Peter Whitney

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Peter Whitney
Born (1916-05-24)May 24, 1916
Long Branch, New Jersey, U.S.
Died March 30, 1972(1972-03-30) (aged 55)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Years active 1941 - 1972
Spouse(s) Adrienne Whitney (3 children)
Barbara Engle (2 children)

Peter Whitney (May 24, 1916 – March 30, 1972) was an American actor in film and television. He was born Peter King Engle[1] in Long Branch, New Jersey. Tall and corpulent, he played brutish villains in many Hollywood films in the 1940s and 1950s.


Whitney was often a supporting character actor credited at least in the top ten actors appearing in several Hollywood classic feature films: Destination Tokyo (1943), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), Mr. Skeffington (1944), Murder, He Says (1945) [where he played a dual role], The Big Heat (1953), In the Heat of the Night (1967), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) and others before becoming well known for his work in television.

From the late 1950s, Whitney played character roles in many television series, including nine appearances on ABC's The Rifleman. One of his The Rifleman roles was in "Mail Order Groom" (1960), in which he portrays John Jupiter, a man of great physical strength who must exert patience while he is harassed by two townsmen, played by John Anderson and Sandy Kenyon, who had quarreled with Whitney's intended spinster bride, Isabel Dent, played by Alice Backes (1923–2007).[2]

In the 1958-1959 season, Whitney had a co-starring role as Buck Sinclair, a former sergeant of the Union Army, in all thirty-nine episodes of the ABC western series, The Rough Riders.

Whitney was also a guest star on the ABC/Warner Brothers western series Colt .45. He played the part of Ralph in the 1958 episode "Mantrap", with Don "Red" Barry cast as Percival.[3] He played United States Secret Service agent Gunnerson in the episode "Savage Hills" on the ABC/WB series, Maverick. In 1960, in the episode "Surface of Truth" of another ABC/WB western series, Lawman, Whitney played Lucas Beyer, a crude white man who has lived for ten years with the Cheyenne Indians. Beyer accidentally kills his wife in a fit of rage and runs into Laramie, Wyoming, to escape the wrath of her pursuing brother. Marshal Dan Troop (John Russell) uses an old Indian "truth" method to try to determine what happened.[4]

In the 1960 season premiere, "The Longest Rope", of the ABC/WB western series Cheyenne, Whitney was cast as the cruel, corrupt and entrenched Sheriff Hugo Parma of the community of High Point, where series protagonist Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker) had lived for a time in his early teens. In the story line, Bodie returns for a sentimental visit to High Point, only to find himself a successful but reluctant write-in candidate for sheriff against Parma. Donald May and Merry Anders also guest starred in the episode as young adults from Bodie's past time in High Point.[5]

Whitney made three guest appearances on the CBS courtroom drama series Perry Mason. In 1961, he played Roger Gates in "The Case of the Pathetic Patient." In 1962, he played prison escapee Stefan 'Big Steve' Jahnchek in "The Case of the Stand-in Sister," and in 1965 he played Capt. Otto Varnum in "The Case of the Wrongful Writ."

Whitney also appeared on such series as The Public Defender, Gunsmoke,The Adventures of Superman, City Detective, Fury, My Friend Flicka ("A Case of Honor"), The Californians, Sheriff of Cochise, Behind Closed Doors, Northwest Passage, Tate, Tombstone Territory (episode "Apache Vendetta"), Johnny Ringo, Riverboat, Bourbon Street Beat, The Alaskans, Overland Trail (as Governor Sutcliff in episode "First Stage to Denver"), The Rebel, The Islanders, Adventures in Paradise, Straightaway, Wagon Train, The Untouchables, Bonanza, The Monkees, Petticoat Junction (as Jasper Tweedy, in the 1969 episode: "Sorry Doctor, I Ain't Taking No Shots"), The Beverly Hillbillies, Rawhide (episode "Incident of the Music Maker"), and Hawaii Five-O.He also appeared in an episode of the Daniel Boone TV series in 1964 as Caleb Calhoun.

Whitney played a French partisan fighter named Massine in the 1963 episode "Thunder from the Hill" of ABC's military drama, Combat!.

On December 30, 1965, Whitney was cast as Judge Roy Bean in the episode "A Picture of a Lady" on the syndicated television series, Death Valley Days, then hosted by Ronald W. Reagan. Francine York played Lily Langtry, with Paul Fix as Bean's friend, Doc Lathrop.[6]

His final role was as a grave robber in writer Rod Serling's Night Gallery.


Whitney died of a heart attack at the age of 55 in Santa Barbara, California.[1]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. (2 volume set). McFarland. p. 806. ISBN 9780786479924. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  2. ^ ""Mail Order Groom" on The Rifleman (January 12, 1960)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 3, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Colt .45". Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ ""Surface of Truth", Lawman, April 17, 1960". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Longest Rope". Internet Movie Data Base. September 26, 1960. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ ""A Picture of a Lady" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. December 30, 1965. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 

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