Charles Leonard Aidman (January 21, 1925 – November 7, 1993) was an American actor of stage, film, and television.
Aidman was born in Frankfort, Indiana, the son of George E. and Etta (Kwitny) Aidman. Aidman graduated from Frankfort High School and attended DePauw University prior to serving in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war he returned to his home state, where in Bloomington he enrolled at Indiana University and studied drama there under the legendary instructor Dr. Lee Norvelle.
Aidman guest-starred on NBC’s The Virginian in the episode “The Devil’s Children” and twice on the NBC western series The Californians. He also appeared twice on David Janssen’s Richard Diamond, Private Detective. He portrayed a bounty hunter on the ABC’s western series Black Saddle. He was cast in CBS’s fantasy drama, Twilight Zone, in the episodes “And When the Sky Was Opened” and “Little Girl Lost.” He also guest-starred on five other western series: the ABC/Warner Brothers series Colt .45; ABC’s The Rebel, starring Nick Adams; NBC’s Riverboat, as Frank Paxton in the episode “The Fight at New Canal,” with Darren McGavin; and The Americans, starring Darryl Hickman and CBS’s Trackdown, as Len Starbuck in “The Samaritan”; and CBS’s Johnny Ringo, as Jeffrey Blake in “The Stranger”.
Aidman guest-starred on the NBC children’s western Fury with Peter Graves and Bobby Diamond and in episodes of the ABC/WB crime drama Bourbon Street Beat, starring Andrew Duggan, and in the syndicated aviation adventure series Whirlybirds, starring Kenneth Tobey. He appeared from 1959 to 1960 in different roles in three episodes of the syndicated crime drama U.S. Marshal with John Bromfield. Aidman made a guest appearance on the CBS courtroom drama Perry Mason in 1960 as murderer Arthur Siddons in “The Case of the Gallant Grafter.” Aidman also guest starred in a 1961 episode of the western TV series Bonanza (“The Rival”) as Jim Applegate.
In “Shadow of the Past” (October 7, 1961) of the NBC western series The Tall Man, Aidman is cast as Ben Wiley, the father of Sue Wiley (Barbara Parkins), the latest girlfriend of Billy the Kid (Clu Gulager). Sheriff Pat Garrett (Barry Sullivan) recognizes Wiley as an informant who stopped Garrett from escaping from a Confederate prison during the American Civil War. Nancy Davis Reagan appears in this episode as Ben’s wife, Sarah.
Aidman was cast as George Ellsworth, an official with the United States Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, in the three-part 1963 episode “Security Risk” of the CBS anthology series GE True, hosted by Jack Webb. Ellsworth in 1960 is blackmailed through a romantic affair with a young woman named Erica into passing secret information to the Communists at the height of the Cold War. He confessed his guilt despite the protection of diplomatic immunity. Karl Swenson and Parley Baer were also cast in this episode. He also played a sex education teacher in an episode of Slattery’s People, “Do The Ignorant Sleep in Pure White Sheets”?
In 1963, Aidman adapted Spoon River Anthology by poet Edgar Lee Masters into a theater production that is still performed.
He appeared on another NBC western series starring Barry Sullivan, The Road West, in its 1966 episode “The Lean Years.” That same year Aidman played a scientist who turned into a werewolf in an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He then guest-starred on CBS’s The Wild Wild West in a recurring role for several episodes during the series’ fourth season as Jeremy Pike, one of Jim West’s substitute sidekicks. Ross Martin, who portrayed West’s regular sidekick Artemus Gordon in the series, was recovering from an illness. In 1968 he appeared in ABC’s The Invaders as research scientist Julian Reed in the episode “The Pit”.
In 1970 Aidman appeared in Hawaii Five O as Dr. Royce, and in 1974 he introduced the character Louis Willis (later known as Tom Willis), father-in-law-to-be of Lionel Jefferson, on the February 1974 episode of CBS’s All In The Family, “Lionel’s Engagement”. (The character was later played on the series The Jeffersons by Franklin Cover, who did a much different take on the character.) He also played a teacher in an episode in the sixth season of The Andy Griffith Show and also made a number of guest appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Aidman played the father of Elmer Dobkins in an episode of Little House on the Prairie and appeared in an episode of the 1974 police drama Nakia. Three years later, he portrayed a memorable character in an episode of M*A*S*H, “The Grim Reaper,” playing Colonel Bloodworth, a callous, sadistic commander who takes pleasure in predicting casualties and reducing his troops to statistics. Later, from 1985 to 1987, Aidman served as the original narrator for the revival of The Twilight Zone series until he was replaced by Robin Ward.
His film roles were in Pork Chop Hill (1959), War Hunt (1962), Hour of the Gun (1967), Countdown (1968), Angel, Angel, Down We Go (1969), Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), Adam at 6 A.M. (1970), Kotch (1971), Dirty Little Billy (1972), Deliver Us from Evil (1973), Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977), Zoot Suit (1981), Uncommon Valor (1983), and Innerspace (1987), the latter being one of his final acting appearances.
Aidman died of cancer in Beverly Hills, California. He is interred in the Room of Prayer at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
|1956||The Wrong Man||Jail Medical Attendant||Uncredited role|
|1959||Pork Chop Hill||Lieutenant Harrold|
|1962||War Hunt||Captain Wallace Pratt|
|1967||Hour of the Gun||Horace Sullivan|
|1969||Angel, Angel, Down We Go||Willy Steele|
|1969||Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here||Judge Benby|
|1970||Adam at 6 A.M.||Mr. Hopper|
|1972||Dirty Little Billy||Ben Antrim|
|1973||Deliver Us from Evil||Arnold Fleming|
|1977||Twilight’s Last Gleaming||Bernstein|
|1978||The House of the Dead||Detective Malcolm Toliver||Also known as Alien Zone|
|1981||Zoot Suit||George Shearer|
|1982||The American Adventure||Father||Voice role|
|1983||Uncommon Valor||Senator Hastings|
|1987||Innerspace||Speaker At Banquet|