Lonny Chapman

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Lonny Chapman
Lonny Chapman in One Step Beyond.jpg
Lon Leonard Chapman

(1920-10-01)October 1, 1920
DiedOctober 12, 2007(2007-10-12) (aged 87)
Alma materJoplin High School
Joplin Junior College
University of Oklahoma
OccupationActor, playwright
Years active1951–2001
Spouse(s)Erma Dean (1944–2007, his death)
ChildrenWyley Dean

Lon Leonard "Lonny" Chapman (October 1, 1920 – October 12, 2007) was an American actor best known for his numerous guest star appearances on television drama series.

Early years[edit]

The son of Elmer and Eunice Chapman,[2] Chapman was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but lived thereafter in Joplin, Missouri. He graduated from Joplin High School and, in 1940, from Joplin Junior College. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific during World War II. After the war, Chapman graduated from the University of Oklahoma at Norman. Then in 1947 he hitchhiked with Dennis Weaver, his best friend at the university, to New York City, where he landed the role of Turk in Come Back, Little Sheba.[3]


Chapman's first role on television was in 1951 on the series Starlight Theatre, playing the part of an arrogant high-school football player in an episode titled "Miss Bruell".[4] Throughout the remainder of the 1950s, he continued to be cast in other series and gain experience in supporting roles. In 1958 he portrayed detective Jeff Prior in the NBC series The Investigator.[5]:509 Seven years later, he played another detective, Frank Malloy, in the CBS series For the People.[5]

Some of the other series in which Chapman appeared in supporting roles or as a guest star include Gunsmoke, Harbourmaster, The Rifleman, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Everglades, Decoy, Dundee and the Culhane, Storefront Lawyers, Quincy, M.E., The A-Team, The Virginian, Matlock, NYPD Blue, and Murder, She Wrote. In 1964 he also performed on Perry Mason, portraying a murderer, Jack Talley, in "The Case of the Tandem Target". He appeared as well in the 1966 episode "Lone Woman" of The Road West. Between 1972 and 1975, he guest-starred too in three episodes of NBC's McCloud, which starred his friend Dennis Weaver, whom Chapman had originally urged to go into show business. In the late 1970s, he appeared in the episode "The Waterhole" on The Oregon Trail (1977), the episode "Now You see Her..." on The Eddie Capra Mysteries (1978), and as the character L. Patrick Gray in the miniseries Blind Ambition (1979).[6]


Chapman played "Ernie the plumber" in the 1954 movie Young at Heart, starring Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. He appeared in East of Eden (1955), Baby Doll (1956), and The Birds (1963).[6] His other film roles included appearances in A Covenant with Death (1967), Hour of the Gun (1967), The Stalking Moon (1968), Take the Money and Run (1969), The Reivers (1969), I Walk the Line (1970), Welcome Home, Soldier Boys (1971), The Cowboys (1972), Run, Cougar, Run (1972), Where the Red Fern Grows (1974), The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), Moving Violation (1976), The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978), Norma Rae (1979), Hanging by a Thread (1979), When Time Ran Out (1980), Running Scared (1980), Amy (1981), The Border (1982), Cave-In! (1983), 52 Pick-Up (1986), Reindeer Games (2000), and The Hunted (2001).


During the 1960s Chapman was involved with the Cecilwood Summerstock Theater in Fishkill, New York. In 1972, Chapman founded the Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles and was named artistic director, a title he held until his death. Under his direction, the nonprofit 99-seat theater staged more than 350 productions and at least 45 premieres of original works. He was also a playwright; his works The Buffalo Skinner and Cry of the Raindrop were both produced Off-Broadway.


In the fall of 2005, Chapman was named "Outstanding Alumnus" at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.[7]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1944, Chapman married the former Erma Dean Gibson of Joplin, Missouri. The couple remained married for 63 years and had two children: a daughter, Linda Dean, and a son, Wyley.[2][1] On October 12, 2007, at the age of 87, Chapman died of complications from heart disease at a care facility in North Hollywood. He was survived by his wife Erma and their son.[8] His ashes were sprinkled into the Pacific Ocean.


Year Title Role Notes
1954 Young at Heart Ernie Nichols
1955 East of Eden Roy Turner - Automobile Mechanic Uncredited
1956 Baby Doll Rock
1963 The Birds Deke Carter - Diner Owner
1967 A Covenant with Death Musgrave
1967 Hour of the Gun Turkey Creek Johnson
1968 The Stalking Moon Purdue
1969 Take the Money and Run Jake - Convict
1969 The Reivers Maury McCaslin
1970 I Walk the Line Bascomb
1971 Welcome Home, Soldier Boys Danny's Father
1972 The Cowboys Homer's Father
1972 Run, Cougar, Run Harry Walker
1973 Running Wild Senator Frank Coombs
1973 Cotter
1974 Where the Red Fern Grows Sheriff
1974 Hurricane Pappy
1974 Earthquake L.A.P.D. Captain Uncredited
1976 The Witch Who Came from the Sea Long John
1976 Moving Violation Sheriff Rankin
1978 The Bad News Bears Go to Japan Louis the Gambler
1979 Norma Rae Gardner
1979 Hanging by a Thread Charles Minton
1980 When Time Ran Out Kelly
1980 Running Scared Pa Beecher
1981 Amy Virgil Goodloe
1982 The Border Andy
1983 Cave-In! Walt Charles
1986 52 Pick-Up Jim O'Boyle
1997 Nightwatch Old Watchman
2000 Reindeer Games Old Timer
2001 The Hunted Zander (final film role)


  1. ^ a b Notice of death of Lonny Chapman, latimes.com, October 20, 2007; accessed May 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Lonny Chapman, Joplin Actor, Gets New Role on Television". Joplin Globe. Missouri, Joplin. September 23, 1951. p. 2. Retrieved April 7, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (2007). "Lonny Chapman, 87; theater company's artistic director." Obituary, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  4. ^ "Lonny Chapman", Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  6. ^ a b Lonny Chapman on IMDb
  7. ^ "Outstanding Alum Award". Missouri Southern State University. Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  8. ^ Simonson, Robert (2007). "Lonny Chapman, Broadway Actor and Theatre Leader, Dies at 87," Playbill, October 26, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2017.

External links[edit]