Birth: 18 September 1914 (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)
Died: 23 May 2001 (Huntsville, Alabama, USA)
Film and TV Appearances: 177+
Years Active: 1949-1988
The Big Valley (1965-1969)
Harry Rhett Townes was born in Huntsville, Alabama on 18 September 1914. He attended the University of Alabama where he studied drama before moving to New York to study acting in his early 20s. After graduating from Columbia University (and appearing in summer stock), he began his acting career at the age of 22 in 1936 appearing on Broadway in the play Tobacco Road (as Captain Tim).
During World War II, Townes enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps where he served until he was discharged in 1946.
For the next few years, he appeared in a number of Broadway plays (most notably - Finian's Rainbow and Twelfth Night) before making his television debut in 1949 in the TV series The Magic Cottage where he appeared as Postman Pete for two years. For most of his acting career, the majority of his on-screen roles were on television.
Film and Television
Some of the films he appeared in were Operation Manhunt (1954); The Mountain (1956); The Brothers Karamazov (1958); Screaming Mimi (1958); Cry Tough (1959); Sanctuary (1961); Fitzwilly Strikes Back (1967); In Enemy Country (1968); Strategy of Terror (1969); Heaven with a Gun (1969); Master of the Islands (1970); Santee (1973); Angel of H.E.A.T (1983); The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984); and The Cheque is in the Post (1986).
TV movies and mini-series Townes appeared in were Destination Space (1959); The Yank (1960); The Fugitive (1963); Elizabeth the Queen (1968); The Andersonville Trial (1970); They Call It Murder (1971); The First Woman President (1974); The Immigrants (1978); The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979); Backstairs at the White House (1979); Casino (1980); and Condominium (1980).
Throughout his career, Townes guest starred on many TV shows with numerous appearances (over 200) on many of them. Television shows he appeared on included Tales of Tomorrow; Lux Video Theatre; Suspense; The Web; Inner Sanctum; Ponds Theater (5 episodes); Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Kraft Theatre (15 episodes); Climax! (9 episodes); Studio One in Hollywood (11 episodes); Wanted: Dead or Alive; The Twilight Zone; Route 66; Armstrong Circle Theatre (11 episodes); Rawhide; Perry Mason (5 episodes); The Fugitive (5 episodes); Felony Squad; Bonanza; Gunsmoke (7 episodes); Mannix; Ironside; Charlie's Angels; The Incredible Hulk; Falcon Crest; Quincy M.E.; Simon and Simon; and Valerie.
I guess we're never entirely happy with what we do; we would like to do better. I feel I was lucky to get the work that I did. You always feel thankful because there are so many actors for so few jobs that it seems God is being good to you when you get a job. Of course, I would have loved to have done better, we all would. But we always think we can do it better in one more take. On the whole, I'm satisfied, though. As long as the audience was satisfied, then I'm satisfied.— Harry Townes
In 1970, Townes began studies as Episcopalian (Anglican) minister and was ordained 16 March 1974. He served at the Church of the Bells in Palm Springs and St. Mary of the Angels Church in Hollywood before moving back to Huntsville in 1989 where he continued to serve until his death. During the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to act sporadically and in 1981 gained somewhat of a cult following after appearing in a two-part episode (The First) of The Incredible Hulk playing the role of Dell Frye.
Never married, Townes died on 23 May 2001 and was buried at Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville.