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Monday, March 11, 2013
When I inherited this column a month ago, there were several messages in the voice mail from the same gentleman. I wasn’t sure what to think of them exactly, and they were deleted before I could give it much thought. Then, on each Monday morning since, I’ve heard the same messages, recorded early in the morning, before 8 a.m., and they all go something like this:
Q: Hello! My question for What’s On Your Mind is this: Can you tell me something about actor Roy Stuart, who played Cpl. Boyle on “Gomer Pyle, USMC”? Also, whatever happened to Randolph Roberts, who played Chuck Cunningham on “Happy Days?”
A: Answering these questions isn’t too tough for anyone with a computer, so I assumed this polite gentleman probably was not online. But it made me curious to know what it is about character actors on old sitcoms that fascinated Campbell, so I called him up to find out.
Campbell, 59, lives at Valley Retirement Home in Roanoke. He’s retired from Elizabeth Arden, where he worked putting perfume bottles in boxes for years. He doesn’t have a computer, so I figured I could find his answers for him. Campbell told me that he has box sets of both series on DVD, and he also watches “Happy Days” on the Hallmark Channel.
His interest in Roy Stuart? “I’d seen him in a lot of commercials besides the show, and I wondered if he was still living. I just thought he was a good actor,” said Campbell. As for Randolph Roberts, who actually was one of two actors to play Chuck on “Happy Days,” Campbell wonders about him each time he appears in the show, and just wants to know what’s become of him. Campbell said that Roberts’ character was a basketball player on the show, and went off to college, never to be heard from again.
According to variety.com, Roy Stuart did have a long career in Hollywood. In addition to playing the sensible Corporal Boyle, who worked with Sergeant Carter, Gomer’s tough but lovable drill sergeant, Stuart appeared in “Bewitched,” “Golden Girls,” “Santa Barbara,” “Mama’s Family” and “General Hospital,” just to name a few. He also co-starred with Chita Rivera in the movie “Can-Can.” Sadly, he died on Christmas Day 2005 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. He left behind a longtime companion, Claude Herbert.
Randolph Roberts played Richie Cunningham’s older brother on season 2 of “Happy Days” in 1974-75. But according to IMDb, the Internet movie database, Roberts stayed busy, with small parts on “A-Team” and the movie “Logan’s Run.” As recently as last year, he still was working in Hollywood.
I hope this answers your questions, Mr. Campbell, and I hope that people like you give some comfort to all of those character actors who play bit parts. Because they’ll never know when a small part in a sitcom might be relished by a person somewhere in the future, who loves his shows enough to wonder about the guys whose names appear well below the title in the credits.
Have a question? An answer? Call “What’s on Your Mind?” at 777-6476 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to provide your full name, its proper spelling and your hometown.
Look for Tom Landon’s column on Mondays.
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