He found out about Drama School during his Broadway debut, initially he got a small role in Blood on the Moon by George Sklar but had to take over the lead from Alexander Scourby. His director said "'Go to my school. It's the best school I know of. At Yale University. It's the Graduate School of Drama. See if you can get in there. You'll get a better education there."
After several tries a much too young Dobkin attended Yale Drama School where he roomed with another future director, Richard Fleischer.
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.
When Dobkin was replaced by Howard Culver in 1948 Dobkin said "When I was replaced as the voice of Ellery Queen, nobody gave me any notice. They just told me not to come back next week. They never told me why. I had done it for two years. ..."
Playing Ellery Queen on both Coasts helped him gain access to acting jobs on Hollywood-based radio series.
"Television was on the verge of taking over. We were quoting Fred Allen's line about TV, 'If you don't look at it, it'll go away.' And we were still doing a 'live repeat' some three hours later for the East Coast. The network was avoiding recording the show for reasons of their own. That is, they were avoiding 'playing' the recording. I learned that when I slept through the repeat time and phoned the station in a panic, only to be told that they 'played the recording.' " (Dobkin in The Sound of Detection, 2002)
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.
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. So when Dobkin seemed to vanish from the big and small screen in the mid-60’s it was a shift behind the camera to a very successful career as a TV director.
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.
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) Clip
(2) The DuPont Show with June Allyson: So Dim The Light (1960)
(3) Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
(4) Dream Away Commercial (1984)
(5) Lawrence Dobkin On Auditioning For Jack Webb The Wallbreakers Soundcloud - audioclip
|This actor profile is a part of the Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Ellery Queen in an Ellery Queen radio series. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!|
Page first published on Mar 10. 2013
Last updated Jul 17, 2021
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