BBC News is reporting that William Schallert, a veteran TV and film actor with more than 350 credits to his name, has died. Schallert was 93.
Better known for his long, expressive face than by name, Schallert started his acting career in the Los Angeles theater scene. He then went on to gain national prominence in the early ’60s for roles in sitcoms like The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis and The Patty Duke Show, where he played kindly father Martin Lane. But while he’d occasionally settle into series roles—1977’s The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, 1986’s The New Gidget, 1991’s The Torkelsons—Schallert is probably best known for the single-episode TV appearances he made on an absolutely massive number of successful TV shows, across a nearly 70-year career.
Gunsmoke, The Carol Burnett Show, Bewitched, Star Trek—both the original series, where he appeared in the classic “The Trouble With Tribbles,” and later on Deep Space Nine—Magnum P.I., Murphy Brown, Roseanne, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, and literally hundreds more—Schallert’s resume is essentially a history of the last 60 years of TV. His characters ranged from kindly father figures to obstructive bureaucrats, and rarely stuck around for more than a single appearance. (On more than one occasion, including Get Smart and Little House On The Prairie, he’d appear on the same series in multiple different roles.)
Schallert also occasionally worked in film, including the Martin Short shrinking comedy Innerspace, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and In The Heat Of The Night. (Needless to say, he appeared in episodes of The Twilight Zone TV series and the Carroll O’Conner-starring In The Heat Of The Night TV adaptation, as well.) He also served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1979 and 1981, and was married for 66 years to actress Leah Waggner, from 1949, until her death in 2015.