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Actor Laurence Haddon Dies at 90

Laurence Haddon - P 2013

He had a landmark role as a gay man on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and played recurring characters on such shows as “Dallas,” “Lou Grant” and “Knots Landing.”

Laurence Haddon, a busy character actor who appeared on dozens of TV series like Dallas, Lou Grant and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman during his four-decade career, has died. He was 90.

Haddon died May 10 in Santa Monica from complications associated with Lewy body disease, a form of dementia, his daughter-in-law Eilene Vila Schmidt said Tuesday. He was 90.

On Norman Lear’s syndicated soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Haddon portrayed one of the first non-stereotypical gay men to appear on national television. In a 1976 episode, he’s caught kissing another man (neighbors were led to believe that they were brothers), and later the couple consider getting married.

Haddon also was seen on three CBS series in the 1970s and ’80s: as J.R.’s banker Franklin Horner on primetime soap Dallas, as the foreign editor on the newsroom drama Lou Grant and as the crooked Dr. Mitch Ackerman, who memorably stole Joan Van Ark’s babies, on Knots Landing, another soapy drama.

Haddon’s lengthy résumé also includes stints on television’s Dr. Kildare, Dennis the Menace, Death Valley Days, My Three Sons, Sanford and Son, Mannix, Good Times, The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, Vega$, Hill Street Blues, T.J. Hooker and Designing Women. He appeared in the 1974 telefilm The Execution of Private Slovik and had roles in the features Hands of a Stranger (1962), Fantastic Voyage (1966) and The Graduate (1967).

Haddon was born in Philadelphia in 1922 and attended Friends’ Central School and Syracuse University. After Pearl Harbor, he left college and served in the Merchant Marine during World War II as an officer on Liberty ships ferrying munitions, other cargo and German prisoners in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific.

After the war, he did a brief stint in the aluminum business before deciding to become an actor. He moved to New York, where he landed parts on stage and in the early era of live TV. 

Haddon went on the road in the national touring companies of Tea and Sympathy with Maria Riva and The Warm Peninsula, which starred Julie Harris and Larry Hagman and opened on Broadway in 1959.

In 1958, Haddon married actress-model Jacqueline Prevost, and they moved to Los Angeles two years later. He was a consistent performer at The Melrose, one of the first and most enduring waiver theaters in Los Angeles.

In addition his daughter-in-law and wife, survivors include his children Michael and Phoebe, stepson Guy and grandchildren Zoe and Stephen.