Dabbs Greer, a character actor who often was cast as television's
everyman, and who was best known for playing the Rev. Robert Alden on
"Little House on the Prairie," has died. He was 90.
Greer, who had been battling kidney and heart disease, died Saturday
at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, said his neighbor Bill Klukken.
His career spanned more than a half-century and included roles in
almost 100 films and about 600 television episodes.
In addition to running the Walnut Grove church on "Little House,"
which aired from 1974 to 1983, Greer had recurring TV roles as
storekeeper Mr. Jonus on "Gunsmoke" from 1955 to 1960; a coach on
"Hank" in the mid-1960s; a minister on "Picket Fences" in the 1990s;
and a grumpy grandfather on "Maybe It's Me" from 2001-2002.
On "The Adventures of Superman," Greer dangled from a dirigible and
appeared to be rescued midair by the Man of Steel in the 1952 pilot
episode. He also was the minister who married Mike and Carol Brady in
1969 on "The Brady Bunch."
He debuted on the big-screen in 1949 in an uncredited part in "Reign
"His surface normality served as excellent contrast to the
extraterrestrial goings-on in 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (1956)
and 'It! The Terror From Beyond Space' (1958)," according to the
online database All Movie Guide.
In his final film, "The Green Mile" (1999) Greer - then 82 - took over
the role of prison guard Paul Edgecomb when the character became too
old for Tom Hanks to realistically play. Previously, Greer had been a
prison guard opposite Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning role in
1958's "I Want to Live!"
He was born Robert William Greer on April 2, 1917, in Fairview, Mo.,
to a druggist and his wife, who taught elocution. An only child, he
grew up in Anderson, Mo., and at 8 began acting in children's stage
After earning a bachelor's degree in 1939 from Drury University in
Springfield, Mo., Greer headed a Missouri school system's speech and
drama department, Klukken said.
In 1943, he moved to Pasadena, where he lived the rest of his life.
He became an administrator and teacher at the Pasadena Playhouse
theater school, often acting opposite students and directing more than
50 plays. Professionally, he started using Dabbs - his mother's maiden
name - as his first name.
Greer left the playhouse in 1950 to pursue acting full time and began
playing a series of small-town good guys whose personalities were not
far from Greer's own, Klukken said.
Greer never married and had no survivors.
Of a career built mainly on supporting parts, Greer told the Albany,
N.Y., Times Union in 2000: "Every character actor, in their own little
sphere, is the lead."
By Valerie J. Nelson, Times Staff Writer
May 1, 2007