Bert Freed

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Bert Freed
Bert Freed.gif
Freed in The Snows of Kilimanjaro , 1952
Born(1919-11-03)November 3, 1919
DiedAugust 2, 1994(1994-08-02) (aged 74)
Years active1947–1986
Spouse(s)Nancy Lee (1956–1994) (his death) (2 children)
ChildrenJennifer, Carl, Andrew Sutton (stepson)

Bert Freed (November 3, 1919 – August 2, 1994) was an American character actor, voice-over actor, and the first actor to portray Detective Columbo.


Voice-over is a production technique where a voice—that is not part of the narrative (non-diegetic)—is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations. The voiceover is read from a script and may be spoken by someone who appears elsewhere in the production or by a specialist voice talent. Synchronous dialogue, where the voiceover is narrating the action that is taking place at the same time, remains the most common technique in voiceovers. Asynchronous, however, is also used in cinema. It is usually prerecorded and placed over the top of a film or video and commonly used in documentaries or news reports to explain information. Voiceovers are used in video games and on-hold messages, as well as for announcements and information at events and tourist destinations. It may also be read live for events such as award presentations.


Life and career

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Freed began acting while attending Penn State University, [1] and made his Broadway debut in 1942. Following World War II Army service in the European theatre, he appeared in the Broadway musical The Day Before Spring in 1945 and dozens of television shows between 1947 and 1985. His film debut occurred, oddly enough, in a musical Carnegie Hall (1947).

<i>The Day Before Spring</i> musical

The Day Before Spring is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.

Carnegie Hall concert hall in New York City

Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east side of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.

Freed portrayed Rufe Ryker in the television series Shane , [2] in which Freed added a unique touch of realism by beginning the show clean-shaven and growing a beard from one week to the next, never shaving again through the season. [ citation needed ]

<i>Shane</i> (TV series) US TV series

Shane is an American Western television series aired in 1966 and based on the 1949 book of the same name by Jack Schaefer. The series starred David Carradine as the title character, a former gun fighter and sometimes outlaw who takes on work as a hired-hand at the ranch of a widowed woman, her son, and her father. The series, which aired on ABC, was filmed as a continuing story.

Freed played homicide detective Lt. Columbo in a live 1960 television episode of The Chevy Mystery Show seven years before Peter Falk played the role, and also before Thomas Mitchell portrayed the eccentric police detective on stage prior to the Falk version. He made four guest appearances on Perry Mason , including the role of Ken Woodman in the 1960 episode, "The Case of the Treacherous Toupee"; murder victim Joe Marshall in the 1964 episode, "The Case of the Ruinous Road"; and Carl Holman, whose wife is the murderer in the 1962 episode "The Case of the Poison Pen-Pal."

Columbo (character) fictional detective

Columbo or Lieutenant Columbo is the eponymous main character in the successful detective crime drama series Columbo. The character is a shrewd but inelegant blue-collar homicide detective whose trademarks include his shambling manner, rumpled beige raincoat and off-putting, relentless investigative approach.

The Chevy Mystery Show, aka Sunday Mystery Hour, is an American television anthology series featuring a different mystery each week. It was produced by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and Dinah Shore's production company {Sewanee}, and aired on NBC in 1960 as a summer replacement for The Dinah Shore Chevy Show with Walter Slezak as host. It was re-run the following summer in 1961, with Vincent Price as host.

Peter Falk American actor

Peter Michael Falk was an American actor, known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the long-running television series Columbo (1968–2003), for which he won four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award (1973). He first starred as Columbo in two 90-minute TV pilots; the first with Gene Barry in 1968 and the second with Lee Grant in 1971. The show then aired as part of The NBC Mystery Movie series from 1971 to 1978, and again on ABC from 1989 to 2003.

He appeared (sometimes more than once) in many other television shows such as The Rifleman , Laramie , Bonanza , The High Chaparral , Gunsmoke , The Big Valley , The Virginian , Mannix , Barnaby Jones , Charlie's Angels , Then Came Bronson , Run For Your Life , Get Smart , The Lucy Show , Hogan's Heroes , Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea , Dr. Kildare , Ben Casey , Combat! , Petticoat Junction , The Outer Limits , Alfred Hitchcock Presents , Route 66 , Ironside , The Green Hornet , The Munsters , The Untouchables , and many others. He directed one episode of T.H.E. Cat .

<i>The Rifleman</i> American Western television program

The Rifleman is an American Western television program starring Chuck Connors as rancher Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son Mark McCain. It was set in the 1870s and 1880s in the fictional town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. The show was filmed in black and white, in half-hour episodes. The Rifleman aired on ABC from September 30, 1958, to April 8, 1963, as a production of Four Star Television. It was one of the first prime time series on US television to show a single parent raising a child.

<i>Laramie</i> (TV series) TV series

Laramie is an American Western television series that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1963. A Revue Studios production, the program originally starred John Smith as Slim Sherman; Robert Fuller as Jess Harper; Hoagy Carmichael as Jonesy; and Robert L. Crawford, Jr. as Andy Sherman. Actress Spring Byington was later added to the cast. STARZ!'s Westerns Channel and the Grit network began airing the series in July 2015.

<i>Bonanza</i> 1959-1973 American western/cowboy television series

Bonanza is an NBC television western series that ran from 1959 to 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 431 episodes, Bonanza is NBC's longest-running western, and ranks overall as the second-longest-running western series on U.S. network television, and within the top 10 longest-running, live-action American series. The show continues to air in syndication. The show is set in the 1860s and it centers on the wealthy Cartwright family that live in the vicinity of Virginia City, Nevada, bordering Lake Tahoe. The series initially starred Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, and Michael Landon and later featured Guy Williams, David Canary, Mitch Vogel, and Tim Matheson. The show is known for presenting pressing moral dilemmas.

Freed appeared as a racist club owner in No Way Out (1950), Private Slattery in Halls of Montezuma (1951), the Police Chief in Invaders From Mars (1953), Sgt. Boulanger in Paths of Glory (1957), the hangman in Hang 'Em High (1968), Max's father in Wild in the Streets (1968), as Chief of Detectives in Madigan (1968), a homosexual prison guard in There Was a Crooked Man... (1970) and Bernard's father in Billy Jack (1971) in which he got "whumped" on the side of the face by Billy Jack's right foot "just for the hell of it." [ citation needed ]

<i>No Way Out</i> (1950 film) 1950 film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

No Way Out is a 1950 black-and-white American film noir directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and starring Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Stephen McNally and Sidney Poitier, who portrays a doctor tending to slum residents whose ethics are tested when confronted with racism, personified by Richard Widmark as the hateful robber Ray Biddle.

<i>Invaders from Mars</i> (1953 film) 1953 film by William Cameron Menzies

Invaders from Mars is a 1953 independently made American SuperCinecolor science fiction film, produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr., directed by William Cameron Menzies, that stars Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. The film was distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.

<i>Paths of Glory</i> 1957 Anti-war film directed by Stanley Kubrick

Paths of Glory is a 1957 American anti-war film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack, after which Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

Later years and death

He retired from acting in 1986, and died of a heart attack in Sechelt, British Columbia, in 1994 while on a fishing trip with his son.

Selected filmography

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  1. "Veteran actor Bert Freed dead at 74". The Daily Gazette. August 6, 1994. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  2. Crosby, Joan (November 6, 1966). "Series Gives 'Hey, You' Actor a Name". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Texas, Corpus Christi. Newspaper Enterprise Association. p. 73. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg