Peter Whitney (born Peter King Engle; May 24, 1916 – March 30, 1972) was an American actor in film and television. Tall and heavyset, he played brutish villains in many Hollywood films in the 1940s and 1950s.
Whitney was born in Long Branch, New Jersey,[citation needed ] but grew up in California. His schools included the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. He studied drama at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Whitney was often a supporting character actor credited at least in the top ten actors appearing in several Hollywood classic feature films,[citation needed ] such as Destination Tokyo (1943), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), Mr. Skeffington (1944), Murder, He Says (1945) (in which 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.
In the 1958–1959 season, Whitney had a co-starring role as Buck Sinclair, a former sergeant of the Union Army, in all 39 episodes of the ABC western series The Rough Riders. He also guest-starred on the ABC/Warner Brothers western series Colt .45. He performed the part of Ralph in the 1958 episode "Mantrap".[citation needed ] He played United States Secret Service agent Gunnerson in the episode "Savage Hills," and Brock in "Dodge City or Bust" 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.[citation needed ]
Whitney made three guest appearances on the CBS courtroom drama series Perry Mason: in 1961 he performed as the character Roger Gates in "The Case of the Pathetic Patient"; in 1962, as prison escapee Stefan "Big Steve" Jahnchek in "The Case of the Stand-in Sister"; and in 1965, as Captain Otto Varnum in "The Case of the Wrongful Writ."
Whitney also appeared on such series as The Public Defender, Gunsmoke, 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, The Virginian (The Runaway – 1969), 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 Rifleman, The Monkees, Petticoat Junction (as Jasper Tweedy, in the 1969 episode: "Sorry Doctor, I Ain't Taking No Shots"), Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Rawhide (episode "Incident of the Music Maker"), Peter Gunn (as Josiah in the episode “The Best Laid Plans“, and Hawaii Five-O. In addition, Whitney played a French partisan fighter named Massine in the 1963 episode "Thunder from the Hill" of ABC's military drama Combat!, as well as the character Caleb Calhoun in a 1964 episode of the Daniel Boone series. Then, in 1965, Whitney was cast as Judge Roy Bean in the episode "A Picture of a Lady" on the syndicated television series Death Valley Days.
He also did well as a comedy actor, making four appearances on "The Beverly Hillbillies" as the oafish Lafayette "Lafe" Crick.
Peter Whitney's final role on television was that of a grave robber in writer Rod Serling's series Night Gallery, in a 1972 episode segment titled "Deliveries in the Rear".[citation needed ]
Whitney died of a heart attack at the age of 55 in Santa Barbara, California. He was buried at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California.
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