Robert Lansing

Robert Lansing Robert Lansing was born Robert Howell Brown on June 5, 1928, in San Diego, California, and died October 23rd, 1994, in New York, of the cancer he had been suffering from for some time. His career spanned more than a generation, in film, on stage, and on television.

Born at the dawn of the Great Depression, Robert Lansing's early years were spent traveling around the country with his salesman father. When he was nine, he sneaked under a loose flap into a visiting tent show in Texas and fell in love with the make-believe world of the theatre. Determined to become an actor, he volunteered for his grammar-school play, and immediately began driving himself with total commitment.

Back in California a few years later, he kept polishing the dream, appearing in every amateur theatrical he could. He dropped out of high school to enlist in the army, served his two years, and started hitch-hiking from Los Angeles to Broadway.

Stopping in Fort Wayne, IN to visit an aunt, he became an actor with a local civic theatre group, a radio announcer, and a teen-age husband. Two years later, the Lansings took off for New York. Using his GI Bill benefits, Robert enrolled at the American Theatre Wing's dramatic school.

These were lean years, as he struggled to make a living. He and his first wife divorced, and he married actress Emily McLaughlin (best known as nurse Jessie Brewer in General Hospital).

Soon after, their fortunes changed. Cast as the psychiatrist in Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, Robert Lansing was named one of that season's two best off-Broadway actors (the other was George C. Scott). That success led to his first Hollywood TV part in Alcoa Presents.

His first Broadway role was in 1948 in Stalag 17, and his first feature film was 1959's The 4-D Man. His career encompassed all genres, though he was well-known to science fiction fans through his appearances in cult films like Empire of the Ants, and his appearance as Gary Seven in Star Trek, in the episode, "Assignment: Earth".

Lansing's televsion work won him critical acclaim, if not financial success. Of his role as Detective Steve Carella in the series 87th Precinct (based on the books), author Ed McBain was reported as saying, "He IS Carella." And his replacement as the lead in the series 12 O'Clock High caused a great deal of furor. TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory, who liked to refer to himself as a curmudgeon, wrote, "Make no mistake about it. Robert Lansing is magnificent."

Robert Lansing's final television role was that of Police Captain Paul Blaisdell, on the series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. Executive Producer Michael Sloan, who had been friends with Lansing since both men worked together on Sloan's series, The Equalizer in the 80s, wrote the part expressly for Lansing, who had already been diagnosed with the cancer which would eventually kill him. Despite failing health, Lansing appeared in almost two dozen episodes during the series' first two seasons. But eventually, the strain became too much. The final episode of the second season "wrote out" the character of Blaisdell, though left the door open for his return, should Lansing's health rally. As it was, the final episode, "Retribution", filmed in February of 1994, was Lansing's final appearance. The episode aired a month after Lansing's death and was dedicated to his memory.

Robert Lansing was survived by his wife, Anne, and two children from previous marriages: Robert Frederick Orin Lansing, and Alice Lucille Lansing.

*Biographical information obtained from "The General Died at Dusk", by Jerry D. Lewis in TV Guide, May 15, 1965.

Film Appearances:

4D Man (also known as "The Master of Terror" and "The Evil Force") 1959
The Pusher 1960
A Gathering of Eagles 1963
Under the Yum-Yum Tree 1963
An Eye for and Eye 1966
Namu, the Killer Whale 1966
It Takes All Kinds 1969
The Grissom Gang 1971
Black Jack (also known as Wild in the Sky) 1973
Bittersweet Love 1976
Scalpel (also known as False Face) 1976
Empire of the Ants 1977
Acapulco Gold 1978
Island Claws (also known as The Night of the Claws) 1981
The Nest 1988
After School (also known as Private Tutor) 1988
Blind Vengeance 1990
Jungle Fever 1991

Television appearances Movies:

The Astronaut 1972
Widow 1976
Bionic Showdown 1989

Television appearances Series:

Young Dr. Malone 1958-1963
87th Precinct 1961-62
Twelve O'Clock High 1964-67
The Man Who Never Was 1966-67
Automan 1983-84
The Equalizer 1985
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues

Televison appearances Pilots:

Killer By Night (also known as The City By Night) 1972
The Crime Club 1975
Deadly Triangle 1977
S*H*E 1980

Television appearances Episodic:

Kraft Theatre 1956
U.S. Steel Hour 1959-1963
The Dow Hour of Great Mysteries 1960
Sam Benedict 1962-3
The Virginian 1963, 1965, 1967
Wagon Train 1964
Twilight Zone 1964
Ironside 1968
Star Trek 1968
Name of the Game 1969
Gunsmoke 1969
Medical Center 1970
Bonanza 1970
Mannix 1970-1
The Evil Touch 1973
Great Performances, "Life on the Mississippi" 1980
Simon and Simon 1983
Hotel 1986
Appeared in episodes of General Electric Theatre, on "Monsters" and on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Camera Three"

Stage Appearances:

Stalag 17 1948
Cyrano De Bergerac 1953
Charley's Aunt 1953
Richard III 1953
The Lovers 1956
Cue for Passion 1958
Suddenly Last Summer 1958
Great God Brown 1959
All About Love 1959
Cut of the Axe 1960
Under the Yum-Yum Tree 1960
Antony and Cleopatra 1967
Brightower 1970
Finishing Touches 1973
The Father 1973
The Line 1977
Phaedra 1977
S.S. Glencairn 1977-8
The Dance of Death 1980-1
Damien 1981
The Little Foxes 1981
The Bathers 1983-4
The Cost of Living 1985
John Brown's Body 1989
Mi Vida Loca 1990

Major Tours:

Stalag 17 1952-3
Finishing Touches 1973-4
The Little Foxes 1981

Go to the KF:TLC Script Collection