Eight Million Stories in the NAKED CITY … Many of Them Uncredited (Part 2)

March 11, 2011

In my last post, I began a tour of the unbilled actors who lurked on the streets of the sixties crime drama Naked City.  Many of whom later went on to become major stars, or at least busy character actors.  Now, with the help of the production records on file in the archives of Naked City’s executive producer Herbert B. Leonard, we can identify most of these uncredited performers.

For some reason, Naked City’s third season yields the best crop of soon-to-be-famous bit players.  Maybe Marion Dougherty, the show’s legendary casting director, honed her knack for spotting future stars as she went along.  

Let’s begin with the one of the tiniest speaking parts you can possibly imagine.  Squint at this scene from 1962’s “Torment Him Much and Hold Him Long,” which stars Robert Duvall (in one of four leading Naked City roles) and Barbara Loden (director of Wanda, wife of Kazan, fleetingly a sixties ingenue) as husband and wife, and you’ll see a black couple in the stairwell in the background:

 

The male half of that couple is one Bobby Dean Hooks, who under the more formal moniker of Robert Hooks would become a fairly important leading man a few years later; fittingly, he starred in the next major New York City police drama, N.Y.P.D.  This Naked City episode precedes any other recorded television or film appearance for Hooks.

“Dust Devil on a Quiet Street” takes place in the world of young, aspiring performers.  With its scrutiny of a faded acting teacher (Richard Basehart) and a disturbed young actor under his tutelage (Robert Walker), it’s one of the most detailed glimpses of the process of acting ever attempted in a television drama.  The original writer of “Dust Devil,” Anthony Lawrence, told me that he struggled with the script, and welcomed the revisions undertaken by Naked City’s legendary story editor, Howard Rodman.  Rodman’s wife at the time, Norma Connolly, was a character actress, and I suspect that Rodman’s observations of her work are the source of the authentic-seeming acting exercises in “Dust Devil.” 

Ironically, for a text so sympathetic to the plight of the struggling actor, none of the actors we see performing in Basehart’s workshop receive screen credit.  However, Dougherty got it right once again: four of the five actors playing actors went on to enjoy noteworthy careers.  The first pair to try out a scene (which Basehart decimates) are Penny Fuller (All the President’s Men) and Ken Kercheval (Dallas):

 

Other students who have a line or two each include Stephen Brooks (front row, looking to the left), soon to co-star in The Nurses and The F.B.I., and character actress Joanna Miles (farthest right), also a Dallas alumna:

 

Moving on to the extraordinary “King Stanislaus and the Knights of the Round Stable” – the one with Jack Klugman, John Larch, and a meat cleaver all locked together in a butcher’s freezer – I originally thought that this young brunette nurse on the right might be Elizabeth Ashley, who did play an early role on Route 66 (another Herbert Leonard / Marion Dougherty effort) around the same time: 

 

Wrong: it’s actually Broadway actress and director Joan Darling, later of Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law

A week later, in the episode “Spectre of the Rose Street Gang,” we catch a single glimpse of The Waltons’ Ralph Waite, likely in his television debut, as a chauffeur:

 

. . . and then in “The Highest of Prizes,” only a slightly longer look at The Stepford Wives’ Peter Masterson (shown with Paul Burke), likely in his television debut, as a ferry boat crewman:

 

The final episode of Naked City, “Barefoot on a Bed of Coals,” is famous for Dustin Hoffman’s brief but showy role in the teaser, as a two-bit holdup man who gets blasted by a beat cop (Steven Hill).  Hoffman made the closing credits – just barely, in the penultimate slot – but a lot of familiar faces around him didn’t.  Here’s the great Philip Bruns (The Out of Towners; Harry and Tonto; The Great Waldo Pepper) as a paramedic who grouchily tends to Hoffman’s wound:

 

And Melvin Stewart (Trick Baby; Scarecrow and Mrs. King) as a witness to the crime:

 

Soon it’s revealed that Hill’s character isn’t really a cop.  Fortunately, there are plenty of real uniformed policemen around, played by the likes of Ramon Bieri (Badlands; Sorcerer):

 

. . . and future biker movie star Tom Stern, also uncredited:

For the fellow TV junkies in the audience who had watched these Naked Citys before reading this post . . . how many of these actors did you spot?

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3 Responses to “Eight Million Stories in the NAKED CITY … Many of Them Uncredited (Part 2)”

  1. detectivetom Says:

    Whats the reason for names not listed in the credits? Is it a financial thing, like they have to be paid more?

  2. Stephen Bowie Says:

    Tom, there’s no special reason as far as I know. It was common in those days for bit players, and even supporting actors with meaty parts, not to get screen credit, on both TV episodes and movies. Now there may be a SAG obligation to get a credit if you have a line, but there wasn’t in the 60s.

    Day players on the one-hour NAKED CITY got $90 or $100 each, and as far as I can tell screen credit did not affect that amount. Occasionally Marion Dougherty would make a special request that an actor receive screen credit, and that was almost always done.

    I’m not clear on who prepared the final screen credits, although whoever it was seems to have been more scrupulous on the hour version of the show than on the 1958 version. In the 30-minute incarnation, the cast lists were compiled in no particular order, and then if that list had to be whittled down to fit on screen, names were deleted almost at random (or based on vague memory), so that a bit player might get credit and a prominent guest star wouldn’t. For the episode “Ticker Tape,” the actor playing the guest lead — Ed Fury — was left off the credits. When the show relaunched as an hour, they were more careful to list the actors according (roughly) to the size of their roles.

  3. avlisk Says:

    Just saw 1961 episode, The Sweet Prince of Delancy Street and Dustin Hoffman is in it, too. Along with Robert Morse. (In case you don’t have this credit.)


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