Russ Conway

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Russell Clarence Zink,
known as Russ Conway​

(Canadian-American character actor of film and television)


Born April 25, 1913​
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Died January 12, 2009 (aged 95)​
Laguna Hills, California, USA​
Spouse Muriel Morrison (married 1946-2006, her death)

Two children
Alma mater:
University of California, Los Angeles

Russ Conway (April 25, 1913 – January 12, 2009) was a Canadian-American character actor who appeared on film and television between 1947 and 1975. Conway was best known for his role as the father in the serial, "The Hardy Boys." on the ABC Mickey Mouse Club series. He was the younger brother of Canadian-born actor Donald Woods.​

Background

Born Russell Clarence Zink in Brandon in the province of Manitoba, Conway earned a bachelor's degree in 1937 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Years later, he procured a master's degree in theatre arts from UCLA as well as teaching credentials.[1]

During World War II, he served in the United States Army, attached to the Special Services entertainment unit. For several months, he was entertainment director at the since defunct Fort Ord on Monterey Bay in California before he was sent to the Philippines and then Japan. He worked as a producer and announcer for Armed Forces Radio.[1]

Early roles

At first, Conway had uncredited roles in some two dozen motion pictures from 1947 to 1953, beginning as a medic in Buck Privates Come Home. He played the role of Quintus Seabury in the film, Flamingo Road. He appeared in If I Was a Male War Bride, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass about frontier characters Martha Jane Cannary and the bandit Sam Bass (1851-1878), Twelve O'Clock High. Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation, and the 1952 film, The Outcasts of Poker Flat, based on a Bret Harte short story of the same name.[2]

Though most of his work after 1953 was on television, Conway also appeared in notable films. He was Elvis Presley's friend Ed Galt in Presley's 1956 screen debut Love Me Tender. He also played the police officer who discovered Joan Crawford's body on the beach at the end of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). He played the Reverend Bethany in the 1953 film, The War of the Worlds.[3]

Conway became known for his multiple television appearances, beginning with "Sheep Thieves", the first of four episodes between 1950 and 1954, of the classic western, The Lone Ranger. The other episodes featuring Conway are "Sinner by Proxy," "A Son by Adoption," and "The Bounty Hunter."[4] In 1951, Conway appeared on the detective series Boston Blackie. He then guest starred in three 1952-1953 episodes of Jack Webb's original Dragnet series on NBC. Later, he guest starred on Reed Hadley's second CBS series, The Public Defender.[2]​ ​

Western roles

​ Over the years, Conway guest-starred in many television westerns, including a forgotten 1953 episode "McCoy of Abilene," about the 1860s cattleman Joseph McCoy in Abilene and Dodge City, Kansas, a segment of The Hallmark Hall of Fame, then on NBC. Conway's co-stars on Hallmark were Frances Bavier, Marjorie Lord, Leo Penn, James Best, and George Nader as Joseph McCoy.[5]

He appeared in the syndicated westerns, Hopalong Cassidy and twice on the Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo series, The Cisco Kid, in the roles of an outlaw in "Cisco Meets the Gorilla" and as E. W. Akers in "The Ventriloquist." He portrayed a character named "Stirling" in the 1957 episode "Judith" of the syndicated The Gray Ghost, an American Civil War drama based on the life of Confederate cavalry officer John Singleton Mosby. He appeared in 1957 and 1958 on CBS's Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre in the episodes "No Man Living" and "The Accuser."[2]

In 1957, he guest starred as Jared Martin (also the name of a subsequent actor) in the episode "Show of Force" on CBS's Have Gun – Will Travel starring Richard Boone. He further appeared as the character Frank Russell in the episode "Girl in the Cab" of the syndicated Casey Jones, starring Alan Hale, Jr., in the title role of railroad engineer John Luther "Casey" Jones. Conway was cast in two 1958 segments, "Diamonds in the Rough" and "When the Cat's Away" of Rod Cameron's State Trooper modern western crime drama.[2]

Conway twice was cast in episodes of the NBC children's western series, Fury, as Red Cummings in "Joey Goes Hunting" (1955) and in one of the later segments entitled "A Present for Packy" (1960).[2]

Often placed in law-enforcement roles, Conway portrayed a sheriff in the 1958 episode "Rage for Vengeance" of ABC's Maverick series and as Marshal Short in the 1958 episode "Ghosts of Cimarron" of another ABC/Warner Brothers western, Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker.[2] He appeared in the 1959 episode "Act of Faith" of the NBC western series, The Californians, set in lawless San Francisco in the 1850s.​

