Berry Kroeger, a seasoned radio actor who later became a menacing presence in films while also appearing opposite such stage actresses as Helen Hayes and Ingrid Bergman, has died.
Bill Wall, a longtime family friend, said Kroeger was 78 when he died Jan. 4 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of kidney failure.
A fixture on such old radio soap operas as “Big Sister” (as Dr. Reid Bannister) and “Young Dr. Malone” (as Sam), Kroeger first stepped before a microphone as a teen-ager in San Antonio.
By the time he was 21 he was managing that Texas radio station and had moved to the national airwaves.
He was one of several actors to portray the suave detective known as “The Falcon” and one of the haunting voices on “Inner Sanctum,” and for several years performed as a regular on the old “Escape” series. In those classic programs, such old radio pros as Kroeger, Jack Webb, Frank Lovejoy and William Conrad offered a menu of high adventure noted for lean writing, intense plots and superior talent.
He also did guest appearances on “The Lux Radio Theatre,” Orson Welles’ “The Mercury Theatre on the Air” and “The First Nighter Program,” which brought Broadway plays into American living rooms.
Kroeger had his own turn on Broadway, appearing with Miss Hayes in several productions and opposite Miss Bergman in “Joan of Lorraine.”
His roles there brought him to film, where he did character work in “The Iron Curtain,” “Cry of the City,” “Down to the Sea in Ships,” “Blood Alley,” “The Mephisto Waltz” and several others.
Survivors include his wife, Mary Agnes, and a sister. A funeral service is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. at Pierce Bros. Westwood.