Say, who is that guy, anyway?

December 23, 2009

HERB VIGRAN

When we were watching the “Dragnet” Christmas episode the other night, a familiar face appeared. It was the clerk at a fleabag hotel. And as we do every time we see him, we said, “Wow, that guy must have made a thousand movies and TV shows.”

This time for a change, I decided to find out who he was, and he turned out to be character actor Herb Vigran. According to the International Movie Database, he appeared in 314 TV episodes and movies between 1934 and 1987. His last film, “Amazon Women on the Moon,” was released the year after his death.

HERB VIGRAN

Vigran held a law degree, but he never practiced law because he was in love with acting. Besides all the TV and movies, he did some stage work, including the 1936 Broadway classic “Having a Wonderful Time” with John Garfield and Eve Arden. He also worked in radio and was a regular on “The Jack Benny Program” before doing three years of military service during World War II.

His hundreds of TV jobs included multiple appearances on “The Adventures of Superman,” the original “Dragnet” and the later revival, “The Jack Benny Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and “Gunsmoke.”

He was so successful as a character actor that he had one of the most familiar faces in America — he looked like your Uncle Ed — but he rarely played the same part twice and was known to most of his audience as “Wotzisname.”

Herb Vigran in an episode of "The Adventures of Superman"

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3 Responses to “Say, who is that guy, anyway?”

  1. Julie Gottlieb Says:

    I just saw your 12/23/09 post about actor Herb Vigran. He was my dad’s cousin. Back in the ’60s, we would be watching Superman or Andy Griffith, and we’d recognize him from his voice and bushy eyebrows. One of us kids would scream, There’s our cousin! Another famous cousin was Tony Randall, who was also Vigran’s cousin. They even appeared in a couple of movies together.

    • charlespaolino Says:

      Thanks for sharing your personal connection to Herb Vigran. I think a lot of people from my generation and the one before unconsciously think of him as part of our own families or, at least, our circle of acquaintances. For some reason, the first thing that comes to mind with regard to him is an episode of “I Love Lucy” in which he plays an appliance repairman.

  2. Janice Sevcech Says:

    Herb Vigran is also my mother’s first cousin on her mother’s side. I had the opportunity to meet Herb & his wife, Belle in the early 70s at a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. I also heard that Tony Randall was his cousin, but perhaps on the other side of his family. I’m always interested in meeting family so if anyone is interested, I can impart info regarding Herb. I think he has 2 sons. We also enjoyed watching him on Gunsmoke, Hawmps& numerous other shows.

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