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Bert Freed

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Title: Bert Freed  
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Subject: Shane (TV series), Take the High Ground!, Billy Jack, Columbo, 1994 in film
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Bert Freed

Bert Freed
Born (1919-11-03)November 3, 1919
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died August 2, 1994(1994-08-02) (aged 74)
Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada
Years active 1947-1986
Spouse(s) Nancy Lee

Bert Freed (November 3, 1919 – August 2, 1994) was a prolific American character actor, voice over actor, and the first actor to portray "Detective Columbo" on television.


  • Life and career 1
  • Later years/death 2
  • Selected filmography 3
  • External links 4

Life and career

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Freed began acting while attending Penn State University, and made his Broadway debut in 1942. Following World War II Army service in the European Theatre, he appeared in the Broadway musical The Day Before Spring in 1945 and dozens of television shows between 1947 and 1985. His film debut occurred, oddly enough, in a musical Carnegie Hall (1947). A prominent role was as the villainous Ryker in the television series Shane, in which Freed added a unique touch of realism by beginning the show clean-shaven and growing a beard from one week to the next, never shaving again through the season.

Freed played Columbo in a live 1960 episode of the "Chevy Mystery Theatre" seven years before Peter Falk played the role. He made four guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of Ken Woodman in the 1960 episode, "The Case of the Treacherous Toupee," and murder victim Joe Marshall in the 1964 episode, "The Case of the Ruinous Road." He made 16 appearances as Rufe Ryker in the TV series Shane in 1966.

He appeared (sometimes more than once) in many other television shows such as The Rifleman, Bonanza, High Chaparral, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, The Virginian, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Charlie's Angels, Then Came Bronson, Run For Your Life, Get Smart, The Lucy Show, Hogan's Heroes, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Combat!, Petticoat Junction, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Route 66, Ironside, The Green Hornet, The Munsters,The Untouchables, and many others. He directed one episode of T.H.E. Cat.

Freed appeared as a racist club owner in No Way Out (1950), a Marine private in Halls of Montezuma (1951), the Police Chief in Invaders From Mars (1953), Sgt. Boulanger in Paths of Glory (1957), the hangman in Hang 'Em High (1968), Max's father in Wild in the Streets (1968), as Chief of Detectives in Madigan (1968), a homosexual prison guard in There Was a Crooked Man... (1970) and Bernard's father in Billy Jack (1971) in which he got "whumped" on the side of the face by Billy Jack's right foot "just for the hell of it."

Later years/death

He retired from acting in 1986, and died of a heart attack in Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada in 1994 while on a fishing trip with his son.

Selected filmography

External links

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