Carl Lawrence Betz (March 9, 1921 – January 18, 1978) was an American stage, film, and television actor. He appeared in a variety of television series, including the long-running CBS soap opera Love of Life; however, he is best remembered for playing Donna Reed's television husband, Dr. Alex Stone, from 1958 to 1966 in the ABC sitcom The Donna Reed Show. Then between 1967 and 1969, Betz played defense attorney Clinton Judd in ABC's courtroom drama Judd for the Defense, winning an Emmy Award in 1969 for his work on that series.
Early years[edit | edit source]
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1921, Betz was the oldest of four children—two sons and two daughters—of Carl W. and Mary Leona Betz. His father was a native of Missouri; and according to the federal census of 1930, he was then the "chief chemist" at a local laboratory and later, by 1940, for Allegheny County. Growing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs of Crafton and Mt. Lebanon, Betz began his amateur acting career very early, at the age of 10, when he formed a theatrical company with six friends who performed plays in his grandmother's basement. After graduating from Mount Lebanon High School in 1939, he won a scholarship to Duquesne University. During the summer, Betz performed in a Pittsburgh summer stock company and decided to transfer to Carnegie Mellon University, then known as Carnegie Tech, in Pittsburgh to study drama. His education was interrupted in 1942, when he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in Italy and North Africa during World War II and eventually became a technical sergeant with the Corps of Engineers.
After the war, Betz returned to Carnegie Tech and earned a degree in drama. After graduation, he worked as a radio announcer and disk jockey before moving to New York City. Betz continued working in summer and winter stock companies and also worked for a while as a doorman at Radio City Music Hall.
Career[edit | edit source]
Betz made his Broadway debut in 1952 in The Long Watch, and toured with Veronica Lake in the summer stock play, The Voice of the Turtle. He then appeared for 18 months as Collie Jordan on Love of Life. Prior to his eight-year run on The Donna Reed Show, Betz made guest appearances on such television series as Sheriff of Cochise, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, The Millionaire, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
In 1958, Betz was cast as pediatrician Dr. Alex Stone in ABC sitcom The Donna Reed Show. The show revolves around the home and school problems of a middle-class American family in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Alex was often called upon to rescue wife Donna Stone (Reed) from awkward situations and to monitor the behavior of their children, Mary (Shelley Fabares) and Jeff (Paul Petersen). Jeff Stone introduced the sentimental hit song "My Dad" in a 1962 episode, specifically singing the tune to Betz. The series was a hit for ABC and aired for eight seasons from September 1958 to March 1966. During the run of the series, Betz continued acting in stage roles during the show's hiatus. In 1964, he appeared as Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon in a limited stage run of The Night of the Iguana, for which he earned excellent reviews.
After Donna Reed's cancellation, Betz returned to television roles and stage work. In 1967, producer Paul Monash offered Betz the role of defense lawyer Clinton Judd in the legal drama Judd, for the Defense. Monash had seen Betz's performance in Night of the Iguana in 1964 and was impressed with his acting. Betz initially thought the role was for a guest spot but soon realized Monash had proposed that he star in a new series. Betz initially had misgivings, stating "I did not want to do another series, you get bored", but eventually relented because he liked the scripts. The series, which premiered on ABC in September 1967, was praised by critics but struggled in the ratings. Shortly after ABC canceled the series in 1969, Betz won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series for his work on the series. He also made many guest appearances on a variety of popular television shows such as Mission: Impossible, The Mod Squad, Love, American Style, and Starsky and Hutch. One of his last roles was as General Douglas MacArthur in the one-man stage play I Shall Return.
Personal life and death[edit | edit source]
Betz was married twice and had one child. In June 1952 he married actress Lois Harmon with whom he had a son, Richard. The couple separated in May 1960 and divorced in 1961. In December 1963, Betz married Gloria Stone Martin, sister of actress Nita Talbot. Through his marriage to Martin, Betz had a stepdaughter, Rio. He and Gloria remained together for 15 years, until Carl's death.
