Tod Griffin

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Tod Griffin
Born Arthur Griffin
(1919-01-15)January 15, 1919
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, USA
Died April 23, 2002(2002-04-23) (aged 83)
Bishop, Inyo County, California
Occupation Television & film actor
Real estate agent
Spouse(s) Grace Griffin

Tod Griffin, born as Arthur Griffin (January 15, 1919 – April 23, 2002),[1] was an American actor of stage, film, and television, originally from Birmingham, Alabama.

Early years[edit]

Griffin's parents were descended from a long line of Mississippi farmers, but the senior Griffin moved to Birmingham to take a job with U.S. Steel. Tod Griffin was an only child though his mother had been the youngest of thirteen children, and his father had six older siblings. He completed high school and attended college, having joined the United States Air National Guard prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His unit was quickly federalized after December 7, 1941.[2]

During World War II, Griffin flew forty bombing missions[3] and attempted after the conflict to become an airline pilot but was rejected because at twenty-six he was deemed three years too old to become a beginning pilot. For two years under the GI Bill of Rights, Griffin attended the Theater School of Dramatic Arts in Carnegie Hall in New York City. His wife, Grace, initially a secretary but usually an office manager, supported them during his lean years in acting.[2] His first paying job as an actor was with the summer stock company, the Red Barn Theater of Westborough in Worcester County, Massachusetts.[3] He performed in eight or nine plays, a different one each week.[2] He subsequently appeared in several films and guest starred on various television series between 1952 and 1961.[4] In 1955, the Griffins moved from cold Brooklyn, New York, to sunny Hollywood, California, and occupied an apartment that had once been half of a house occupied by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Mary Pickford.[2]

Television debut[edit]

In 1952, Griffin made his television debut as George Washington in "The Plot to Kidnap General Washington" on NBC's Hallmark Hall of Fame.[5] He made two other Hallmark appearances too, in "Dinner for the General" (1953) and as Patrick Henry in "The Farmer from Monticello", referring to Thomas Jefferson, who lived at the estate Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.[5]

From June 28 to August 9, 1953, Griffin starred as Commander Bill Hollister in the short-lived NBC science fiction series, Operation Neptune, aired live and aimed at a juvenile audience. The program bore the same name as one of the military maneuvers in D-Day on June 6, 1944. Operation Neptune was a summer replacement for The Red Skelton Show. Griffin recalled that the series was created at a time "when they were just trying to put anything they could on the screen, just to get TV going." Griffin likened Operation Neptune to an early version of Batman on a shoestring budget and with primitive technology or to Captain Video underwater.[2]

In 1956, Griffin starred in the episode "In the Eye of the Hurricane" of the syndicated TV Reader's Digest.[3] He also played the boyfriend Kerry Shaw in "The Candy Caldwell Story" of CBS's fantasy drama, The Millionaire, with Peggie Castle in the title guest-starring role.[2] In 1957, he played Norman Pangburn, Jr., in the episode "Pangburn's Pride" of the syndicated Captain David Grief, starring Maxwell Reed and based on Jack London stories.[3]

Later roles[edit]

The well-built and handsome Griffin, who had a voice remarkably similar to that of Robert Mitchum, was a natural fit for westerns. Griffin's film roles, all considered unsuccessful, included that of a rancher in a walk-in part on the film, In the Bottom of the Bottle[2] and a ranger in The Desperadoes Are in Town (both 1956). In 1958, he co-starred in director Richard E. Cunha's film She Demons, which Griffin described as a "terrible movie" with an impossible plot. His agent urged him to accept the part of Fred Maklin merely to gain further exposure on film. The bizarre 76-minute picture involves a mad scientist, Nazis, a hurricane, dancing native girls, monsters, and island castaways. Griffin said that a producer told him that he did as well as one could in the film because the terrible script guaranteed failure.[2] The year before, Griffin appeared in a similar failed film, She Devil.[2]

Griffin guest starred in 1958 as Charles Biddle, the boyfriend of the Barbara Eden character, in the episode "Loco Leaves Home" of another syndicated television series, How to Marry a Millionaire,[2] a romantic comedy also starring with Lori Nelson, Merry Anders, and Joseph Kearns. In 1958, Griffin guest starred in two episodes each of the modern western series, State Trooper, syndicated and starring Rod Cameron: as Bill Larson in "Still Water Runs Red" and as John Reinhardt in "Firebug". He also appeared twice that year on ABC's Maverick as Jack Wade in "Day of Reckoning" and as Sheriff Jesse Carson in "Holiday at Hollow Rock",[3] opposite James Garner in both episodes.

In 1958, Griffin was cast as Sheriff Frank Day on the ABC/Warner Brothers series Cheyenne in the episode "The Empty Gun", which also stars John Russell, Audrey Totter, and Sean Garrison. In 1959–1960, he appeared twice on another ABC/WB western, Bronco, starring Ty Hardin: as Sheriff Garth Nelson in "The Silent Witness" and as Chip Garnes in "Volunteers from Aberdeen". In 1960, he appeared as Tom Corey in "The Epidemic" of CBS's Lassie. He guest starred that same year as Tinney in "Lady with a Mission" of NBC's western, The Deputy, starring Henry Fonda and Allen Case. He appeared too as Lt. Col. Vern Driscoll in "Verdict in Orbit" of CBS's science fiction series, Men into Space.[3]

He appeared twice in Rory Calhoun's CBS western series, The Texan, in the 1959–1960 episodes, "Trouble on the Trail" and "Badman".[6] He also was a guest star on the Desilu owned Official Detective episode "Chainstore Hold-Ups" as Clark (1958). [7]

In 1958 and 1961, he appeared twice on Clint Walker's ABC western series, Cheyenne, as Sheriff Frank Day in "The Empty Gun" and as Rafe Donovan in "The Greater Glory". His last acting appearance, at the age of forty-two, was released on May 31, 1961: the role of Joe Sanger in "They Met in Honolulu" in Rod Cameron's third series, COronado 9, a detective program set near San Diego, California.[3]

Real estate[edit]

Griffin then entered the field of industrial real estate, from which he retired after twenty-two years in 1983. In retirement, he and Grace (January 28, 1922 – October 20, 1997), formerly of Florida,[1] resided in Bishop in Inyo County in eastern California.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tom Weaver, Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers. Google Books. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Tod Griffin". imdb. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Biography for Tod Griffin". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Hallmark Hall of Fame". tv.com. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  6. ^ "The Texan". Classic Television Archive. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ CTVA "The Classic TV Archive"