Larry Dobkin, 83; Director, Lifelong Character Actor

Times Staff Writer

Larry Dobkin, a television director and character actor whose acting credits spanned stage, radio, TV and films over seven decades, has died. He was 83.

Dobkin, one of five actors who played detective Ellery Queen on radio, died of heart failure Oct. 28 at his home in Los Angeles.

Dobkin appeared in more than 65 feature films, including “The Ten Commandments,” “Julius Caesar,” “Sweet Smell of Success,” “The Defiant Ones,” “North by Northwest,” “Patton” and “Angels in the Outfield.”

As an actor, he appeared in early TV shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “The Adventures of Superman,” “You Are There,” “Playhouse 90" and “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” He also showed up frequently in TV westerns in the 1950s and ‘60s, including “Gunsmoke,” “Lawman,” “The Rifleman,” “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Rawhide"--as well as series ranging from “77 Sunset Strip” to “The Untouchables” and, more recently, from “NYPD Blue” to “Judging Amy.”


As a television director, he gathered credits from the ‘50s through the ‘80s, including “The Donna Reed Show,” “Dr. Kildare,” “The Waltons,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and “The Fall Guy.”

Dobkin, who received an Emmy nomination for his supporting role in the 1967 “CBS Playhouse” production of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” also wrote the 1976 film “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.”

Born in New York City in 1919, Dobkin began acting off Broadway in his mid-teens. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama and served as Paul Lucas’ understudy in the 1942 Broadway production of Lillian Hellman’s “Watch on the Rhine.”

On radio in the ‘40s and early ‘50s, he appeared in shows such as “The Lux Radio Theatre” and “Philco Playhouse.” Most notably, he played the title role of the suave, deductive genius in “The Adventures of Ellery Queen” from 1947 to 1948.


Dobkin, whose family said “his passion was his work,” never retired as an actor.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Anne; three daughters, Deborah Janke of Colorado Springs, and Kristy and Kaela Dobkin, both of Los Angeles; a son, Laird Fenwick of Toronto; and a grandson.