First it was actress Patty Duke, who died in late March at age 69. Now we must say good-bye as well to William Schallert, who played Duke’s father in the 1963-1966 ABC-TV series, The Patty Duke Show. He passed away on Sunday at 93 years of age.
The Los Angeles-born character actor filled a variety of other TV sitcom roles during his more than 60-year career (including on Get Smart, The Nancy Walker Show, and The New Gidget). But Schallert’s extensive résumé is packed as well with appearances on such crime dramas as Perry Mason, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaii Five-O, The Mod Squad, Banacek, Ironside, Ellery Queen, Switch, Matlock, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and Simon & Simon.
The Spy Command recalls that “His roles included Frank Harper, one of the substitute partners for James West (Robert Conrad) in the fourth season of The Wild Wild West when Ross Martin was recovering from a 1968 heart attack. Harper’s appearance took place during the show’s only two-part story, ‘The Night of the Winged Terror.’ Harper, like Martin’s Artemus Gordon, was a master of disguise. Schallert had appeared earlier in the series in other parts.” In addition, this versatile actor played Nilz Baris, the United Federation of Planets’ under-secretary in charge of agricultural affairs, on the famous 1967 Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Twenty-six years later he turned up in a different role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Schallert’s was one of the most ubiquitous faces on the small screen during my growing-up years. Although, as The New York Times observes, he was “never a leading man,” he was certainly “a high-caliber embodiment of the working actor.” Schallert’s calm, mature presence will certainly be missed.
READ MORE: “The Late, Great William Schallert,” by Terence Towles Canote (A Shroud of Thoughts).