Robert J. Wilke

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Biography

Prolific American character actor of primarily villainous roles. The son of German parents, Cincinnati feed-store manager August Wilke and his wife Rose, Robert Joseph Wilke grew up in Cincinnati. He worked as a lifeguard at a Miami, Florida, hotel, where he made contacts in the film business. He was able to obtain work as a stuntman and continued as such until the mid-'40s, when he began getting actual roles in low-budget westerns and serials. A prominent appearance as one of the heavies in Le train sifflera trois fois (1952) led to work in higher-quality films. He worked extensively in television as well as movies, and became an enormously familiar face, though a fairly anonymous one to the general public. His weathered visage made him a perfect western bad guy, but he occasionally played sympathetic parts as well, as in Les moissons du ciel (1978). An expert golfer, he was said by his friend Claude Akins to have earned more money on the golf course than he ever did in movies. He died in 1989. -

Movies

Lassie is an American television series that follows the adventures of a female Rough Collie dog named Lassie and her companions, human and animal. The show was the creation of producer Robert Maxwell and animal trainer Rudd Weatherwax and was televised from September 12, 1954, to March 24, 1973. One of the longest-running series on television, the show chalked up seventeen seasons on CBS before entering first-run syndication for its final two seasons. Initially filmed in black and white, the show transitioned to color in 1965. The show's first ten seasons follow Lassie's adventures in a small farming community. Fictional eleven-year-old Jeff Miller, his mother, and his grandfather are Lassie's first human companions until seven-year-old Timmy Martin and his adoptive parents take over in the fourth season. When Lassie's exploits on the farm end in the eleventh season, she finds new adventures in the wilderness with a succession of United States Forest Service Rangers. After traveling without human leads for a year, Lassie finally settles at a children's home for her final two syndicated seasons. Lassie received critical favor at its debut and won two Emmy Awards in its first years. Stars Jan Clayton and June Lockhart were nominated for Emmys. Merchandise produced during the show's run included books, a Halloween costume, clothing, toys, and other items. Campbell's Soup, the show's lifelong sponsor, offered two premiums, and distributed thousands to fans. A multi-part episode was edited into the feature film Lassie's Great Adventure and released in August 1963. In 1989, the television series The New Lassie brought Lassie star Jon Provost back to television as Steve McCullough. Selected episodes have been released to DVD.

More info
Lassie
1954