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James Wilkes Noble (March 5, 1922 – March 28, 2016) was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of sweet-natured, naive Governor Eugene X. Gatling on ABC's 1979–86 sitcom Benson.[1]

James Noble
Born(1922-03-05)March 5, 1922
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
DiedMarch 28, 2016(2016-03-28) (aged 94)
Years active1950–2011
Carolyn Coates
(m. 1956; died 2005)

Life and careerEdit

Noble was born in Dallas, Texas, the son of Lois Frances (née Wilkes) and Ralph Byrne Noble.[2] He studied acting and engineering at Southern Methodist University before leaving to serve in the United States Navy during World War II.[3]

Returning from the war, Noble studied acting under Lee Strasberg and made appearances in Broadway theatre, and his television career started in soap operas, such as The Brighter Day, As the World Turns, The Doctors and A World Apart. His big screen roles included: Reverend John Witherspoon in the film version of the Broadway musical 1776 (1972); assorted roles as doctors in films such as One Summer Love (1976), 10 (1979) and Promises in the Dark (1979); Kaufman, the president's chief of staff, in Being There (1979); Father O'Flanagan in the comedy sequel Airplane II: The Sequel (1982); Sinclair in A Tiger's Tale (1987); Chief Wilkins in the comedy Paramedics (1988) and Dr. Bailey in Chances Are (1989). He was also the spokesman in various commercials for Pepto-Bismol in the 1970s.

In 2005, he co-founded Open the Gate Pictures with actress Colleen Murphy, and produced and starred in the short film Glacier Bay which won several awards at film festivals in the United States. Noble played the live action version of Archie Comics character Hiram Lodge in the movie, Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (1990).

Personal lifeEdit

Noble was married to actress Carolyn Coates from 1956 until her death in 2005.[3] They had one child, a daughter.

Noble had lived with his family in Leonia, New Jersey before moving to California in 1980.[4]


Noble died on March 28, 2016, twenty-three days after his 94th birthday, in Connecticut. A spokesman for Noble's family said that the actor had suffered a stroke the week before his death.[1][3]


Year Title Role Notes
1968 What's So Bad About Feeling Good? Board Member Uncredited
1971 The Sporting Club Canon Pritchard
1971 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me
1972 1776 Rev. John Witherspoon (NJ)
1974 Who? General Deptford
1976 One Summer Love Dr. Lee
1976 Death Play Norman
1979 10 Dr. Miles
1979 Promises in the Dark Dr. Blankenship
1979 Being There Kaufman
1982 Airplane II: The Sequel Father O'Flanagan
1987 A Tiger's Tale Sinclair
1987 You Talkin' to Me? Peter Archer
1988 Paramedics Chief Wilkins
1989 Chances Are Dr. Bailey
1995 Bang Rooftop Dealer
2011 Fake Mssr. Rousseau


  1. ^ a b Hipes, Patrick. "James Noble Dies: 'Benson' Governor Was 94". Deadline. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  2. ^ Profile,; accessed March 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Stack, Liam (March 29, 2016). "James Noble, Absent-Minded Governor on 'Benson,' Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  4. ^ Staff. "James Noble: A Relaxed and Clever Actor", The Daily Union Democrat, February 27, 1980. Accessed May 12, 2016. "But the family still is in the process of becoming accustomed to living in California after moving from their permanent home in Leonia, N.J., which they've rented out."

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