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Harvey Stephens, 85; Character Actor on Stage and in Films

December 25, 1986

Harvey Stephens, a sagacious character actor with extensive credits both on stage and in films, died Monday at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills.

He was 85 and had retired to Orange County more than 20 years ago.

One of only two performers in the Broadway cast of "South Pacific" who didn't sing (he was Cmdr. Harbison), Stephens came to acting while a student at UCLA.

With only a few drama lessons behind him, he applied for a job at the Pilgrimage Theater and eventually went to work with Walter Hampden's repertory company.

He toured in stock companies throughout the United States and landed on Broadway, where he played with Katherine Cornell in "Dishonored Lady," Leslie Howard in "The Animal Kingdom," Herbert Marshall in "Tomorrow and Tomorrow," Ruth Gordon in "Over 21" and Mary Martin in "South Pacific."

Film work included several of the "Hopalong Cassidy" pictures, "Abe Lincoln in Illinois," as James Cagney's brother in "Oklahoma Kid," "North by Northwest," "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing," "George Washington Slept Here" and "Maid of Salem."

In none of them did he get the girl.

Stephens also was seen often on television in the "Bonanza" and "Perry Mason" series.

In the late 1930s he was at the forefront of a growing interest in gliders and helped organize several Southland competitions.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara; two sons; a daughter; three grandchildren and a sister.

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