He guest starred as Bart McCallin in the 1959 episode "McCallin's Daughter" on CBS's Trackdown series starring Robert Culp, and twice on its sequel, Wanted: Dead or Alive, with Steve McQueen. He appeared on two other CBS series, Rory Calhoun's The Texan and Earl Holliman's Hotel de Paree, set in a fictitious Colorado town. He guest starred as another unnamed marshal forced to turn against his political patron in the 1959 episode "The Giant Killer" of the ABC-Warner Brothers production, Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins. Conway appeared with Roscoe Ates on "Long Odds" of Dale Robertson's Tales of Wells Fargo, in "St. Louis Woman" of The Tall Man, and as Tyler in "Trail Drive" of the Laramie series, all on NBC.[2]

Between 1959 and 1962, Conway guest starred three times on the Eric Fleming/Clint Eastwood CBS series, Rawhide. in the episodes entitled "Incident of the Town in Terror" "The Incident of the Running Man," and "Deserter's Patrol." He guest starred on other westerns: Pat Conway's Tombstone Territory and Ty Hardin's Bronco, as well as Lawman and Frontier Justice.[2]

From 1961 to 1968, he appeared four times on NBC's Bonanza: as Dave Hart in "The Tax Collector," as attorney Jeremy Grant in "The Man Without Land", as Judge Horace Wheeler in "False Witness", and as Balenger in "The Passing of a King". Other NBC western roles were on Jeffrey Hunter's Temple Houston and Chuck Connors' acclaimed but short-lived Branded series.[2]

From 1963-1967, he appeared in four episodes of NBC's The Virginian: "Run Away Home", "Ryker" as Ed Hale, "The Dream of Stavros Karas" as Charley Cousins, and "Bitter Harvest" as Tom Hadley. He appeared twice on NBC's Daniel Boone series, including the role of Tom Mayberry in the 1966 episode entitled, "Seminole Territory". In 1963, he appeared in an episode of the short-lived ABC/WB western series, The Dakotas. In 1967, he was cast as the family patriarch, Albert Monroe, but only for the series premiere of ABC's short-lived The Monroes.[2]​ ​

Disney roles

​ Some of Conway's most memorable roles were on the Walt Disney anthology series. He appeared in fifteen of the nineteen episodes of The 'Mickey Mouse Club serial, The Hardy Boys. The next year, he starred in The Hardy Boys, in the episode "The Mystery of the Ghost Farm, as Fenton Hardy, the father of teenagers Frank and Joe Hardy, played respectively by Tim Considine, later on My Three Sons, and Tommy Kirk, later the Disney characters The Shaggy Dog and Merlin Jones.[2]

In 1959, Conway appeared as the father, Monty Morgan, on ABC's Disneyland series in the two-part episode, "Moochie of the Little League," with 10-year-old Kevin Corcoran (1949-2015) in the title role. Actor James Brown appeared in the miniseries too as Andy Clinton.[6] In 1960, he appeared in another two-part Disney episode starring Kevin Corcoran, "Moochie of Pop Warner Football."[7]

In September 1968, Conway starred as a rancher in the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color two-part episode, "Boomerang, Dog of Many Talents." His co-stars were Patricia Crowley, Darby Hinton, and Darren McGavin.[8]​ ​

Historical roles

Conway appeared in historical roles on CBS's You Are There, narrated by Walter Cronkite and aired between 1953 and 1955. The episodes included "The Boston Tea Party," "The Assassination of Julius Caesar," "The Resolve of Patrick Henry," and "Washington Crosses the Delaware," with Conway cast as General George Washington in the December 25, 1776, crossing of the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into Trenton, New Jersey.

In 1969, Conway played Maxy Parker, bewildered father of the rebellious 16-year-old George Leroy Parker (Michael Margotta), in the syndicated series, Death Valley Days, then hosted by Robert Taylor not long before Taylor's own death. Young Parker leaves home in search of riotous living, first in Salt Lake City, Utah. He takes the name Butch Cassidy from an older rustler acquaintance, Mike Cassidy (Tony Russel). The episode aired the same year as the popular Paul Newman and Robert Redford film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.[9]​ ​

Dramatic roles

​ His dramatic guest appearances included the role of 41-year-old Doug Parish in the 1954 episode "Climax" of the NBC crime drama, Mr. and Mrs. North. That same year, he appeared as Clemson in "The Horn That Blew Too Long" of Rod Cameron's first of three syndicated series, City Detective.

In 1955 and 1956, Conway appeared twice on NBC's anthology series, The Loretta Young Show, first as Joe Davis in "He Always Comes Home" and then as Eddie in "Hapless Holiday.

