Monday, September 11, 2017

Character Actor Percy Helton 1971 Westwood Village Cemetery

Percy Helton (January 31, 1894 – September 11, 1971) was an American stage, film, and television character actor.


A native of New York City, Percy Alfred Michel Helton[1] began acting at the age of two, appearing in vaudeville acts with his British-born father, Alfred "Alf" Helton (born William Alfred Michel).[2] By 1906 he was a cast member in the Broadway production of Clara Lipman's play Julie BonBon, which premiered that year on New Year's Day in the Lew M. Field Theater.[3] Helton would go on to perform in many other Broadway plays before joining the United States Army in World War I. Deployed to Europe during the war, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his duty with the 305th Field Artillery of the American Expeditionary Forces' 77th Division.[4]

Helton returned to acting and singing professionally after his discharge from the army. However, in one of his subsequent stage roles he was required to shout and scream his lines during much of the play. The resulting stress and damage to his vocal chords after repeated performances left him permanently hoarse, with a raspy falsetto voice and a breathy delivery.[5] That change in his voice altered Helton's career. He remained in acting but chiefly as a character actor in a wide range of films and television programs in the 1950s and 1960s. Among those programs were three guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of Asa Cooperman in the 1961 episode "The Case of the Pathetic Patient." Some examples of the films in which he performed include Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Criss Cross (1949), The Set-Up (1949), Kiss Me Deadly (1955), and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). He is a particular favorite of film noir fans, having co-starred in several classics of the genre. It was his performance in one of those films, Wicked Woman (1953), where Helton reached perhaps the apex of his career in his characterization of "Charlie Borg." In that role he portrayed a foolish neighbor who gets lured to his possible doom by a devious waitress played by Beverly Michaels.

Personal life and death

Percy Helton married actress Edna Roberta Eustace on October 24, 1931. They had no children.[6][7] He died at age 77 at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital on September 11, 1971, the year of his final film appearance. His ashes are inurned at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Partial filmography

The Fairy and the Waif (1915) as The Waif
The Flower of Faith (1916) as Tom Judson
The Master Mind (1920) as Younger brother
Silver Wings (1922) as John (play)
Insinuation (1922) as Jimmie
The Offenders (1922)
Frankie and Johnny (1936) as Undetermined role (uncredited)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) as Drunken Santa Claus (uncredited)

Call Northside 777 (1948) as William Decker - Mailman (uncredited)

Let's Live Again (1948) as Mr. President

Hazard (1948) as Beady Robbins

Larceny (1948) as Charlie Jordan
That Wonderful Urge (1948) as Monroe Township Jail Drunk (uncredited)
Chicken Every Sunday (1949) as Mr. Sawyer (uncredited)

Criss Cross (1949) as Frank

Alias Nick Beal (1949) as Lawyer (uncredited)

The Set-Up (1949) as Red

The Crooked Way (1949) as Petey
Lust for Gold (1949) as Barber (uncredited)
Red, Hot and Blue (1949) as Mr. Perkins, Stage manager

Abbott and Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff (1949) as Abernathy

Thieves' Highway (1949) as Roadside Bar Manager (uncredited)

My Friend Irma (1949) as Mr. Clyde
Free for All (1949) as Joe Hershey
The Secret Fury (1950) as Justice of the Peace Roy T. Palmer (uncredited)
Tyrant of the Sea (1950) as Crewman (uncredited)
Harbor of Missing Men (1950) as 'Rummy' Davis
Wabash Avenue (1950) as Ship Captain (uncredited)
Riding High (1950) as Pawnbroker (uncredited)
Fancy Pants (1950) as Mayor Fogarty (uncredited)
A Life of Her Own (1950) as Hamburger Proprietor (uncredited)
Copper Canyon (1950) as 'Scamper' Joad
The Sun Sets at Dawn (1950) as Reporter, Feature Syndicate
Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) as Bellerose
Under Mexicali Stars (1950) as Nap Wellington
Three Guys Named Mike (1951) as Mr. Hawkins, Hotel Manager
Inside Straight (1951) as Lawyer Anderson (uncredited)
Night Into Morning (1951) as Drunk (uncredited)
Never Trust a Gambler (1951) as Sunbeam Liquor Store Clerk (uncredited)
Darling, How Could You! (1951) as Cabbie (uncredited)
The Tall Target (1951) as Beamish - Passenger in Club Car (uncredited)
Chain of Circumstance (1951) as Fogel
The Family Secret (1951) as Charlie (uncredited)
The Barefoot Mailman (1951) as Dewey Durgan (uncredited)
The Stooge (1952) as Sam Robertson (uncredited)
A Girl in Every Port (1952) as Drive-In Manager
The Belle of New York (1952) as Presents Angela with Flowers (uncredited)
I Dream of Jeanie (1952) as Mr. Horker
Three for Bedroom "C" (1952) as Alcoholic Train Passenger (uncredited)
She's Back on Broadway (1953) as News Vendor (scenes deleted)
Call Me Madam (1953) as Sen. Wilkins
Scared Stiff (1953) as Man in Hotel Hallway (uncredited)
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953) as Marlowe
Ride, Vaquero! (1953) as Storekeeper (uncredited)

Vice Squad (1953) as Mr. Jenner (uncredited)

Down Laredo Way (1953) as Judge Sully
The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953) as Mr. Hammersmith, Book Seller (uncredited)
City of Bad Men (1953) as Old-Timer at Training Camp (uncredited)
The Robe (1953) as Caleb - Wine Merchant (uncredited)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) as Mr. Benton (uncredited)

