R.I.P. Forrest Compton, who played Col. Edward Gray on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
He also starred on a soap opera inspired by Perry Mason.
Read to Me
There was a pecking order in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter (Frank Sutton) chewed out Private Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors). He was a drill sergeant in the Marines, after all. But even Carter had to answer to somebody. That somebody was Co. Edward Gray, portrayed by Forrest Compton on five seasons of the Andy Griffith Show spinoff. He was the one who chewed out Gunnery Sergeant Carter.
It was the first major television role for Compton, who had served in the 103rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. (His character served at the Battle of Iwo Jima.) After the war, Compton went to college in his home state of Pennsylvania before heading to the Ivy League for a Master's degree from the Yale School of Drama. It was there he met and befriended Paul Newman.
His military and acting experience also served him well as a frequent guest star on Hogan's Heroes — he appeared as various characters in six episodes — not to mention as a military figure on The Invaders, 12 O'Clock High and My Three Sons.
In the 1970s, Compton found a home on daytime television, landing the lead role of Mike Karr on The Edge of Night, a legal soap opera inspired by Perry Mason. In fact, the series was meant to actually be a television adaptation of Perry Mason, until the network and creator Erle Stanley Gardner fought over whether to give Perry a love interest.
Compton was the third actor to fill play Mike Kerr on the series, a job he held from 1971–1984, when the soap came to an end.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Compton died on Sunday, April 5. He was 94 years old.