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Sam Edwards, 89; Actor Played 'Everyman' Roles

August 01, 2004|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Sam Edwards, an "everyman" character actor who appeared in a number of classic television series, including "Dragnet," "Gunsmoke" and "Mission: Impossible," as well as movies that ranged from a World War II drama, "Twelve O' Clock High," to a musical comedy, "Hello, Dolly!," has died. He was 89.

Edwards suffered a heart attack and was admitted to a hospital near his home in Durango, Colo., where he died Wednesday, according to his stepson, William Edwards.

Born into a show business family in Macon, Ga., Edwards made his acting debut as a baby, held in the arms of his actress mother, Edna Park, in a stage production of "Tess of the Storm Country."

Starting in the early 1930s, he worked in radio drama, several times in programs that involved other family members. One of them, "The Adventures of Sonny and Buddy," was a pioneer weekly broadcast series in which Edwards played a boy who ran away from home and joined a traveling medicine show.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday August 04, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 65 words Type of Material: Correction
Edwards obituary -- The obituary of actor Sam Edwards in Sunday's California section credited him with supplying the voice of Thumper the rabbit in the 1942 animated movie, "Bambi." According to Disney archivist David Smith, Edwards was one of three actors who supplied the voice. They were Peter Behn as the young Thumper, Tim Davis as the adolescent Thumper and Edwards as the adult Thumper.

In 1937 he and his brother, sister and parents played themselves in "The Edwards Family." The show ended abruptly when Sam was drafted into the Army in 1942.

For most of his three-year tour of duty he entertained U.S. troops in Africa, Italy and Asia. When he left the service he returned to radio and played one of his most memorable characters, Dexter Franklin, the bumbling teenage boy next door in "Meet Corliss Archer." He joined the long-running show in the late '40s and remained through the final season in 1955. Janet Waldo played Corliss.

By the early 1950s Edwards was working steadily in television, making guest appearances in many of the most successful shows. One of his regular roles was Mr. Anderson, the town banker, on "Little House on the Prairie" from 1978 until 1983.

He supplied voices in several children's productions -- Thumper the rabbit in the animated Disney film "Bambi" in 1942 and, more recently, Owl and Tigger on several "Winnie the Pooh" LP records.

Edwards is survived by his wife, Beverly; his brother, Jack; three stepchildren; and several step-grandchildren.

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