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While most of his professional career centered in television, Summers made his acting debut in the 1961 film, Mad Dog Coll. He appeared in a recurring role on the ABC soap opera, General Hospital, as Dr. Bob Ayres during the 1964-1965 television season. His best known role was as Jack Dane on Daktari, which aired from 1966 to 1968. From 197 to 1974, Summers co-starred in the NBC daytime series, Return to Peyton Place, as the character Rodney Harrington.
His additional television roles included guest spots on Land of the Giants, My Favorite Martian, My Three Sons, Window on Main Street, The Outer Limits, Quincy, M.E., Fantasy Island, and The Donna Reed Show.
Summers was a founding member of the SAG Awards Committee and for a time the chairman of that committee. Summers was a co-founder and producer of the Screen Actors Guild Awards from 1995 until 2009.
Summers also served as the former national treasurer and the recording secretary for SAG. Summers was a trustee of the SAG Pension and Health Funds and a member of the board for the SAG Foundation. In 2008, SAG awarded Summers the Ralph Morgan Award for his service and involvement with the union.
Summers was active with another actors' union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He served a combined twenty-four years on the national AFTRA board and the union's local Los Angeles chapter.
SAG and AFTRA merged in March 2012, shortly before Summers' death.
Summers was born in Manhattan, New York City, July 26, 1933. He was the only child of Joseph and Edlie Neuvohner. In 1955, Summers received a Bachelor of Business Administration detree from Cornell University. He served in the United States Army, having attained the rank of lieutenant.
Summers died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Beverly Hills, California, on May 6, 2012, at the age of 78. He was survived by his wife, Suzie Summers, two children, and two grandchildren.
Actor and former SAG President Ed Asner said, "Yale was a good man and a good friend who was totally dedicated to his belief in the union. He was completely unbiased and never took sides. He had a purist vision of how the guild should be run and wasn't swayed by the influence of special interest groups. He put the best interest of the guild and union first. I'm deeply sorry for his passing."