Dolph Sweet--Popular Stage, TV Series Actor--Dead at 64


Dolph Sweet, most recently the lovingly sarcastic police chief on television’s “Gimme a Break” and an actor who began his career in a World War II prison camp, is dead of cancer.

Sweet died Wednesday at Tarzana Hospital, NBC-TV publicist Matt Bozek said. He was 64.

He was a former English and drama teacher at Barnard College of Columbia University who began acting when his fellow POWs staged a one-act play at a German prison camp.

After the war he was trying to break into acting but instead accepted a job at Barnard that 12 years later found him heading the college’s drama department.


He eventually did make it to Broadway, appearing in “Rhinoceros,” “Streamers,” “The Penny Wars,” “Billy” and “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.”

30 Movies

Sweet also was in more than 30 movies, including “You’re a Big Boy Now,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Which Way is Up?” “Go Tell the Spartans” and “The New Centurions.” On television, he starred as Gil on the daytime soap “Another World” and in the short-lived 1980 series “When the Whistle Blows,” about a gang of construction workers.

He created the role of Police Chief Carl Kanisky in “Gimme a Break” in 1981. The show has been renewed for a fifth season, but it was undecided what would be done about Sweet’s character, Bozek said. Sweet had missed four episodes in the 1983-84 season because of stomach surgery.

His co-star on the show, Nell Carter, who portrays a stern housekeeper caring for Kanisky, a widower, and his children, will deliver the eulogy at Sweet’s funeral today at St. Bridget of Sweden Church in Van Nuys.

Sweet is survived by his wife, Iris Braun. He has a son, Jonathan, by his first wife, who died in 1977.