Wednesday, 10 February 2016

You're Charlie the Bank Teller, Right?

He appeared on the New York stage in October 1939 in William Saroyan’s comedy The Time of Your Life with Gene Kelly, Celeste Holm and Ross Bagdasarian. His Broadway credits included Of Mice and Men and I Am a Camera, And once he got a firm hold on television in the late ‘50s, he seems to have appeared on everything. He was the perfect stuck-up boss in sitcoms. He was a callous businessman in dramas.

I’d be hard-pressed to answer “no” if you asked me whether a day went by in the ‘60s that I didn’t see Edward Andrews on some TV show. Bewitched. I Dream of Jeannie. The Beverly Hillbillies. Love American Style. He even got a regular role in one of the versions of The Doris Day Show. He appeared in several Disney movie comedies, including The Absent-Minded Professor. He did The Twilight Zone. And that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head.

One downside to being a character actor is that you’re not the star, so nobody thinks of interviewing you, even though your face may be everywhere. However, it appears after Andrews landed a co-starring role on the sitcom Broadside in 1964, the producer’s PR department tried to get him some ink. I’ve found a few squibs quoting Andrews but only one newspaper column that featured him. It was by syndicated columnist Hank Grant and appeared on April 4, 1964.

Busy TV Actor Edward Andrews Half-Recognized By Public

Hollywood—Edward Andrews is one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood, both in movies and TV. Almost every night he is seen in one series or other. In fact, one night, Andrews was seen on five different shows! Yet, he has a most unique problem: in private life, he's only half-recognized.
Andrews, despite the image he's built in his villain roles as a cold, cruel, calculating man, gazing stoically at you through his horn-rimmed glasses, is one of the warmest men I’ve ever met. While congratulating him on his signing for his first series, "Broadside" (for ABC on Sunday nights in the fall), he told me about his peculiar problem.
"There's something about this face of mine," he said, "that is paradoxically both distinguished and undistinguished. People recognize me as someone they know, but invariably never as someone they're seen on the screen.
"More often than not, I've had perfect strangers approach me with: 'Hi, Charlie, how’s the wife and kids? It turns out I’m either a lodge member, a teller at their bank, an insurance salesman or even a friend of a friend. When I try to explain, they'd seen me on TV and I never met them before, believe it or not, they're insulted. One fellow even tried to take a poke at me for being, as he put it, a wise guy!"
A drummer? — "Department stores are anathema for me. People are always taking it for granted I'm the floorwalker, me without even a carnation in my lapel!
"Once, I thought I had that problem licked. Instead of wearing a business suit, I went shopping in casual slacks and a Hawaiian sports shift. Would you believe it? A fellow came up to me and asked if I wanted a job for Saturday night. He was a musician and he was positive I was a drummer he'd worked with before.
"One reason I grabbed onto this series (Broadside) is that finally, I hope, I'd get an identity with exposure every week in the same role. The amusing thing is that Ed Montagne, who also produces this series, first offered me the Captain Binghamton role in his ‘McHale's Navy’ and I turned him down. After seeing what a wonderful job Joe Flynn is doing with the role, I keep kicking myself for what, apparently, was a stupid decision.
"The Patsy! This series is roughly a distaff version of McHale's Navy. Like Binghamton, I play a frustrated officer in the Navy, but with this difference: my hecklers aren't seamen, they're WAVES, a swarm of pretties, headed by Kathy Nolan and, in co-starring positions, Joan Staley and Lois Roberts.
"Like Captain Binghamton, I'm sure, I’ll be the patsy they pull out of the ocean dripping wet (in his first year, Joe Flynn suffered dunkings in at least 10 episodes)."

Fans recognised the show for what it was—McHale’s Navy Light—and brushed it off after a single season, despite comic relief from the great Arnold Stang. The cancellation didn’t hurt Andrews’ career. He was still very much in demand up until he died on March 8, 1985 at the age of 70.


  1. No doubt by now about a zillion people have chimed in that Jerry Lewis was not in The Absent Minded Professor, but I wasn't doing anything, so...

  2. Andrews also played George Baxter in the original pilot of "Hazel", but watching it online (since taken down), you can see why they switched to the slightly younger-looking Don DeFore -- visually Andrews comes off as someone who would have enough money to have a maid, but he also looks closer to Shirley Booth's age than to Whitney Blanke's, making her come off as something of a 'trophy wife' (not that that's ever happened among older, successful guys in Hollywood....)

  3. great article. he was great (along with George Furth) in "Broadside"!