Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Have Ned Glass Stuck in My Memory

I was tuned in to Encore Westerns again, this time to watch a "Gunsmoke" episode, and I caught the credits of "Have Gun, Will Travel."  There it was, the name Ned Glass, and it brought out a hidden memory.  I couldn't place him, but I knew I had seen that name more than once.  Time for some research.

Ned Glass (1906 - 1984) was a very popular Bit Actor, mostly known for his television work in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.  He started out as an extra in many mid-1930s movies.  After the McCarthy era, when he was blacklisted, he was able to restart his career and found some roles that showed his true acting ability.

During the few years when it was tough to find work, he was helped by his friend Moe Howard.  Of course, that meant making six Three Stooges shorts!  In his early movies, he usually played a bank teller or a clerk, or some other small part.  His physical stature made him perfect for that.

I noticed the title Storm Warning (1951) starring Ginger Rogers and Ronald Reagan with Ned in it.  I haven't seen that one, but it may be worthwhile.  The same year he made The People Against O'Hara starring Spencer Tracey and Pat O'Brien.  It sounds like Glass' career has really started by then.

Every title Ned has in this era is filled with stars.  Come Back, Little Sheba (1952) with Burt Lancaster, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) with Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner, The Clown (1953) with Red Skelton, Julius Caesar (1953) with Marlon Brando (and Tom Powers!), The Caddy (1953) with Martin and Lewis...Ned Glass is in them all.  I am sure that his part, no matter how small, contributed to these movies and to the reputations of the stars as well.

Ned kept busy during the television era, but still filled in with movies like King Creole (1958).  He shows up as a ticket seller in North by Northwest (1959).  In 1961 he has a noticeable dramatic role in West Side Story as Doc, the shop owner where Tony works.  Then an even bigger role in Charade (1963) as one of a trio of bad guys with George Kennedy and James Coburn.

I suppose as he started to age, television was easier work.  He still appeared in film, but not as frequently.  Look for Ned in The Fortune Cookie (1966) and Save the Tiger (1973), both with Jack Lemmon, and he is a toll booth attendant in The Love Bug in 1968.

His last film was a low budget item called Street Music (1981), and he then appeared in an episode of "Cagney and Lacey" a few years before he passed away.  All in all, Ned has 207 titles listed on IMDb, and I am glad I remembered his name.


  1. Allen - I had the same reaction you did to the name Ned Glass. I saw your post title and kept thinking, "Ned Glass sounds familiar, who is he?" It took looking at the photo you posted to realize who he was. He has a nice list of credits, I suppose I remember him best from "North by Northwest" and "Charade." You are doing great justice to all the unsung heroes and heroines in those incredible "bit parts," Allen.

  2. Thanks, yet again, Eve for the compliment. I think we all do our part to make movies more enjoyable for everyone, by bringing our observations to the 'net.

    You are right about looking at Ned's picture. He is instantly recognizable, but his name doesn't quickly come to mind. That seems to be an attribute of most Bit Actors!

    I wish I had caught that "Have Gun, Will Travel" episode.

  3. In an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" Ned Glass played a fellow with a cure for baldness and spoke of needing the correct "ingredaments". For years now, that is how I refer to my cooking ingredient needs. I get the strangest looks from people!

  4. That's good spotting, Caftan! Its hard to think of a TV show Ned wasn't in. "Dick Van Dyke" was one of the best, and you know that Carl Reiner only hired the best people to be in it.

  5. Thanks for the great research. I found out about a decade ago that I'm distantly related to Ned Glass via a half sister of my Father's that we didn't know about. Ned technically would be my great uncle.

    It seems about the only thing Ned didn't do on television was science fiction. About the closest to horror/fantasy maybe was "Kolchak".

    It's crazy to think that so much of the television I watched as a kid had him in it. I specifically remember an "I Dream of Jeannie" episode where Maj. Nelson and Jeannie had to get a blood test before getting married but they realized that Jeannie's blood would show up as non-human so they had a thief steal Jeannie's blood sample from the doctor. Ned played the thief. I met Larry Hagman last year and asked him if he remembered Ned and sure enough, he did. I watched "Barney Miller" in reruns religiously as a kid and Ned made quite a few appearances on that show.

    It's amazing to think of how much of a prolific impact Ned had on Hollywood and television yet he's pretty much unknown to your average person.

  6. Thanks for writing, Robert. I guess as a relative you are now a celebrity by default. It is fun to know who is in your blood line.

    Ned followed the best of the Bit Actor's path. Play a whole load of parts whenever you can and you will make a good living. He happened to be a very good actor, but it seems he never sought stardom. Perhaps Joe McCarthy had something to do with it. It sounds like a scene from a Ned Glass movie.


Please add your thoughts, but they will be monitored so keep it on topic.