Lyle Talbot

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Lyle Talbot

in the trailer for the film
Havana Widows (1933)
BornLisle Henderson
(1902-02-08)February 8, 1902
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
DiedMarch 2, 1996(1996-03-02) (aged 94)
San Francisco, California
Cause of deathCongestive heart failure
Resting placeCremation
Years active1931–1987
Spouse(s)Margaret Epple (1948-1989) (her death) 4 children
Keven McClure (1946-1947) (divorced)
Abigail Adams (1942-1942) (annulled)
Marguerite Cramer (1937-1940) (divorced)
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Lyle Talbot

in the trailer for the film
Havana Widows (1933)
BornLisle Henderson
(1902-02-08)February 8, 1902
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
DiedMarch 2, 1996(1996-03-02) (aged 94)
San Francisco, California
Cause of deathCongestive heart failure
Resting placeCremation
Years active1931–1987
Spouse(s)Margaret Epple (1948-1989) (her death) 4 children
Keven McClure (1946-1947) (divorced)
Abigail Adams (1942-1942) (annulled)
Marguerite Cramer (1937-1940) (divorced)

Lyle Talbot (February 8, 1902 – March 2, 1996) was an American actor on stage and screen, best known for his long career in film from 1931 to 1960 and for his frequent appearances on television in the 1950s and 1960s, including his decade-long role as Joe Randolph on the ABC situation comedy, 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

He began his movie career under contract to Warner Brothers in the early days of "talking pictures" and appeared in more than 150 films, first as a young matinée idol and later as a character actor and star of many B movies. He was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and later served on the board.

Talbot's exceptionally long and incredibly varied career as an actor is recounted in a new book by his youngest daughter, The New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot, entitled The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father's Twentieth Century (Riverhead Books: A division of Penguin, 2012).



Born Lisle Henderson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Talbot was reared in Brainard in Butler County in eastern Nebraska. He began his career as a magician's assistant and became a leading actor in traveling tent shows in the American Midwest. He briefly established his own theater company in Memphis, Tennessee. He went to Hollywood, California, in 1931, when the film industry began producing movies with sound and needed "actors who could talk". His screen test was watched and appreciated by studio head Darryl F. Zanuck and, even more so, by director William Wellman who immediately wanted to cast Talbot.[1]

Film and stage

Most notable among his film work was his appearance in the classic pre-noir Three on a Match (1932) with Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis, co-starring with Spencer Tracy. He also was cast in the prison movie 20,000 Years in Sing Sing. He romanced opera singer Grace Moore in One Night of Love and pursued Mae West in Go West, Young Man. He appeared opposite Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, Mary Astor, Ginger Rogers, and Shirley Temple.

Talbot's activism in SAG union affairs impacted his career path. Warner Bros. dropped him from its roster, and Talbot seldom received starring roles again. He became a capable character actor, playing affable neighbors or crafty villains with equal finesse. In countless low-budget B-movie work, Talbot's roles spanned the gamut. He played cowboys, pirates, detectives, cops, surgeons, psychiatrists, soldiers, judges, newspaper editors, storekeepers, and boxers.

In later life, Talbot proudly claimed to have never rejected any role offered to him. He played roles in three now infamous Edward D. Wood, Jr., films: Glen or Glenda, Jail Bait and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Talbot also worked with the Three Stooges in Gold Raiders, portrayed Lex Luthor in 1950's Atom Man vs. Superman, played villains in four comedies with The Bowery Boys, and took the role of Commissioner Gordon in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin. His last film role was in 1960 in the Franklin D. Roosevelt biography, Sunrise at Campobello, starring Ralph Bellamy in the title role.

Having started his career in the theater and later co-starred on Broadway in 1940-1941 in Separate Rooms, Talbot returned to the stage in the 1960s and 1970s, starring in national road company versions of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, Gore Vidal's political drama The Best Man, Neil Simon's The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, Arthur Sumner Long's "Never Too Late," and appearing as Captain Braddock in a 1967 revival of South Pacific, at Lincoln Center in New York City.


