Paul Birch (actor)

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Paul Birch
Birch in 1958
Paul Lowery Smith

(1912-01-13)January 13, 1912
DiedMay 24, 1969(1969-05-24) (aged 57)
Years active1945–1967
Spouse(s)Margaret Farish
Betsy Ross Smith
RelativesNed Luke (grandson)

Paul Birch (born Paul Lowery Smith; January 13, 1912 – May 24, 1969) was an American actor. He was a film star of 39 movies, 50 stage dramas, and numerous television series, including the Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951).

Early life[edit]

Birch was born Paul Lowery Smith in Atmore, Alabama. He attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute.[1]


Birch as President Grant with Lee Aaker as Rusty and Rin-Tin-Tin, 1956


In the late 1950s, Birch starred, along with William Campbell, in the syndicated Canadian series Cannonball (1958), a half-hour drama/adventure show about truck drivers. He also was a regular in The Court of Last Resort on NBC in 1957-1958.[1]

In the mid 1950s he appeared in magazine and TV ads as the first widely publicized "Cowboy" Marlboro Man.[2]

In 1959, Birch was cast as Sergeant Major Carmody, with Doug McClure as Corporal Jenkins, in the episode "The Face of Courage" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. In the story line, amid the threat of Sioux attack, Carmody commanders the vessel, the Enterprise, while it is delivering military cargo to an Army outpost on the Missouri River. Joanna Moore appears in the episode as Kitty McGuire.[3]

He appeared as President Grant in the 1960 episode "Mr. Simpson" of ABC's Black Saddle western series starring Peter Breck as Clay Culhane, a gunfighter-turned-lawyer. He also portrayed President Grant in two episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

He also had a recurring role as Captain Carpenter, the boss of Lt. Phillip Gerard (Barry Morse) in the first two seasons of ABC's adventure/drama series The Fugitive, starring David Janssen.


Birch appeared on Broadway in a production of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1954-1955).[4] He portrayed both Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee in several historical plays.

He was among the original members of the Pasadena Playhouse, the first actor to be one of that group's repertory players.[2]


Birch appeared as the police captain with the megaphone in Rebel Without A Cause (1955), and was one of the first to be "disintegrated" in the original movie War of the Worlds (1953).

He starred in some low-budget science-fiction films in the 1950s, including The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), Not of This Earth (1957), and the cult classic Queen of Outer Space (1958). Birch also had small roles in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1967).


While he acted at the Pasadena Playhouse, he also was "employed full-time as an instructor and director working with students in the Playhouse College of Theatre Arts."[2]

Personal life[edit]

Birch was married twice and was survived by his second wife, the former Betsy Ross Smith (another source gives her name as Barbara)[2] and their three children, Don, Jennifer, and Michael. From his first marriage to Margaret Farish, he had a daughter named Cindy, whose son is actor Ned Luke (born 1958).[5]


Birch died of cancer at age 57 on May 24, 1969, at St. George's in Grenada. Survived by his widow and three children, he is buried in a cemetery outside St. George's.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Aaker, Everett (2006). Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6409-8. Pp. 56-58.
  2. ^ a b c d Duncan, Ray (November 15, 1964). "Pasadena Playhouse Picks First Repertory Player". California, Pasadena. Independent Star-News. p. 61. Retrieved January 21, 2016 – via open access
  3. ^ ""The Face of Courage", December 27, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  4. ^ "Paul Birch". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Ned Luke: Trivia". Retrieved November 13, 2014.

External links[edit]