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Claude Marion Akins (May 25, 1926 – January 27, 1994) was an American character actor with a long career on stage, screen, and television. Powerful in appearance and voice, Akins could be counted on to play the clever (or less than clever) tough guy, on the side of good or bad, in movies and television. He is remembered as Sheriff Lobo on the 1970s television series B. J. and the Bear, and later The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, a spin-off series.

Claude Akins
Claude Aikins.jpg
Born Claude Marion Akins
(1926-05-25)May 25, 1926
Nelson, Georgia, U.S.
Died January 27, 1994(1994-01-27) (aged 67)
Altadena, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1953–1992
Spouse(s) Therese Fairfield (1952–1994; his death)
Children 3

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Akins was born in Nelson, Georgia, and grew up in Bedford, Indiana, the son of Maude and Ernest Akins.[1] He served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II in Burma and the Philippines.

After the war, he graduated in 1949 from Northwestern University, where he had majored in Theatre[2] and became a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

Film careerEdit

As a film actor, Akins first appeared in From Here to Eternity (1953). He appeared as a seaman and shipmate of Lee Marvin in The Caine Mutiny (1954). He portrayed prisoner Joe Burdette in Rio Bravo (starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin and Angie Dickinson), Naval Lt. Commander Farber in Don't Give Up the Ship (starring Jerry Lewis), Sgt Kolowicz in Merrill's Marauders, Rockwell W. "Rocky" Rockman in The Devil's Brigade, the Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the movie Inherit the Wind (1960), outlaw Ben Lane in Comanche Station that same year, Seely Jones in A Distant Trumpet (1964), and the gorilla leader Aldo in Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), the last original Apes movie.

He had a small part in The Sea Chase with John Wayne. He appeared with Yul Brynner and Robert Fuller in the film Return of the Seven (1966) (also called Return of the Magnificent Seven and The Magnificent Seven 2), and also appeared in the movie Seasons of the Heart (1993).

TelevisionEdit

Akins was cast in a large number of television series, including The Adventures of Superman (episode number 69, "Peril by Sea"), in which he plays a villainous conspirator, Crusader, and I Love Lucy in which he portrays himself. Much of his work was on westerns, including Frontier, My Friend Flicka (three times), Boots and Saddles, Northwest Passage, The Restless Gun (four times), Sheriff of Cochise, Wagon Train (four times), Overland Trail, Frontier Circus, The Tall Man, The Rebel, The Big Valley, Daniel Boone, The Legend of Jesse James, Death Valley Days, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre (four times), The Rifleman (three times), Rawhide, Gunsmoke (10 times), Bonanza (four times), The Alaskans (twice) and The Texan (twice).

He appeared once on Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Empire, Laredo ("The Treasure of San Diablo"), the syndicated series, Pony Express (in "The Story of Julesburg" with Sebastian Cabot and James Best), and The Oregon Trail, with Rod Taylor. He was cast as Jarret Sutton in "Escape to Memphis" (1959) and as Beaudry Rawlins in "Duel on the River" (1960) on Darren McGavin's NBC series, Riverboat.

Akins played a rodeo clown convicted of armed robbery in "Killer on Horseback", an episode of the NBC anthology series Star Stage, which became the pilot episode for the syndicated police drama State Trooper, starring Rod Cameron. The episode was later broadcast on the regular series as "Rodeo Rough House". Beverly Garland also appeared in the episode as Nellie Austin, a sharpshooter.[3] Akins and Garland much later appeared together in the 1963 episode "The Chooser of the Slain" on the ABC/Warner Bros. Western series, The Dakotas.[4]

Among Akins' four appearances on NBC's Laramie with series stars John Smith and Robert Fuller was the role of former Sheriff Jim Dark in the episode "Queen of Diamonds" (September 20, 1960), with Julie London as Dark's estranged wife, a card dealer using the name "June Brown." Dark had foiled a robbery by the Reeves brothers, one of whom was killed, but his right hand was severely injured, and he could no longer handle a gun. June avoided her husband for his own protection when the outlaw brothers pursued them. Clem Reeves was portrayed by Tony Young, later cast as "Cord" in the short-lived Gunslinger series on CBS. Ultimately, the gang was captured, and the Darks were reconciled, leaving Laramie by stagecoach.[5]

