Little House on Prairie's Dabbs Greer
Robert William Dabbs Greer
Born Robert William Greer on April 2, 1917. He was born in Fairview, Missouri. “Robert” being one grandfather’s name and “William” the other grandfather‘s name. His Father, Randall Alexander Greer, was a Pharmacist and his mother was Bernice Irene Greer, a speech therapist. As an infant Robert was moved to Anderson, Missouri. Robert was their only child.
He became known in his youth as “Billy Bob.” If you ask anyone who knew him in his childhood they will always convert his name back to “Billy Bob.” “Billy Bob” was his name when he began acting on stage at the Children’s Theatre at the age of eight. It was as “Billy Bob” that he began his acting career. He was an extra in the 1938 version of the film Jesse James. This version was filmed in Pineville, Missouri. He then went to Drury College and headed the drama department and developed the Little Theatre in Mountain Grove, Missouri (1940 - 1943.) He left Missouri not because he was unhappy or the money, but because he was frustrated with getting his students only so far then would have to start over again.
He took a position at the Pasadena Playhouse as actor, instructor and administrator hoping that he would have more time in each students education (1943 - 1950.) He ended his time at the Playhouse because he still had the same frustration. It was during this time of his life that he became known as “Dabbs” Greer. He took the name “Dabbs” because it was his mother’s maiden name.
Reverend Robert Alden
Greer’s acting career spanned fifty years in supporting roles in film and television. His most famous role was Reverend Robert Alden on the series “Little House on the Prairie.” He was responsible for a couple of other important marriages in his acting career. He was the Reverend who married Rob and Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” He also married Mike and Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch.”
Having performed so many wedding as an actor, he never stood before a Reverend or tied the knot throughout his life. He chose to remain single.
He was in films many would remember such as; 1952 version of The Adventures of Superman, 1957 version of How to Marry a Millionaire, 1957 of My Man Godfrey, 1978 version of The Incredible Hulk, 1999 version of The Green Mile and more. His last television performance was 2003 episode of Lizzie McGuire.
Every Character Actor, in their own sphere, is a Lead
He had an outstanding career with seventy stage plays, one hundred feature films, eighty three titles in filmography, and five hundred, eighty nine television episodes. His genres’ were westerns, dramas, comedies, and action films. TCM named him “the world’s best character actor.” A quote he is noted for is “Every character Actor, in their own sphere, is a lead.” His career followed this quote for he played his roles like he was the lead.
More to the Story
There is more to this story. This world’s best character actor has a sad ending. He died in the Huntington Hospital following complications with his heart and kidney on April 28, 2007 just twenty six days after his ninetieth birthday. His estate director died in Anderson, Missouri just a couple of weeks prior to his death, leaving his estate without a director. He was cremated and shipped to Ozark Funeral Home in Anderson, Missouri. He was buried at the foot of his parents.
Headstone and Bench
Community of Anderson, Missouri
In 2014 his graveside was discovered with a lonely Avon glass stagecoach sitting on the ledge of the back of his parents headstone. His name and date of birth were etched on the back of that headstone. He had died in 2007, seven years earlier and there was no death date. Due to circumstances there was not enough money to bury him in the plot which he had purchased for himself. He had no headstone of his own. Since this discovery the community of Anderson, Missouri has placed his death date on his parents headstone and placed a bench, with his names etched on it, at his burial site.
This wonderful character actor now rests in peace in Peace Valley Cemetery, Anderson, Missouri with his birth and death dates etched on his parents headstone. There is now the Town Hole, a memorial and a bench in his memory. In memory of the man with many names; Robert William “Billy Bob” “Dabbs” Greer.
More information on Dabbs Greer can be found at www.grandmasattic-antiques.com.