In 1977, Betz was diagnosed with terminal and inoperable lung cancer. He kept his diagnosis private so he could keep working. On November 29, 1977, Betz entered Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He died seven weeks later, on January 18, 1978. His remains were cremated.
Broadway credits[edit | edit source]
|March 20–29, 1952||The Long Day||Lt. Dick Bennett|
Filmography[edit | edit source]
|1952||O. Henry's Full House||Jimmie Valentine - Prologue||Uncredited|
|1952||My Pal Gus||Mr. Nelson||Uncredited|
|1952||The President's Lady||Charles Dickinson|
|1953||Powder River||Loney Hogan|
|1953||Inferno||Lt. Mike Platt|
|1953||City of Bad Men||Deputy Phil Ryan|
|1953||Dangerous Crossing||John Bowman|
|1975||The Boy Who Talked to Badgers||Will MacDonald|
|1975||The Meal||Jake Matheson||Alternative title: Deadly Encounter|
|1975||The Lady from Peking||Max Foster||Alternative title: That Girl from Peking|
|1953||Your Jeweler's Showcase||Episode: "Lady's Choice"|
|1954||Waterfront||Dave Herrick||Episode: "The Skipper's Day"|
|1954||Kraft Television Theatre||Episode: "Party for Jonathan"|
|1954||The Big Story||Charles McKinney||Episode: "Charles McKinney of the Tulsa World"|
|1954||Robert Montgomery Presents||Episode: "Two Wise Woman"|
|1954-1955||Love of Life||Collie Jordan||Regular cast member|
|1956||I Spy||Episode: "Dishonored Hero"|
|1956||Appointment with Adventure||Walter Pollard||Episode: "Suburban Terror"|
|1956||Crusader||Inspector Alan Kingman||2 episodes|
|1957||The Alcoa Hour||Howard Miller||Episode: "No License to Kill"|
|1957||Gunsmoke||Nate Timble||Episode: "Gone Straight"|
|1957||Panic!||Co-Pilot Terry Blake||Episode: "The Airline Hostess"|
|1957||Sheriff of Cochise||Paul Sloan||Episode: "Statute of Limitations"|
|1958||Perry Mason||Dr. Ralph Chandler||Episode: "The Case of the Sun Bather's Diary"|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Jerome Stanton
|1958||The Silent Service||LCDR Roy Benson||Episode: "Mine for Keeps"|
|1958||Broken Arrow||Trent||Episode: "Jeopardy"|
|1958||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Butler Tilton||Episode: "A Detective Tail"|
|1958-1966||The Donna Reed Show||Dr. Alex Stone||272 episodes|
|1967-1969||Judd, for the Defense||Clinton Judd||50 episodes|
|1968||Premiere||Dr. Frank Chandler||Episode: "Crisis"|
|1969||Felony Squad||Clinton Judd||Episode: "The Law and Order Blues"|
|1969||The Monk||Danny Gouzenko||Television movie|
|1969||Love, American Style||John Fillmore||Segment: "Love and the Former Marriage"|
|1969-1971||The F.B.I.||Gar Shelton
|1970||Bracken's World||Jeffrey Harris||Episode: "Money Men"|
|1970||Medical Center||Jason Purcell||Episode: "The V.D. Story"|
|1970||McCloud||Aldon F. Flanders||Episode: "Who Says You Can't Make Friends in New York City?"|
|1970||Ironside||Jason Banning||Episode: "The Lonely Way to Go"|
|1970||Night Gallery||Dr. Max Redford||Segment: "The Dead Man"|
|1970-1972||Mission: Impossible||General Yuri Kozani
|1970-1974||Insight||Walter P. Hendricks
|1971||The Mod Squad||R.J. Coleman||Episode: "A Bummer for R.J."|
|1971||In Search of America||Ben Olson||Television movie|
|1971||The Deadly Dream||Dr. Howard Geary||Television movie|
|1972||Norman Corwin Presents||Episode: "The Joy of Living"|
|1972||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Arthur Bellamy||Episode: "The Endangered Species"|
|1972||The Streets of San Francisco||Jeff Williams||Episode: "The Bullet"|
|1973||Set This Town on Fire||Andy Wells||Television movie|
|1973||Barnaby Jones||Marshall Briggs||Episode: "Stand-In for Death"|
|1973||The Magician||Paul Ryerson||Episode: "Man on Fire"|
|1973||The New Adventures of Perry Mason||Clinton Exeter||Episode: "The Case of the Spurious Spouse"|
|1974||Killdozer!||Dennis Holvig||Television movie|
|1974||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Dr. Simon Bryant||Episode: "No Gods in Sight"|
|1975||The Daughters of Joshua Cabe Return||Will||Television movie|
|1975||The Wonderful World of Disney||Will MacDonald||2 episodes|
|1975||S.W.A.T.||Greg Colby||Episode: "Criss-Cross"|
|1975||Matt Helm||Purcell||Episode: "Think Murder"|
|1976||Starsky & Hutch||Father Ignatius||Episode: "Silence"|
|1976||Police Story||Chief Elliott||Episode: "Open City"|
|1976||Brinks: The Great Robbery||Paul Jackson||Television movie|
|1976||Jigsaw John||Episode: "Plastique"|
|1977||Most Wanted||Hill||Episode: "The Hit Men"|
|1977||Quincy, M.E.||Attorney Paul Barkley||Episode: "Hit and Run at Danny's"|
|1977||The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||Alex Richmond||Episode: "A Haunting We Will Go"|
