July 28, 2011

Veteran Actor Bruce Gordon, Memorable for The Untouchables, Many Other Series

Gordon is best known for the role of mob boss Frank Nitti on the classic crime drama The Untouchables.

Veteran character actor Bruce Gordon, who is remembered for his role as mob boss Frank Nitti on classic 1959-63 crime drama The Untouchables, died on January 20, 2011, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 94.

Born on February 1, 1916, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Gordon made his Broadway debut in 1937 in a musical drama called The Fireman’s Flame. Other early roles in the theater included the original production of Arsenic and Old Lace opposite Boris Karloff, Antony and Cleopatra opposite Charlton Heston from 1947-48, Medea in 1949, Richard II in 1951, and The Lark opposite Julie Harris in 1955.

In a career spanning five decades, Gordon traveled the early guest star route in series The Man Behind the Badge, I Spy, Justice, Kraft Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, M Squad, Trackdown, Have Gun, Will Travel and 1958-59 spy drama Behind Closed Doors, which he hosted. After The Untouchables concluded in 1963, he guest starred in series like Naked City, The Defenders and Perry Mason until landing a regular stint in the 1965-66 season of serialized drama Peyton Place. Other TV credits included a one-season run on failed sitcom Run Buddy Run, and guest spots on The Lucy Show, Bonanza, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Jackie Gleason Show, The Flying Nun, Get Smart, Mannix, It Takes a Thief, Ironside, Here’s Lucy, Adam-12, Police Woman, The Fall Guy and Simon & Simon.

Gordon also appeared on the big screen in the Marx Brothers’ final film, Love Happy, in 1949; The Bucaneer opposite Yul Brynner in 1958; The Tower of London in 1962 with Vincent Price; and Piranha in 1978. He retired from acting after playing himself in the 1989 comedy Ernest Goes to Splash Mountain. Outside of acting, Gordon was the executive producer of the Australian telefilm Feds: The Betrayal in 1996, producer of low-budget martial arts film Warriors of Virtue: the Return of Tao in 2002, and ran a dinner theater in Scottsdale, Arizona, called Frank Nitti’s Place.

Gordon is survived by his wife.

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