March 23, 1917|
Oakland, California, U.S.
|Died||December 22, 2002
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||June Hutton (1968-1972; divorced)
Violet M. Coglan (Penny Parker (1951 - ?; 1 child)
Kenneth Tobey (March 23, 1917 – December 22, 2002) was an American stage, television and film actor.
Born in Oakland, California, Tobey was headed for a law career when he first dabbled in acting at the University of California Little Theater. That experience led to a year-and-a-half of study at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included fellow University of California at Berkeley alumni Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach, and Tony Randall. Throughout the 1940s, Tobey acted on Broadway and in stock; he made his film debut in a 1943 short, The Man of the Ferry. He made his Hollywood film debut in a Hopalong Cassidy western, and went on to appear in scores of features and on numerous television series. He was a sentry guard who was dressed down by General Savage (played by Gregory Peck) in Twelve O' Clock High. A brief comedy bit in I Was a Male War Bride caught the attention of director Howard Hawks, who promised to use Tobey in something more substantial.
The Thing from Another World
In 1951, Tobey was cast in Hawks' production The Thing from Another World, playing Captain Patrick Hendry, a United States Air Force pilot and leader of the arctic polar station's dogged defense against the movie's title character, portrayed by James Arness. That role led to other science fiction film roles in the 1950s, usually cast in the role of a military man, particularly The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), and It Came from Beneath the Sea (1956). He played the sheriff in The Vampire (1957).
He was cast too in the 1954-1955 CBS legal drama, The Public Defender, starring Reed Hadley. He guest starred in three episodes of NBC's western anthology television series, Frontier. His Frontier roles were Wade Trippe in "In Nebraska" (1955) and as Gabe Sharp in "Out from Texas" and "The Hostage" (1956). In 1955, he also portrayed legendary frontiersman Jim Bowie on ABC's Davy Crockett, a Walt Disney Production starring Fess Parker in the title role. After Bowie's death at the Battle of the Alamo, Tobey played a second character, Jocko, in the two final Crockett episodes.
Thereafter, he appeared in the syndicated religion anthology series, Crossroads in the role of Mr. Alston in the 1957 episode "Call for Help". He appeared with John Bromfield in the syndicated Sheriff of Cochise.
Furthermore, in 1957, Tobey launched his own television series The Whirlybirds, a successful CBS and then syndicated adventure produced by Desilu Studios, in which he played the co-owner of a helicopter charter service along with fellow actor Craig Hill. In the series Tobey and Hill did not themselves fly the helicopters, but stunt men handled that task. The Whirlybirds was a major hit in the U.S. and abroad, with 111 episodes filmed through 1959. It remained in syndication worldwide for many years.
In 1958, Tobey appeared as John Wallach in the episode "$50 for a Dead Man" in Jeff Richards's NBC western series, Jefferson Drum. In 1960, he guest starred in the episode "West of Boston" of another NBC western series, Overland Trail starring William Bendix and Doug McClure. He also appeared in the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams. Tobey made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, twice in 1960 and once in 1962, as Deputy D.A. Jack Alvin.
Tobey would guest star on The Thing from Another World's co-star James Arness' long running western series Gunsmoke. He was cast as the villainous buffalo hunter Ben Spadden in the 1960 episode "The Worm".
Between 1960-1962, Tobey made three guest appearances on Perry Mason as Deputy D.A. Jack Alvin.
On December 31, 1961, Tobey guest-starred on the ABC-Warner Brothers western series, Lawman as the engineer Duncan Clooney, who seeks to move a shipment of nitroglycerin through Laramie, Wyoming. When the town is evacuated to allow passage of the explosives, two of Clooney's employees decide they will take advantage of the situation to rob the bank.
Tobey also guest-starred in Jack Lord's 1962-1963 ABC adventure series about a rodeo circuit rider, Stoney Burke. In 1967 he played in the TV series Lassie episode "Lure of the Wild" as Jim Dixson, a retired forest ranger who tames a local coyote. He appeared in a 1969 episode of Adam-12 as the lieutenant in charge of the helicopter division, in a 1976 episode of Gibbsville and in 1978 as Captain Gordon Trigg, captain of the Washington State ferry MV Klickitat, in NBC's two-hour Emergency! episode "The Most Deadly Passage". In 1985, he appeared as Judge Kemp on the comedy series Night Court.
He became a semi-regular on the NBC series I Spy as the field boss of agents Robinson and Scott. Chris Nyby, director of The Thing, was often director of these episodes. Tobey continued to work in features and television through the 1970s and 1980s, appearing in such movies as Billy Jack, Walking Tall, and Airplane!. He also appeared in an episode of the Rockford Files in an episode called ' There's one in every port " as a ships captain.
In 1964, he began a long run on Broadway opposite Sammy Davis, Jr. in the musical version of Clifford Odets' play Golden Boy. His other Broadway credits include As You Like It, Sunny River, Janie, Sons and Soldiers, A New Life, Suds in Your Eye, The Cherry Orchard, and Truckline Cafe.
In his retirement years, he frequently received acting jobs from people who had grown up on his 50s sci-fi films, particularly Joe Dante, who considered Tobey a good-luck charm. Two appearances on the sit-com Night Court came the same way, through fans of his work. Along with other character actors who had been in 1950s sci-fi and horror movies (John Agar, Robert O. Cornthwaite, Gloria Talbott, etc.), Tobey starred in a spoof originally titled Attack Of The B Movie Monster. In 2005, Anthem Pictures released the completed feature version on DVD under the new title, The Naked Monster. Tobey's scenes were actually shot in 1985, but this posthumously became his final released film credit. Tobey made a memorable appearance in the 1994 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Shadowplay" as Rurigan, an alien who recreated his dead friends as holograms, and frequent appearances on L.A. Law as Judge Kent Watson.