|1977||Kingston: Confidential||Chaplain Potter||Episode: "The Cult", (final television appearance)|
Awards[edit | edit source]
|Year||Award||Category||Title of work|
|1969||Golden Globe Award||Best TV Star - Male||Judd, for the Defense|
|1969||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series||Judd, for the Defense|
References[edit | edit source]
- "The Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930", digital copy of original enumeration page for "Crafton burough", Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, April 23, 1930. FamilySearch, an online genealogical database provided as a public service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- "The Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940", digital copy of original enumeration page for Mt. Lebanon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, April , 1940. FamilySearch. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
- Erickson, Hal. "Carl Betz Biography", Rovi. Fandango. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
- "Name Winner of Scholarship". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 22, 1939. p. 13. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19390622&id=oZljAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fWkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1737,2937730. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- Cohen, Harold V. (April 11, 1968). "No Wonder Carl Betz Agrees With the Bard". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 26. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19680411&id=vNhaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=emwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6864,1862403. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "Carl Betz: A Look Back". Toledo Blade. May 14, 1986. pp. P–2. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19860514&id=YDFPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3AIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4864,6316070. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Thompson, Ruth (September 16, 1967). "Carl Betz Plays Lawyer In "Judd"". Gettysburg Times. p. 1. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19670916&id=kGwmAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lP8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=2575,4046096. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Actor Carl Betz Dying From Inoperable Cancer". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 5, 1978. p. 11. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19780105&id=gJxRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=L20DAAAAIBAJ&pg=2523,458796. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "Canceled TV Shows Garner Emmys". Lodi News-Sentinel. June 9, 1969. p. 9. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2245&dat=19690609&id=Yhw_AAAAIBAJ&sjid=Qk8MAAAAIBAJ&pg=6009,5950632. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "Show Business Couple To Split". Reading Eagle. October 1, 1961. p. 20. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&dat=19611001&id=sxArAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7JsFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6729,213265. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- Humphrey, Hal (February 2, 1964). "Donna's 'Dr. Stone' Falls Off the Wagon". The Victoria Advocate. p. 5. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=861&dat=19640202&id=dkBIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=l4EMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6628,211474. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "TV actor Carl Betz loses bout with cancer". The Day. January 19, 1978. p. 31. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1915&dat=19780119&id=RC0iAAAAIBAJ&sjid=B3MFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4046,2690112. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "Carl Betz, City Native, Actor, Dies". The Pittsburgh Press. January 19, 1978. p. A-5. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1144&dat=19780119&id=txkhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=91cEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5886,726818. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Category:Carl Betz.|
- Carl Betz at the Internet Broadway Database
- Carl Betz at the Internet Movie Database
- Carl Betz at AllMovie
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