. In the film Houdini (1953), he warned the magician to avoid occult matters, telling him to "take the advice of an old man". He appeared in movies for another 37 years; his last film credit was for Dick Tracy (1990).

Personal life[edit]

During World War I, Wolfe served in the United States Army as a volunteer medical specialist.[1][7] He became a sergeant.[3]

Wolfe wrote and self-published two books of poetry, Forty-Four Scribbles and a Prayer: Lyrics and Ballads and Sixty Ballads and Lyrics in Search of Music.

He was married to Elizabeth Schroder for 68 years, from 1924 until his death; the couple had two daughters. Wolfe died on January 23, 1992, aged 95.[1]

Partial filmography[edit]

Partial television credits[edit]

  • Bonanza, episode "The Avenger" (1960) as Ed Baxter; episode "Bank Run" (1961) as John J. Harrison; episode "The Many Faces of Gideon Flinch" (1961) as Gideon Flinch; episode "The Spotlight" (1965) as Amos
  • The Twilight Zone, episode "Uncle Simon" (1963), as Schwimmer
  • The Invaders, episode "Doomsday Minus One" (1967), as Secretary Rosmundson
  • Star Trek, episode "Bread and Circuses" (1968), as Septimus; episode "All Our Yesterdays" (1969), as Mr. Atoz
  • The Partridge Family, episode "Road Song" (1971), as Maggie's grandfather
  • The Devil's Daughter (1973 film) - (American Broadcasting Company) Television film, 9th. Jan.)
  • A Touch of Grace, episode "The Reunion" (1973)
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show, episode "Anyone Who Hates Kids and Dogs" (1975), as Grandfather
  • All In The Family, episode "Unequal Partners" (1977), as Herbert Hooper
  • Barney Miller, Season 4, episode "Thanksgiving" (1977), as unnamed psyche-ward patient
  • WKRP in Cincinnati, episode "A Simple Little Wedding" (1981), "The Consultant" (1981), "Love, Exciting and New" (1982), "Up and Down the Dial" (1982) as Hirsch – Mrs Carlson's butler
  • Barney Miller, episode "The Tontine" (1982), as Joseph Spidonie
  • Cheers, episode "One for the Book" (1982), as Buzz Crowder


  1. ^ a b c d e Oliver, Myrna (January 26, 1992). "Ian Wolfe, 95; Character Actor of Stage, Movies, TV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  2. ^ ""Ian Wolfe" search results". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Edwards, Alanson (July 9, 1934). "Ian Wolfe in Movie Debut". Globe-Gazette. Iowa, Mason City. United Press. p. 31. Retrieved July 11, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Greenspun, Roger (March 12, 1971). "THX 1138 (1971) Lucas's 'THX1138':Love Is a Punishable Crime in Future". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Stefanie Powers Official Website – Feather and Father Gang". www.stefaniepowersonline.com.
  6. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 1187–1188. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  7. ^ "Ian Wolfe: Veteran character actor". San Francisco Examiner. Associated Press. January 27, 1992 – via Newspapers.com. open access

External links[edit]