Peter Leeds

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Peter Leeds
Peter Leeds.png
Born (1917-05-30)May 30, 1917
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.
Died November 12, 1996(1996-11-12) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1941–1996
Spouse(s) Patricia Leeds (1962–1996)

Peter Leeds (May 30, 1917 – November 12, 1996) was an American actor, who appeared on television more than 8,000 times[1] and also had many film, Broadway, and radio credits. The majority of his work took place in the 1950s and 1960s. Working with many well-known comedians, he became popular as a straight man to their antics.[2]

Beyond situation comedies, Peter Leeds was also a dramatic actor, a Broadway performer, and a regular on many variety shows. He made three guest appearances on Perry Mason.

Peter Leeds was also a popular voice-over artist, being heard on over 3,000 radio shows.

Early life[edit]

A native of Bayonne, New Jersey, Leeds received his training at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He made his film debut with a bit part in Public Enemies (1941). He received a scholarship from the John Marshall Law School, which he attended for one year. He also attended The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City. Leeds was noticed by the Group Theater of New York, through which he received a scholarship and graduated.


Leeds worked with hundreds of well-known actors, including Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson. He appeared four times with David Janssen in the crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Leeds was cast as George Colton in nine episodes of the 1960s CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys,[3]:826 starring Harry Morgan and Cara Williams. He guest-starred on an episode of the 1962-1963 ABC drama series, Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly.

Leeds was known for his association with Stan Freberg and played his foil in several song parodies. He played several roles on his classic comedy album Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, and appeared as a regular on the short-lived radio series The Stan Freberg Show in 1957.

Leeds had a recurring role as gambler/saloon owner Tenner Smith in the 1957-1959 CBS television series, Trackdown starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman, with Ellen Corby in a secondary role as newspaper publisher Henrietta Porter.[4]

Leeds played federal agent LaMarr Kane[3] in "The Scarface Mob", the pilot for ABC's The Untouchables TV series (starring Robert Stack), a role taken over in the actual series by Chuck Hicks. He also was a member of the casts of the 1958 version of The Betty White Show[3]:94 and The Buster Keaton Show.[3]:148

USO tours[edit]

Leeds accompanied Bob Hope on 14 international USO (United Service Organizations) tours.[5] Leeds joined Bob Hope in 1954 for a television special and continued working with Hope on specials and tours from 1954 until 1991.[2]

Voice work[edit]

Leeds also did voices for animated television and film, including The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, Hong Kong Phooey, The New Yogi Bear Show, The Dukes, Challenge of the GoBots, CBS Storybreak and The Jetsons.


Leeds appeared on Broadway in Sugar Babies along with Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Leeds died of cancer at the age of 79, on November 12, 1996 in Los Angeles, California.[1] Leeds was survived by his wife of 34 years, Pat Leeds, his son Dr. Michael Leeds, and his granddaughter Samantha Leeds RN, MPH.[7]

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists[edit]

During the 1970s, Leeds spent five years as the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).[1] He later served on the actors' union's national and local Board of Directors. In 1992, AFTRA repaid his many years of service with its highest honor, the Gold Card. Leeds later served on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.[7]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Straight man actor, Peter Leeds, dies". The Spokesman-Review. Washington, Spokane. Los Angeles Times. November 22, 1996. p. A2. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b IMDb Peter Leeds Bio
  3. ^ a b c d Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 1132.
  4. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 104
  5. ^ "Noted Actor Will Speak To Red Cross". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. May 21, 1966. p. 15. Retrieved July 9, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ "Sugar Babies". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Turner Classic Movies