Sam George Edwards (May 26, 1915 – July 28, 2004) was an American actor. His most famous role on television was as banker Bill Anderson on Little House on the Prairie.
Born into a show business family, his first role was as a baby in his mother’s arms. He appeared on radio in the 1930s in the Adventures of Sonny and Buddy one of the first radio serials ever syndicated, and later in The Edwards Family, a series based on the life of Sam, brother Jack, sister Florida, and his parents, Edna Parks and Jack Edwards Sr. Sam was also an early cast member of one of the first radio soap operas, One Man’s Family.
During World War II, Sam was inducted into the Army and ended up serving as part of the morale-building entertainment corps, spending much of the time in the African, European, and India/Burma theater, travelling for a time with Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton’s regiments. He enlisted August 6, 1942 and was discharged November 15, 1945 as a “Buck” Sergeant.
Edwards spent much of his retirement travelling the world with his wife of 35 years, Beverly, and attending many Old Time Radio conventions where he participated in recreations of original shows from the 1940s and 1950s, as well as newer scripts. He spent his last 24 years based in Durango, Colorado where he died.
On July 28, 2004, Edwards died of a heart attack in Durango, Colorado. He was survived by his wife, Beverly Motley Edwards, stepchildren William, Deborah and Linda Edwards, and several grandchildren.
Edwards worked on a variety of radio programs. He co-starred in the comedy The First Hundred Years on ABC in 1949:118 and landed a starring role playing Dexter Franklin opposite Janet Waldo in the long-running Meet Corliss Archer series.:222 He also had recurring or cast member roles in radio on Crime Classics, Dr. Paul;:101 Father Knows Best,:115 Guiding Light,:140 Fort Laramie; Gunsmoke; Dragnet; Suspense; Escape; This Is Your FBI; The Six Shooter; and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.
Edwards’ first major screen role was as Chuck Ramsey in the movie serial version of Captain Midnight (1942). From 1949 to 1981, he made several film appearances, with significant roles in Twelve O’Clock High (1949), Operation Pacific (1951), Gangbusters (1954), and supporting roles in The Beatniks (1960) and Suppose They Gave A War and Nobody Came (1969). He was also seen in The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1969) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981).
Edwards was also often heard behind animated characters both on film and records. In 1942, he voiced the adult Thumper in the animated classic Bambi. Later work for Disney was largely on LP Records, including the voices of the Cowardly Lion and Tin Woodman on their Oz series, and as Tigger, and Owl on the Winnie the Pooh records. He voiced the title character of Rod Rocket in an early 1960s educational series, and did some episodes of the cult classic Jonny Quest. His last work for Disney was as Ollie Owl opposite singer Burl Ives as Sam the Eagle on their long-running America Sings attraction at Disneyland. There were numerous TV and radio commercials as well, both in front of and behind the camera.
Edwards appeared on many television series starting in the mid-1950s. Most notable of these include many episodes of Dragnet and Gunsmoke throughout their long runs. He also appeared on over 60 different series, including The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Straightaway, The Andy Griffith Show, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Mannix, Mission: Impossible, The Streets of San Francisco, Adam-12, The Red Skelton Show, Happy Days, The Dukes of Hazzard, and even Days of Our Lives. In 1969 Edwards appeared as Will Frazee on the TV series The Virginian in the episode titled “A Woman of Stone.”