Wicked Woman (1953) as Charlie Borg

Geraldine (1953) as Pop (uncredited)
Lucky Me (1954) as Brown (uncredited)
About Mrs. Leslie (1954) as Mr. Hackley
A Star is Born (1954) as William Gregory (uncredited)
The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954) as Kerbelai, Hajji's Barber Father (uncredited)
White Christmas (1954) as Train Conductor (uncredited)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) as Coach Driver
Crashout (1955) as Doctor Louis Barnes

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) as Doc Kennedy

Jail Busters (1955) as Warden B.W. Oswald
Trial (1955) as Youval (uncredited)
No Man's Woman (1955) as Otto Peterson
Diane (1956) as Court Jester (uncredited)
Fury at Gunsight Pass (1956) as Peter Boggs
Terror at Midnight (1956) as Speegie
The Boss (1956) as Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
Shake, Rattle and Rock! (1956) as Hiram, the funeral director
The Phantom Stagecoach (1957) as Mr. Wiggins
The Vintage (1957) as Voice Dub for Berger (uncredited)
This Could Be the Night (1957) as Charlie (uncredited)
Spook Chasers (1957) as Mike Clancy
The Last Stagecoach West (1957) as Telegrapher (uncredited)
Jailhouse Rock (1957) as Sam Brewster (uncredited)
The Sheepman (1958) as Station Master (uncredited)
The Proud Rebel (1958) as Photographer (uncredited)

Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958) as Waldo Pike, the Plumber (uncredited)

Ask Any Girl (1959) as Janitor in Meg Wheeler's Building (uncredited)
Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) as Baldy (uncredited)
Where the Boys Are (1960) as Fairview Motel Manager (uncredited)
Ride the High Country (1962) as Luther Samson (uncredited)
The Music Man (1962) as Train Conductor (uncredited)
The Wheeler Dealers (1963) as Deke (uncredited)
4 for Texas (1963) as Jonas Ansel
Get Yourself A College Girl (1964) as Senator's Chauffeur (uncredited)
Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) as Funeral Director
Dear Brigitte (1965) as Kraft - Man at Computer Lab (uncredited)
Zebra in the Kitchen (1965) as Mr. Richardson

The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) as Mr. Peevey

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966) as Diner Customer (uncredited)
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) as Kevin McKenzie (uncredited)
The Big Mouth (1967) as Sanitation Man (uncredited)
Head (1968) as Heraldic Messenger
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as Sweetface (uncredited)
The Day of the Wolves (1971) as The Farmer
Legend of the Northwest (1978) (final film role)

Television appearances

Adventures of Superman (1953, Episode 36, "The Face and the Voice") as Hamlet
Death Valley Days (1953) as Little Oscar
Death Valley Days (1958) as Scrubby in Episode 296
The Life of Riley (1953) as Mr. Cox
The Lone Ranger (1955) as Pete Travis
Father Knows Best (1957) as Desk Clerk
Maverick (1957-1960) as Bradley / Mr. Venner

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1961)
as Cyrus Rutherford / Morton / Newspaperman / Building super /
George the Janitor / Lawyer /Gerald Eaton

Lawman (1959-1961) as Thatcher / Ellery Purvy / Oren
Gunsmoke (1959-1966) as Mr. Early / Arbuckle / Duffer / Otie
Bonanza (1959-1967) as Bleeker / Pete / Lafe / Blurry Jones
The Untouchables (1960) as Jocko Monaghan / Mr. Meyer
Law of the Plainsman (1960) as Del Martin
Mr. Lucky (1960) as Pop Markel
Laramie (1961-1963) as Opie / Clemson Frazer / Wes Snyder - Auctioneer
Cheyenne (1961) as Matthew Beasely
Perry Mason (1961-1965) as Hotel Desk Clerk / Asa Cooperman / Pawnbroker

Mister Ed (1962-1965) as Zoo Attendant / Dr. Evans

The Twilight Zone (1963-1964) as Lapham / Tom Poulter

Bewitched (1964)

The Fugitive (1964) as Hobo

Petticoat Junction (1965-1970) as Mr. Benton / Hinky Mittenfloss
Green Acres (1966-1969) as Luke Needlinger / Ira Hatch / Willie
The Jerry Lewis Show (1967)
Green Hornet (1967, Episode 20 "Ace in the Hole") as Gus
The Mothers-In-Law (1967) as Dean Roberts
The Virginian (1967, "Execution at Triste") as Dean Roberts
The Beverly Hillbillies (1968-1969) as Homer Cratchit
Batman (1968) as Gus

Get Smart (1968) as A.J. Pfister

Land of the Giants (1968) as Akman
The Wild Wild West (1968) as Proprietor
Love American Style (1970) as Wharton (segment "Love and Those Poor Crusaders' Wives")
Mission: Impossible (1971) as Dailey


2. "Stars of Broadway #1024: Percy Helton," Travalanche.
3. Rollins, Scott. "Film and TV Trivia": Percy Helton.
4. Obituary, "Percy Helton, Actor in 200 Films, is Dead." The New York Times. September 14, 1971.
5. "Percy Helton," Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
6. "Percy Helton," NNDB.
7. "JR" (2006). "You Know the Face But What's the Name?" "Character Actor Hall of Fame: Percy Helton." Online source devoted to biographical profiles and trivia relating principally to actors who are or were frequent supporting cast members in films and on television; December 5, 2006.

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