Harry Townes; Actor in Film and TV

From a Times Staff Writer

Harry Townes, a prolific character actor who appeared in countless films and television productions over 50 years before studying for the ministry, has died. He was 86.

A native of Huntsville, Ala., Townes died in his home there on Wednesday. Townes attended the University of Alabama, but moved to New York in his early 20s to study acting. He graduated from Columbia University after finding acting roles in his undergraduate days.

He began his stage career at the age of 22 playing Captain Tim in “Tobacco Road.” Townes went on to play the leprechaun in “Finian’s Rainbow,” handling the role for two years on Broadway and a year in London. Other Broadway appearances included “How the Other Half Lives” and “Twelfth Night.”

Townes also was a presence in early television, performing on Studio One, Playhouse 90 and Kraft Theater. He was a familiar face on popular television series, including “Gunsmoke,” “Perry Mason,” “Star Trek,” “Rawhide” and “Bonanza.”


On the big screen, Townes had roles in films such as “Operation Manhunt,” “The Brothers Karamazov,” “Fitzwilly,” and “The Bedford Incident.”

In the 1970s, Townes put himself through the seminary to become an Episcopal priest.

A former resident of Beverly Hills, Townes returned to Alabama to live several years ago.