Other Conway roles were on four episodes of CBS's fantasy drama, The Millionaire aired between 1955 and 1958, but he was never the millionaire himself. He was Commander Loomis in the 1956 episode "A Day for a Stingray" of the ABC military drama Navy Log, formerly on CBS. He appeared twice on Ronald W. Reagan's General Electric Theater in the episodes "The Chess Game" and "Dropout" in 1956 and 1961, respectively. He guest starred in two other CBS crime dramas, The Lineup and Checkmate. played Detective Ben Cooper in the episode "Killer in Town" of Lee Marvin's M Squad series on NBC.[2]

Conway appeared in all four of the ABC-WB crime dramas: as Barney Harris in the episode "Girl in Trouble" of Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan as Cranston MacDonald on 77 Sunset Strip in the episode, "The Bouncing Chip," as Brockton Storr in "Ghost of a Chance" of Surfside 6, and three times on Hawaiian Eye in episodes entitled "Made in Japan", "Moon of Mindanao," and "The Sisters." He also starred three times on ABC's The Untouchables, a 1920s crime drama starring Robert Stack as federal agent Eliot Ness.​

Between 1958 and 1961, he appeared eight times on Lloyd Bridges' Sea Hunt, a first-run syndicated adventure series about a professional scuba diver. Conway guest starred in Edmond O'Brien's 1960 syndicated crime drama, Johnny Midnight. He appeared three times as Lieutenant Pete Kile on David Janssen's NBC series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, previously broadcast on CBS. He also starred as Sheriff Thornton in Janssen's later series, ABC's The Fugitive in the 1967 episode, "Passage to Helena". In 1971, Conway appeared as Mr. Hansen in the episode "Operation: Crystal Springs" of Janssen's third series, O'Hara, U.S. Treasury on CBS.[2]

Conway appeared as General Devon in six episode of CBS's 1959-1960 drama Men into Space. That same year, he guest starred on Mike Connors' short-lived CBS crime drama, Tightrope. He appeared in John Bromfield's syndicated U.S. Marshal, Charles Bronson's Man with a Camera on ABC, and Gary Lockwood's NBC military drama, The Lieutenant, having appeared as Colonel Curtis Morley in the 1964 episode "In the Highest Tradition".[2]

In 1961 and 1965, he appeared on two CBS dramas, The Aquanauts, starring Keith Larsen, and Slattery's People, featuring Richard Crenna as a dedicated state legislator. Conway was cast three times on the network's Perry Mason series starring Raymond Burr in a variety of roles, including an ex-convict and a Navy officer. He appeared as a judge in the 1969 episode, "The Law and Order Blues" (Part 1) of Carl Betz's ABC legal drama Judd, for the Defense.[2]

Later years

Into the 1970s, Conway appeared on Jack Webb's Adam-12 police drama and twice as Dr. Jay L. Milton in two episodes of ABC's The Mod Squad. He guest starred three times on CBS's Mannix starring Mike Connors and four times on the same network's Mission: Impossible, with Peter Graves. In 1972, he guest starred in "A Game of Chess" on ABC's The F.B.I., starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. In 1974, Conway appeared on William Conrad's Cannon in the episode entitled "Where's Jennifer?." His last screen appearance was in 1975 as an unnamed ship's captain in the 1975 episode "The Cruise Ship Murders" of the Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert CBS crime drama, Switch.[2]

Conway appeared in a few comedy programs too, including twice on CBS's The Jack Benny Program. including an episode starring Ginger Rogers. He also appeared once on ABC's Leave It to Beaver, NBC's Get Smart, and CBS's Mrs. G. Goes to College, starring Gertrude Berg, Petticoat Junction, he Beverly Hillbillies, and The Munsters.[2]​ ​

Death

For the last thirty-three years of his life, Conway made no further screen appearances. He died in his sleep at the age of ninety-five in Laguna Hills in Orange County, California.​

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Russ Conway obituary. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Russ Conway. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  3. Russ Conway: Final Farewells. Monster Kid Classic Horror Forum. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  4. The Lone Ranger News. tripod.com. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  5. Hallmark Hall of Fame: McCoy of Abilene. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  6. Disneyland: "Moochie of the Little League". IMDB. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  7. Disneyland: "Moochie of Pop Warner Football". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  8. Disneyland: "Boomerang, Dog of Many Talents". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on October 30, 2019.
  9. Drop Out on Death Valley Days. Internet Movie Database (April 25, 1969). Retrieved on October 30, 2019.

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