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Tige Andrews, 86; character actor played Capt. Greer in 'Mod Squad'

February 03, 2007|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Tige Andrews, a character actor who earned an Emmy nomination for portraying Capt. Adam Greer, the officer who recruited the undercover cops of television's "The Mod Squad," has died. He was 86.

Andrews, who often played detectives during a TV career that spanned five decades, died of cardiac arrest Jan. 27 at his longtime home in Encino, his family said.

"Dad was really proud of 'The Mod Squad.' He felt the show made a big difference because it was one of the first television series to address social issues such as drugs, prostitution and teen pregnancy that were more hush-hush before that time," said Barbara Andrews, one of his six children

He also loved "working with 'the kids,' " which was how he always referred to the show's young stars -- Clarence Williams III, Michael Cole and Peggy Lipton, his daughter said.

Andrews appeared in several episodes of the ABC series that aired from 1968 to 1973.

After seeing Andrews in "Mister Roberts" on Broadway, director John Ford cast him in the 1955 film version and at least two other projects.

"To us, John Ford was Uncle Plum because Ford loved him and kept giving him more lines here and there," Barbara Andrews said. "He was a huge influence in his life."

The actor worked on more than 60 television shows, including a lead role as tough-talking Lt. Russo in "The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor," which aired from 1959 to 1962.

Tiger Andrews was born March 19, 1920, in Brooklyn, N.Y. His immigrant parents, following Syrian custom, named him after a strong animal because it was supposed to ensure good health, his family said.

When Andrews was 3, his mother, Selma, died and his father, George, later remarried. He grew up in a large family in Middlesex, N.J., where his father ran a fruit stand.

During World War II, Andrews served in the Army but returned home after being wounded in Sicily.

A former standout in high school plays, he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

In an off-Broadway revival of "The Threepenny Opera" that debuted in 1955, he appeared as Streetsinger, an experience his family said he cherished.

His wife of 46 years, Norma Thornton, a dancer who appeared regularly on "The Ed Sullivan Show," died in 1996.

In addition to his daughter Barbara, Andrews is survived by children John, Gina, Steve, Julianna and Tony; and 11 grandchildren.

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valerie.nelson@latimes.com

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