Talbot also appeared in many television programs, three times as Colonel Billings on the syndicated western series, The Adventures of Kit Carson (1951–1955), starring Bill Williams. He appeared four times as a judge on the syndicated western The Cisco Kid, starring Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo. He guest starred on Gene Autry's The Range Rider, starring Jock Mahoney and Dick Jones.[2]

From 1955 to 1966, Talbot appeared in some seventy episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, as the helpful neighbor, Joe Randolph, with Mary Jane Croft as the outspoken Mrs. Clara Randolph.[2] In time, he superseded Don DeFore as Thorny, the Nelson's other neighbor.[3]

From 1950 to 1955, Talbot was cast five times in different roles on the western, The Lone Ranger. In 1955, he appeared as Baylor in six episodes of the series, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. From 1953 to 1957, he was cast as different characters in four episodes of the anthology series, Lux Video Theatre.[2]

Talbot also had a recurring role from 1955 to 1958 as Robert Cummings' United States Air Force buddy Paul Fonda in seven episodes of NBC's The Bob Cummings Show. From 1954 to 1958, he appeared six times on the CBS' sitcom, December Bride, with Spring Byington. In 1967, he was cast three times as Colonel Blake in CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies. From 1965 to 1971, he appeared three times on The Beverly Hilbillies spin-off, Green Acres.

In 1959, Talbot was cast as Sheriff Clyde Chadwick in "The Sanctuary" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston. The guest cast also included Harry Lauter as Johnny Tyler, and Van Williams as Tom Rucker.[4]

Among Talbot's other guest-starring appearances included Annie Oakley, It's a Great Life, The Public Defender, The Pride of the Family, Crossroads, Hey, Jeannie!, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Broken Arrow, The Millionaire, Tales of Wells Fargo, Buckskin, Cimarron City, Angel, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside 6, The Roaring 20s, The Restless Gun, Stagecoach West, The Red Skelton Show, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, Topper, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Laredo, Perry Mason, The Real McCoys, Rawhide, Wagon Train, Charlie's Angels, Newhart, The Dukes of Hazzard, St. Elsewhere, and Who's the Boss?.[2]

Talbot continued to appear occasionally on television in his eighties and narrated two PBS biographies, The Case of Dashiell Hammett and World Without Walls about pioneering pilot Beryl Markham, both produced and written by his son, Stephen Talbot, formerly a recurring cast member, Gilbert Bates, on Leave It to Beaver, another series on which his father had also appeared.

Talbot was the first live action actor to play two prominent DC Comics characters on-screen: the aforementioned Commissioner Gordon in Batman and Robin, and supervillain Lex Luthor in Atom Man vs. Superman (who at the time was simply known as Luthor). Talbot began a longstanding tradition of actors in these roles that were most recently filled by Gary Oldman and Kevin Spacey, respectively.

Personal life

After several brief marriages and countless romantic entanglements, Talbot in 1948 married a young singer and actress, Margaret Epple, who often used the stage name, Paula. They had four children together and remained married for more than forty years until her death in 1989.

Three of their four children became journalists: Stephen Talbot was for many years a documentary producer for the PBS series Frontline and "Frontline World" and is now the executive producer of Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders. David Talbot is an author ("Brothers" about John F. and Robert F. Kennedy) and the founder and editor of

Margaret Talbot of The New Yorker who wrote about her father's long career beginning in pre-Code Hollywood, why he never became a big star, and his role in founding the Screen Actors Guild, in her magazine's edition of October 1, 2012.[1] The second daughter, Cynthia Talbot, is a family physician and residency director in Portland, Oregon.

Talbot's granddaughter, Caitlin Talbot, is an actress based in Los Angeles.


Talbot died in 1996 at his home in San Francisco, California, at the age of ninety-four from congestive heart failure, his remains were cremated and given to his family.

