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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 July 1920New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 8 May 1985Tarzana, Los Angeles, California, USA  (cancer)
Birth NameAdolphus Jean Sweet
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A barrel-chested, bull-necked presence on stage, film and TV, the tough-minded character actor was born Adolphus Jean Sweet in New York City on July 18, 1920, the son of an auto mechanic. He initially attended the University of Alabama in 1939, but his studies were interrupted by WWII Air Force duty. As a navigator of B-24s, he was shot down during a raid and captured, spending two years as a POW in Germany. For his valor he was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross and The Purple Heart.

A semi-pro football player and a boxer at one point, he received his Masters from Columbia University in 1949 at age 29. He subsequently became the head of the drama division of the English Department at Barnard College from 1949 to 1961. During this period of time he studied voice with Peyton Hibbett, took intensive acting classes with Tamara Daykarhanova and Joseph Anthony at the Daykarhanova School for the Stage in New York City, and appeared in random stock productions in the hopes of one day pursuing a professional career full-time.

The 40-something-year-old Sweet finally made his New York/Broadway debut in the Zero Mostel starrer "Rhinoceros" in 1961, and continued on the Great White Way with outstanding parts in "Romulus" (1962), "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window in 1964 (and its 1972 revival) and "Streamers" in 1976. Making his TV debut with "The Defenders" in 1961, Dolph quickly became a veteran of blue-collar cop shows including "East Side, West Side" and "The Trials of O'Brien." In the late 1960s he started making a dent in soap operas with regular roles on Dark Shadows (1966), The Edge of Night (1956), Somerset (1970) and especially Another World (1964), where he remained for five seasons (1972-1977) playing (of course) Police Chief Gil McGowan, the second husband of Constance Ford's beloved Ada Davis character.

Dolph received rather scant notice for his film roles despite some good scenes in such movies as Fear Is the Key (1972) and Go Tell the Spartans (1978). TV proved to be a more accepting medium for the actor. He portrayed J. Edgar Hoover in the "King" miniseries in 1978 and in the early 1980s the portly character player won a change-of-pace comedy lead in the popular sitcom Gimme a Break! (1981) in which he played (naturally) a police chief, Carl Kanisky, a widower whose household was run by the irrepressible Nell Carter.

During the show's run, Dolph was stricken with cancer and would die on May 8, 1985. At the beginning of the 1985-1986 season, the chief's passing was incorporated into the script and Nell became surrogate mother and father to his children. In real-life, the 64-year-old actor was survived by his second wife of 11 years, actress Iris Braun, and son Jonathan from his first marriage to Reba Gillespie, which ended in divorce in 1973.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Iris Braun (1974 - 8 May 1985) (his death)
Reba Gillespie (? - 1973) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (4)

Died while still a cast member of Gimme a Break! (1981). The show wrote his death into the script and continued to air for two more years.
Was a prisoner of war in a German camp during World War II.
Was the artist-in-residence at the University of New Hampshire's drama department in the 1977-1978 school year.
Was a navigator on B-24 "Liberator" bomber aircraft. Was a 2nd Lieutenant assigned to the 44th Bomb Group. Shot down on 1 August 1943 during Operation "Tidal Wave," the first major mission flown against Axis oil refineries at Ploseti, Romania. Sweet was captured and held POW in Italy until 1944.

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