Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dabbs Greer: The Man Behind The Role of Reverend Robert Alden

Dabbs Greer was born April 2, 1917 in Fairview, Mo, but would soon settle in a small town of Anderson, Missouri with his family while an infant. His father operated a drug store in town, while his mother was a speech therapist. When asked about his hometown in an interview with Neosho Daily News he said, “Growing up there was like growing up anywhere else. When you’re a kid, you really don’t think much about it, you live day to day. I still have some good memories of the place, and I’ve never called any other place home, although I’ve lived in California for 50 years. One thing about a small town like Anderson is you get to know people intimately. You can’t do that in a big city. It was a beautiful city then, and it’s still beautiful. We would fish, have adventures, just do the things that boys do in a rural community.” The town celebrates Dabbs Greer’s accomplishments as a successful actor with “Dabbs Greer Days” that started in October 2004.

The acting bug hit Dabbs Greer when he was eight years old when he got his first acting experience on stage for a children’s theater production. After graduating from Anderson High School, Dabbs pursued his education and attended Drury College in Springfield, Mo. where he earned a bachelor’s degree. After graduating college, he served as head of the drama department at Mountain Grove High School from 1940 to 1943. After teaching, Dabbs went to Pasadena, where he was offered a job at the community playhouse. Dabbs was at the Pasadena Playhouse for seven years, leaving it for a career in films.

Dabbs Greer made his film debut in the 1938 20th Century Fox production of “Jesse James,” which was filmed in Pineville. In his interview with the Neosho Daily News in 2002 he said about his first picture, “Just like everybody else in the county, the folks at 20th Century Fox didn’t realize this, but that picture really put McDonald County on the map. And they were paying $5 a day — a day! — to local people for being extras. That was really good money in those days, more money than most of us had seen in a long time. That picture was beneficial for the whole area.”
Dabbs Greer has appeared in almost 100 movies spanning over 5 decades, and with almost 200 TV guest appearances.
Dabbs Greer first appeared on TV in pilot episode of “The Adventures of Superman” in September 1952. Some of Dabbs most famous roles are his sci-fi films of the 1950’s with movies like, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956) — “It ! The Terror from Beyond Space” (1958) — “The Giant Claw” (1957) and “The Vampire” (1957).

On television, Dabbs appeared in several classic TV shows such as, “The Twilight Zone,” and three appearances on “The Untouchables,” “How to Marry a Millionaire”, “Picket Fences,” and “Gunsmoke.” Dabbs also appeared in the pilot of “The Brady Bunch” in 1969 marrying Mike and Carol Brady who would later reprise that role in the adult version of the “The Brady Bunch” in the 1990 series “The Brady’s” marrying Mike and Carol Brady’s youngest son, Bobby.

Dabbs Greer will probably be best remembered by fans for his role as the loveable Reverend Robert Alden on Michael Landon’s “Little House on the Prairie.” Dabbs Greer loved his role and always spoke highly of the show and its cast in interviews over the years. In weeks before his passing some of the cast of “Little House on the Prairie” visited with Dabbs to celebrate his 90th birthday. Susan McCray, casting director for “Little House on the Prairie” and friend of Dabbs Greer had the following to say about his work and passing, “We are all saddened by the passing of our beloved Revered Alden but he will live on in our hearts forever. He had a great impact on those who were and are fans of “Little House on the Prairie” Michael never ceased to be emotionally affected by his dramatic scenes as we all were. Dabbs had an incredible career and lived a joyous life. We will miss him terribly.”

Dabbs Greer never married and had no survivors, but fans will miss him, and he will indeed be thought of offten. In television series, and films usually the lead actor receives most of the credit. However, it is often said that the little actor who isn’t the lead is who makes the television series, and films enjoyable to watch, and with Dabbs Greer he is indeed one of our favorite character actors whose work and talent will live on for years to come making new fans everywhere and most of all, keeping people smiling thanks to television.

1 comment:

  1. We loved seeing Dabbs in episodes of the recently DVD released Fugitive series. He was a wonderful actor in so many movies and on TV. Your last paragraph is so true. Dabbs Greer was one of those actors. He made his mark.

    thanks for an interesting read, G