Howard McNear

Active - 1953 - 1965  |   Born - Jan 22, 1905   |   Died - Jan 3, 1969   |   Genres - Comedy

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Character actor Howard McNear made a name for himself on network radio in a vast array of characterizations, from snivelling murderers to dapper French detectives. McNear's best-known radio role was as Doc on Gunsmoke, which ran from 1955 to 1962; his spin on the character was slightly more ghoulish than the interpretation offered by Milburn Stone on television. In films from 1954, the bespectacled, mustachioed McNear was usually cast as a querulous fussbudget. He was spotlighted as Dr. Dompierre in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and was prominently featured in three Billy Wilder comedies, Irma La Douce (1963), Kiss Me Stupid (1964) and The Fortune Cookie (1966). He appeared with frequency on TV in the 1950s and 1960s, often as a foil to such comedians as Jack Benny and Burns and Allen. Howard McNear's most beloved TV characterization was as Mayberry barber Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show; when McNear suffered a debilitating stroke in 1967, Griffith kept him on the payroll, re-writing the scripts to allow "Floyd" to be seated and non-ambulatory without drawing undue attention to McNear's affliction.

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