Ben Alexander (actor)

Nicholas Benton “Ben” Alexander III (June 27, 1911 – July 5, 1969) was an American motion picture actor, who started out as a child actor in 1916. He is best remembered for his role as Officer Frank Smith in the Dragnet franchise.

American actor
For other uses, see Ben Alexander.

Ben Alexander

Alexander in 1959
Nicholas Benton Alexander III

(1911-06-27)June 27, 1911

Died July 5, 1969(1969-07-05) (aged 58)

Occupation Actor
Years active 1916–1969

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Ben Alexander as a child actor

Ben Alexander was born in Goldfield, Nevada, and raised in California. Alexander made his screen debut at age of five in Every Pearl a Tear. He went on to portray Lillian Gish‘s young brother in D. W. Griffith‘s Hearts of the World.[citation needed]

After a number of silent films, he retired from screen work, but came back for the World War I classic, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), in which Alexander received good notices as an adult actor as “Kemmerick”, the tragic amputation victim.[1] He played lead and second lead roles in many low-budget films throughout the 1930s.[citation needed]

He found a new career as a successful radio announcer in the late 1940s, including a stint on the Martin and Lewis program. Alexander also acted on radio, playing Philip West in the 1939–40 soap opera Brenthouse on the Blue Network.[2][3]

In 1952, Jack Webb, actor-producer-director of Dragnet, needed a replacement for Barton Yarborough, who had played Detective Romero opposite Webb’s Sgt. Joe Friday. Webb selected Alexander, but had to wait until he was available. A few actors filled in as Friday’s partners until Alexander appeared in the newly created role of Officer Frank Smith, first in the radio series, then reprised the role in film and on television. The popular series ran until 1959. When Webb revived it in 1966, he wanted Alexander to rejoin him, but Alexander had just signed to play the role of Sgt. Dan Briggs on the weekly ABC series Felony Squad.[3][4]

In 1969, Alexander was found dead of heart attack in his Los Angeles home when his wife and children returned from a camping trip.[4] He was cremated.[5]

For his contribution to the entertainment industry, Ben Alexander was awarded three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television, radio, and movies.[1][3]

. . . Ben Alexander (actor) . . .

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