Tobey died of natural causes in 2002 in Rancho Mirage, California at age 85.
- Mark of the Vampire (1935) - (uncredited)
- The Man of the Ferry (short, 1943)
- Dangerous Venture (1947) - Red
- This Time for Keeps (1948) - Redheaded Soldier at Pool (uncredited)
- Beyond Glory (1948) - Bit Role (uncredited)
- He Walked by Night (1948) - Detective Questioning Pete (uncredited)
- The Stratton Story (1949) - Detroit Player (uncredited)
- Illegal Entry (1949) - Dave (uncredited)
- The Great Sinner (1949) - Cabbie (uncredited)
- I Was a Male War Bride (1949) - Red - Seaman (uncredited)
- The Stratton Story (1949)
- Task Force (1949) - Capt. Ken Willliamson (uncredited)
- The Doctor and the Girl (1949) - Surgeon at Bellevue (uncredited)
- Free for All (1949) - Pilot
- Twelve O'Clock High (1949) - Sgt. Keller - Guard at Gate (uncredited)
- The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) - Police Photographer (uncredited)
- When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950) - Lt. K. Geiger (uncredited)
- One Way Street (1950) - Cop at Second Accident (uncredited)
- Love That Brute (1950) - Henchman #1 in Cigar Store (uncredited)
- The Gunfighter (1950) - Swede (uncredited)
- My Friend Irma Goes West (1950) - Pilot
- Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) - Det. Fowler
- Right Cross (1950) - Ken, the Third Reporter
- Three Secrets (1950) - Officer (uncredited)
- The Flying Missile (1950) - Crewman Pete McEvoy
- The Company She Keeps (1951) - Rex Fisher (uncredited)
- Up Front (1951) - Cooper (uncredited)
- Rawhide (1951) - Lt. Wingate (uncredited)
- The Thing from Another World (1951) - Captain Patrick Hendry
- Angel Face (1952) - Bill Crompton
- The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) - Col. Jack Evans
- Fighter Attack (1953) - George
- The Bigamist (1953) - Tom Morgan, Defense Attorney
- Ring of Fear (1954) - Shreveport
- Down Three Dark Streets (1954) - FBI Agent Zack Stewart
- The Steel Cage (1954) - Steinberg, Convict Painter (segment "The Face")
- Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) - Colonel Jim Bowie
- Rage at Dawn (1955) - Monk Claxton
- It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) - Cmdr. Pete Mathews
- Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956) - Jocko
- The Steel Jungle (1956) - Dr. Lewy
- The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956) - Lt. Hank Mahoney (uncredited)
- The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) - Anthony Murphy
- The Search For Bridey Murphy (1956) - Rex Simmons
- The Wings of Eagles (1957) - Capt. Herbert Allen Hazard
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) - Bat Masterson
- The Vampire (1957) - Sheriff Buck Donnelly
- Jet Pilot (1957) - Sergeant (uncredited)
- Cry Terror! (1958) - Agent Frank Cole
- Seven Ways from Sundown (1960) - Texas Ranger Lieutenant Herly
- X-15 (1961) - Col. Craig Brewster
- Stark Fear (1962) - Cliff Kane
- 40 Guns to Apache Pass (1966) - Corporal Bodine
- A Man Called Adam (1966) - Club Owner
- A Time for Killing (1967) - Sgt. Cleehan
- Marlowe (1969) - Sgt. Fred Beifus
- Billy Jack (1971) - Deputy Mike
- Terror in the Sky (1971) - Capt. Wilson
- Ben (1972) - Engineer
- The Candidate (1972) - Floyd J. Starkey
- Rage (1972) - Col. Alan A. Nickerson
- Walking Tall (1973) - Augie McCullah
- Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974) - Sheriff Carl Donahue
- Homebodies (1974) - Construction Boss
- The Missiles of October (1974) - Adm. George W. Anderson Jr., Chief of Naval Operations
- The Wild McCullochs (1975) - Larry Carpenter
- W.C. Fields and Me (1976) - Parker
- Baby Blue Marine (1976) - Buick Driver
- Gus (1976) - Asst. Warden
- MacArthur (1977) - Admiral Halsey
- Goodbye, Franklin High (1978) - Police Captain
- Hero at Large (1980) - Firechief
- Airplane! (1980) - Air Controller Neubauer
- The Howling (1981) - Older Cop
- Strange Invaders (1983) - Arthur Newman
- Gremlins (1984) - Mobil Gas Station Attendant (uncredited)
- The Lost Empire (1984) - Capt. Hendry
- Innerspace (1987) - Man in Restroom
- Big Top Pee-wee (1988) - Sheriff
- Freeway (1988) - Monsignor Kavanaugh
- Ghost Writer (1989) - Cop #2
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) - Projectionist
- Desire and Hell at Sunset Motel (1991) - Capt. Holiday
- Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992) - Smitty
- Single White Female (1992) - Desk Clerk
- Body Shot (1994) - Arthur Lassen
- Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) - Hologram-Priest (uncredited)
- The Naked Monster (2005) - Col. Patrick Hendry (Last appearance)
- "Kenneth Tobey Probably Has Reddest Hair in the World". The Paris News. Texas, Paris. July 31, 1951. p. 6. Retrieved June 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Berkeley Product Gets Dramatic Lead". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. August 18, 1940. p. 25. Retrieved June 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- ""Trojan Horse", Lawman, December 31, 1961". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
- "(Kenneth Tobey search)". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 28 June 2016.