Born in New York City he began
acting as a child on stage in the city of his birth and in off-Broadway
productions in his early teens. Eventually Dobkin attended Yale Drama School
where he roomed with another future director, Richard Fleischer.
There he began working in radio to pay for his studies. He understudied on
Broadway before serving with a radio propaganda unit of the Air Force during
World War II.
"The Saint" (NBC-Radio, 1945 to CBS-Radio to Mutual and back to NBC-Radio, 1951) the doings of super-sleuth Simon Templar in which Dobkin played "Louie", Simon's cab-driver. There were five radio "Saints"... with Barry Sullivan and Vincent Price probably being the best-known. While playing Louie, he was asked to step into the lead role of Simon Templar to replace Tom Conway for a single episode — making Dobkin one of the few actors to portray Leslie Charteris' literary creation.
Dobkin began a prolific career in television in
1946, having worked as an actor, narrator and director. He appeared in an
episode of the early syndicated series The Silent Service, based on true
stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy.
In 1948 NBC-Radio tried something that had never been done before. It offered its listeners a dramatic anthology which included great works of fiction that would allow for the receipt of college credits. It was called "The NBC University Theater" and stayed on the air until February of 1951. Dobkin was part of the cast that included the best actors that both films and radio could offer with movie stars like Angela Lansbury, Herbert Marshall and David Niven, among others along with radio stars Lou Merrill, Paul Frees, John Dehner and many more. Dobkin was in several episodes of "Romance" (CBS,1943-57) a charming anthology with a romantic bent that was beautifully written, directed and acted but never seemed to be able to find its proper niche on the air. As a result it was heard sporadically sometimes off the air for weeks or months at a time and could never build up the firm listening audience it so well deserved.
Dobkin was also a cast member of "The Green Lama" (CBS-Radio, 6/5-8/20/49) another very short-lived adventure series with Paul Frees starring as an American who spends ten years in Tibet developing special powers then returns home to use his gifts to fight crime.
In a switch, Dobkin was the announcer for the adventure series "Rocky Jordan" (CBS-Radio, 1948-50) which told the story of a young American who owned a cafe in Cairo, Egypt and wanted nothing more than to run his little establishment in peace and quiet but gets so involved in other people's affairs that he turns detective Jack Moyles starred. Larry Dobkin starred as one of four "Archies" the great detective's right-hand-man in "The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe" (NBC-Radio, 1950-51) in which the wonderful Sydney Greenstreet growls his way victoriously through the solving of the crime and still manages to stay at home and dine on gourmet meals.
Dobkin was "Dave the sergeant" in yet another "shortie"... the police drama "The Man From Homicide" (ABC-Radio, 6/25-10/01/51) with Dan Duryea as policeman "Lou Dana".
"Rogers of the Gazette" (CBS-Radio, 1953-54) of which Dobkin was a cast member starred Will Rogers, Jr. as "Will Rogers", editor of a small-town Georgia newspaper. Though the series was never actually accused of having based his character on Rogers' late, brilliant stage star/screen star/comic/philosopher/cowboy/roper/author/columnist who "never met a man he didn't like" father there was a marked resemblance between the two. Dobkin was also part of "Nightbeat" (NBC-Radio, 1950-52) which starred Frank Lovejoy in a crime drama that leaned heavily on human interest namely being about a reporter who cared about people who were down and out through no fault of their own, so he tried to help them as best he could. It was a superb series with an equally superb supporting cast consisting of the best names in the radio acting business such as Ted de Corsia (Velie!), Lurene Tuttle, Howard McNear and Lovejoy's own real-life wife Joan Banks among the ones contributing their talents to the show. Dobkin also was in the supporting cast of the detective series "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar" (CBS-Radio, 1950-62) in the role of "Pat McCracken" the man who gives Johnny his assignments.
In the 1957-1958 television season, he played a director on the CBS sitcom, "Mr. Adams and Eve", starring Howard Duff and Ida Lupino as fictitious married actors residing in Beverly Hills, California. In 1960, he appeared as Kurt Reynolds in "So Dim the Light" of the CBS anthology series, The DuPont Show with June Allyson.
Dobkin played in the vastly under-rated "Frontier Gentleman" (CBS,
2/2-11/16/58) "... an Englishman's account of life and death in"... the early
days of... "the American West.... " John Dehner starred in a well-written and
-acted series that, unfortunately, went on the air during the declining days of
radio and the ascension of television.
In the 1960's Dobkin turned his attention to writing and directing with an
occasional movie thrown in. Since he did not have typical movie star "looks"
(being quite bald and not overly muscle-bound) in films he was mostly cast as a
villain. Though in the now-classic sci-fi thriller "The Day the Earth Stood
Still" (1951) he played a psychiatrist trying
to figure out the whys and wherefores of an alien visitor from outer space
called "Klaatu". He appeared in George C. Scott's tour de force "Patton"
and in another film, he, himself, portrayed the good General. He had a
supporting role in "Julius Caesar" and appeared in Cecil B. De Mille's
epic "The Ten Commandments" that starred Charlton Heston as Moses. His
first major screen credit was for a role in "Never Fear" in 1950. He is
remembered for his (uncredited) role of the kindly and soft-spoken Rabbi in the
original and touching "Angels in the Outfield" (1951)
Bing Crosby had an uncredited cameo in the film as did baseball greats Ty Cobb
and Joe DiMaggio.
On television Larry Dobkin was in many series mostly in supporting roles. But a major one was that of mass murderer Gregory Praxas in a 1972 pilot film for "Streets of San Francisco". Dobkin appeared in several "I Love Lucy" shows. He was real-life murderer "Dutch" Schultz on "The Untouchables". He was in the heart-warming and bucolic "The Waltons", "The Adventures of Superman", "L.A. Law", "CBS Playhouse" (and received an Emmy nomination for supporting role in their 1967 production of "Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night"), "The Rifleman", "Ford Theater" and numerous others, including "77 Sunset Strip". Several of the "Strip's" episodes were directed by him.
Dobkin wrote for "Charlie's Angels", "Tarzan", "The Life and Time of Grizzly Adams", a highly-successful TV series "The Rifleman" and others. He and another actor, Andrew Robinson, have the distinction of being the only ones to have both acted in and directed episodes of "Star Trek". Dobkin also performed as Klingon Ambassador Kell in "Star Trek".
As to his TV directing duties, to
name a few: the aforementioned "Star Trek"
(TOS: Charlie X) , 17 of "The
Waltons", 10 of "77 Sunset Strip",
"Freebie and the Bean", "Dynasty",
"Barnaby Jones", "The Munsters",
"The Big Valley", "You Are There",
"Cannon", "Fantasy Island" (da
plane! da plane!!!). "The Mod Squad"... 137
episodes of that fine series "The Naked City" and many, many more.
"The few of us who are left,..." Dobkin said of his radio days not long before he died, "...keep telling each other that we never had it so good."
(2) May 26. 2007 Old Time Radio column by the late Betsy W (Betsy Weinberg)
(3) Radio of Yesteryear Biography
(5) Radio Spirits
Additional video & audio sources
(1) Playhouse 90 "The Plot To Kill Stalin" (October 2, 1958)
(2) The DuPont Show with June Allyson: So Dim The Light (1960)
(3) Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
(4) Dream Away Commercial (1984)
Page first published on Mar 10. 2013
Last updated July 20, 2016
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