Selected filmography

YearTitleRoleOther notes
1932Love Is a RacketEdw. Griswold 'Eddie' ShawAlternative title: Such Things Happen
No More OrchidsTony Holt
Three on a MatchMichael Loftus
20,000 Years in Sing SingBud Saunders
1933The Life of Jimmy DolanDoc Woods
Havana Widows
Ladies They Talk About
A Shriek in the NightTed Kord
1934Heat LightningJeff
Registered NurseDr. Greg Connolly
Fog Over FriscoSpencer Carlton
The Dragon Murder CaseDale Leland
1935Red Hot TiresWallace Storm
Oil for the Lamps of ChinaJim
Page Miss GlorySlattery of the Express
The Case of the Lucky LegsDr. Bob Doray
1937Second HoneymoonRobert "Bob" Benton
1939Second FiddleWillie Hogger
1940He Married His WifePaul Hunter
1944Gambler's ChoiceYellow Gloves Weldon
Sensations of 1945Randall
1946Chick Carter, DetectiveChick Carter
1949Batman and RobinCommissioner Jim Gordon
She Shoulda Said No!Police Captain Hayes
1950Dick TracyB.R. Ayne aka The BrainTV, 7 episodes
Atom Man vs. SupermanLuthor/The Atom Man
Lucky LosersBruce McDermott
1950–1954The Cisco KidVarious rolesTV, 4 episodes
1950–1956The Lone RangerVarious rolesTV, 5 episodes
1951Gold RaidersTaggertAlternative title: The Stooges Go West
1951–1956The Adventures of Wild Bill HickokVarious rolesTV, 4 episodes
1952Untamed WomenCol. Loring
Death Valley DaysTV, 1 episode
1953Glen or GlendaInsp. Warren
The Roy Rogers ShowJohn ZacharyTV, 1 episode
1954Gunfighters of the NorthwestInspector Wheeler
Tobor the GreatAn Admiral
1954–1958December BrideBill MonahanTV, 6 episodes
1955Hallmark Hall of FameTV, 1 episode
Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the UniverseBaylorTV, 6 episodes
1955–1959The Bob Cummings ShowPaul FondaTV, 4 episodes
1956Navy LogCaptain MorganTV, 1 episode
The MillionaireJoe PriceTV, 1 episode
1956–1966The Adventures of Ozzie and HarrietJoe RandolphTV, 71 episodes (2 uncredited)
1957Science Fiction TheatreGeneral DothanTV, 1 episode
Tales of Wells FargoReporterTV, 1 episode
1958M SquadPaul CrowleyTV, 1 episode
Leave It to BeaverCharles "Chuck" DennisonTV, 2 episodes
1958–1959The Restless GunVarious rolesTV, 2 episodes
1959Plan 9 from Outer SpaceGeneral Roberts
The Ann Sothern ShowFinletterTV, 1 episode
1960Surfside 6Alan CrandellTV, 1 episode
Hawaiian EyeGeorge WallaceTV, 1 episode
1960The DuPont Show with June AllysonMr. AndersTV, 1 episode, "The Trench Coat"
1961Mister EdGeorge HausnerTV, 1 episode
LawmanOrville LusterTV, 1 episode
1962Make Room for DaddyTV, 1 episode
Dennis the MenaceMayorTV, 1 episode
1962–1967The Beverly HillbilliesColonel BlakeTV, 4 episodes
1963Arrest and TrialPhil PaigeTV, 1 episode
The Lucy ShowTV, 1 episode
196477 Sunset StripTatumTV, 1 episode
Petticoat JunctionMr. CheeverTV, 1 episode
1965Run for Your LifeSteven BlakelyTV, 1 episode
The Smothers Brothers ShowMarty MillerTV, 1 episode
1965–1966LaredoVarious rolesTV, 2 episodes
1968DragnetWilliam Joseph CorneliusTV, 1 episode
1970Here's LucyVarious rolesTV, 2 episodes
1972O'Hara, U.S. TreasuryArt PrescottTV, 1 episode
1973Adam-12Avery DawsonTV, 1 episode
1979Charlie's AngelsMillsTV, 1 episode
1984The Dukes of HazzardCarter StewartTV, 1 episode
St. ElsewhereJohnny BarnesTV, 1 episode
1985227HaroldTV, 1 episode
1986Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMr. FletcherTV, 1 episode
Who's the Boss?RalphTV, 1 episode
1987NewhartCousin NedTV, 1 episode


  1. ^ a b "Out Loud: A Life in Hollywood". Culture Desk blog. The New Yorker. September 24, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Lyle Talbot". Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  3. ^ "Don DeFore". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  4. ^ "Colt .45". Retrieved December 22, 2012.

External links

Preceded by
Actors portraying Lex Luthor
for Atom Man vs. Superman
Succeeded by
Gene Hackman
for Superman, Superman II and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace