Harry Bellaver (February 12, 1905 – August 8, 1993) was an American stage, film and television actor who appeared in many roles from the 1930s through the 1980s.
Bellaver was born in Hillsboro, Illinois, the son of Matteo and Maria (née Copa) Bellaver. His father worked in the Hillsboro coal mines. He left school at a young age and worked various jobs but eventually was awarded a scholarship to Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York.
Bellaver was a member of the Hedgerow Players of Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, for eight years. Early in Bellaver’s career he appeared in numerous Broadway plays. He made his Broadway debut in the 1931 Group Theatre in the play 1931. He also appeared in the Elmer Rice play We, the People in 1933, and in the Broadway debut that year of The Threepenny Opera.
Bellaver appeared in the original production of the Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun, as Chief Sitting Bull. He appeared in the same role in the 1966 revival.
Bellaver was a prolific film character actor, mainly in “working class” roles, from 1939 through the 1960s. He appeared in the film adaptation of From Here to Eternity and in several notable film noirs. He played the role of ex-convict “Creeps” in 1939’s Another Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy. He appeared in The House on 92nd Street (1945) as a taxi driver spying for the Nazis, and again played a cab driver, this time victimized by a gangster, in Side Street (1950). He played “Sam The Surgeon” in the Classic Bob Hope Comedy “The Lemon Drop Kid” (1951).
He appeared in Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney and Doris Day in 1955 and The Old Man and the Sea with Spencer Tracy in 1958. His other film roles included appearances in One Potato, Two Potato (1964), A Fine Madness (1966), Madigan (1968), The Hot Rock (1972), God Told Me To (1976), Blue Collar (1978), and the comedy Hero at Large (1980), starring John Ritter and Anne Archer. His last film role was as an old miner in the horror film The Stuff (1985).
Bellaver is probably best known for his featured role as Sgt. Frank Arcaro in the television series Naked City appearing in 136 of the series’ combined 138 episodes. He played an older, mellow detective who was a counterpoint to the dedicated young detectives played by James Franciscus and Paul Burke. He also was on Another World as Ernie Downs.
Bellaver served in the Special Services Unit of the U.S. Army during World War II. During World War II he toured the front lines as a stage manager and actor in the U.S.O. Camp Show Over 21 which starred Vivian Vance and Philip Ober.
Bellaver married Gertrude Dudley Vaughan Smith, “Dudley”. They had two daughters, Vaughan and Lee.
Bellaver lived in Tappan, New York when he died of pneumonia on August 8, 1993 at Nyack Hospital in Nyack, New York. He was survived by his daughters Lee Bellaver of Stone Ridge, New York and theatrical casting director Vaughn Bellaver-Allentuck of East Hampton, Long Island, two grandsons, a granddaughter, and two great-granddaughters.