Akins was featured in two episodes of the original CBS series The Twilight Zone (i.e., "The Little People" and "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"). He guest-starred in three episodes each of Combat! (4th and 5th seasons) and The Untouchables. He appeared on Rod Cameron's early syndicated series, City Detective, Meet McGraw with Frank Lovejoy, the ABC/WB drama, The Roaring 20's, and Police Story.[citation needed]

In 1960, he and Marty Ingels appeared as themselves in the episode "Amateur Night" in NBC's short-lived crime drama Dan Raven, starring Skip Homeier; the series was set on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood.[citation needed]

Akins' other early appearances included a role as a policeman on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in "Place of Shadows" (1956) and "Reward to Finder" (1957). Akins played another television cop, good-natured Sheriff's Detective Phillip Dix, in the first season of the Perry Mason in "The Case of the Half-Wakened Wife" (Episode 1-26) that aired March 15, 1958. He was in a first-season episode of Maverick titled "Burial Ground of the Gods" (1958) that starred Jack Kelly. In 1965, Akins played El Supremo in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." episode, The Very Important Zombie Affair. In 1967, Akins played Lt. Finch in The Lucy Show episode, "Lucy Meets the Law", as he interrogates Lucy as a grand larceny suspect. Lucy is eventually cleared of the crime when the actual redhead confesses to it.[citation needed]

Akins was cast as Lou Myerson in the 1964 episode, "One Monday Afternoon", of the NBC education drama series, Mr. Novak, starring James Franciscus and as Dr. Roy Kirk in an episode of the CBS Political Drama, Slattery's people, (Which starred Richard Crenna.) "When Do they Hang the Good Samaritan?" Dr. Kirk's sister Lucrezia was played by Barbara Eden. In 1965, he was featured in an episode of Kraft Suspense Theater, playing a German infiltrator who went unsuspected. Also that year, Akins gave a memorable performance as the head of an Irish immigrant family in The Big Valley ("The Brawlers").[citation needed]

Before his signature character Sheriff Lobo, Akins appeared as owner-operator trucker Sonny Pruitt in NBC's Movin' On, from 1974-76, with Frank Converse. Akins starred in over 40 episodes of Movin' On plus a made-for-TV movie "In Tandem." He also starred as a Nashville police detective named Stoney Huff, in a short-lived hour-long crime drama (cancelled after four episodes) in April 1977 called Nashville 99. Akins' best-known role of Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo had begun as a recurring character on the television series B.J. and the Bear.[citation needed] After becoming a recognizable name in the late 1970s, Akins did testimonial TV commercials for PoliGrip, Rollins Truck Leasing and AAMCO Transmissions.[citation needed]

Akins found work in the late 1980s lending his voice talents to the work safety instructional video series, Safety Shorts, in which he expounded the virtues of workplace safety to thousands of industrial employees, offering lessons on the importance of lockout/tagout procedures, personal protective equipment, and the MSDS documentation process. Akins made a golfing video with Ron Masak, entitled Tom Kite and Friends.[citation needed]

DeathEdit

Akins died of stomach cancer[6] in Pasadena, California. He was thought to have been born in 1918, making his age at death 75; however, Akins' son said his father was born in 1926.[citation needed]

LegacyEdit

The Claude Akins Memorial Golf Classic, a six-person scramble-format golf tournament, takes place at Otis Park Golf Course in Bedford, Indiana in August or September of each year.

Proceeds from the event go to the Akins Scholarship and the Bedford Recreation Foundation Scholarship, given every year to a graduating senior at Bedford North Lawrence High School, as well as many projects involving recreation and improvements.

Partial filmographyEdit

TelevisionEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ MALNIC, ERIC (28 January 1994). "Claude Akins, Tough Guy of TV and Films, Dies at 75 : Celebrities: Actor starred in series 'Movin' On,' 'Lobo.' He called himself Hollywood's highest-paid unknown". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 5 June 2018. 
  2. ^ "University Archives: Libraries - Northwestern University". Library.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 5 June 2018. 
  3. ^ ""Rodeo Rough House", State Trooper, February 3, 1956". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ ""The Chooser of the Slain", The Dakotas, April 22, 1963". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Laramie: "Queen of Diamonds", September 20, 1960". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ "CLAUDE AKINS, GENIAL, RUGGED ACTOR, DIES". Washingtonpost.com. January 28, 1994. Retrieved June 5, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Lovely Alibi". IMDb.com. 20 February 1959. Retrieved 5 June 2018. 

External linksEdit