Frank Ferguson
Frank Ferguson Eli Carson 1972.JPG
Frank Ferguson as Eli Carson on NBC's Return to Peyton Place (1972)
Born(1906-12-25)December 25, 1906
DiedSeptember 12, 1978(1978-09-12) (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California
Cornell University
Years active1929–1977

Frank S. Ferguson (December 25, 1906 – September 12, 1978)[1] was an American character actor with hundreds of appearances in both film and television.


Ferguson was the younger of two children of W. Thomas Ferguson, a native Scottish merchant, and his American wife Annie Boynton. He grew up in his native Ferndale.[2] He graduated from Ferndale Union High School in 1927.[3] He earned a bachelor's degree in speech and drama at the University of California and a master's degree from Cornell University. He also taught at UCLA and Cornell.[4]

As a young man, he became connected with Gilmor Brown, the founder and director of the Pasadena Community Playhouse, and became one of its first directors. He directed as well as acted in many plays there.[5] He also taught at the Playhouse.[4]

He made his film debut in 1939 in Gambling on the High Seas (released in 1940), and appeared in nearly 200 feature films and hundreds of TV episodes subsequently.


Ferguson's best known role was as the Swedish ranch handyman, Gus Broeberg, on the CBS television series, My Friend Flicka,[6] based on a novel of the same name. He appeared with Gene Evans, Johnny Washbrook and Anita Louise. At this time, Ferguson also portrayed the Calverton veterinarian in the first several seasons of CBS's Lassie.

In 1948, he appeared as "McDougal" – the quickly agitated owner of "McDougal's House of Horrors" – in the Universal comedy/horror film "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein". In 1952, he had an uncredited role as a jailer in the film Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair. He also appeared in episodes 149, 173, and 178 of "The Lone Ranger".

Even before My Friend Flicka and Lassie, Ferguson appeared in five episodes as "Murdock" in the 1953–1954 ABC sitcom, The Pride of the Family, starring Paul Hartman, Fay Wray, Natalie Wood and Robert Hyatt. He also appeared in an episode of Jackie Cooper's NBC sitcom, The People's Choice. In 1957 Ferguson appeared as Sheriff Allen on the TV western Cheyenne in the episode titled "The Spanish Grant." He was cast as Doc Spooner in the 1959 episode "Wolf" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Sugarfoot, with Will Hutchins in the title role.

In 1952, Ferguson played the part of a music professor at Pomona College in the second of two short films starring Jascha Heifetz, produced by Rudolph Polk and Bernard Luber. The set-up was that Heifetz and his accompanist, Emanuel Bay, had visited the college in order to see a collection of music/music scores. As they are leaving, the professor catches them and asks if Heifetz will come to his class and say a few words. He does, but when there are no questions immediately, he starts to leave. Suddenly there are some questions, and then it turns into a recital.

Ferguson portrayed Roy Bean, justice of the peace in Langtry, Texas, in the 1959 episode "Law West of the Pecos" of the ABC/WB western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston. In the Colt .45 episode, Lisa Gaye portrayed June Webster, and Douglas Kennedy was cast as Jay Brisco. Ferguson had also appeared as Todd Slater in the 1958 Colt .45 segment, "Rare Specimen".[citation needed] That year he also appeared in Bat Masterson as "Old Billy North".

In 1960, Ferguson returned to Cheyenne, playing Judge Lloyd "Ol' Hang 'em By The Neck" Pomeroy in "Riot At Arroyo Seco" (S4:E9) in which he sees through an entire town's deception and dismisses murder charges against Sheriff Body (Clint Walker) who had been forced to kill the leader of a lynch mob in order to protect a prisoner.

On June 3, 1961, Ferguson was cast as Governor Lew Wallace of the New Mexico Territory in "The Great Western" of the NBC western series, The Tall Man, starring Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett and Clu Gulager as Billy the Kid. In the story line, as Wallace visits Lincoln, New Mexico, Sheriff Garrett tries to keep down brawling in the cantina owned by Big Mamacita (Connie Gilchrist), who is the grandmother of the governor's young aide.

In the 1963–1964 season, Ferguson was cast in the recurring role of Judge Gurney in the NBC/Warner Brothers western series Temple Houston, with Jeffrey Hunter as an historical person, the frontier lawyer Temple Lea Houston, youngest son of Sam Houston. Jack Elam and Mary Wickes were other secondary characters. The series ended after twenty-six weeks.[7]

In 1964–1965, Ferguson portrayed Pa Stockdale in the ABC-TV comedy No Time for Sergeants.[6]: 769–770 

Ferguson played three different characters on The Andy Griffith Show, two different characters on Petticoat Junction, four different characters on Bonanza, four different characters on Perry Mason (including three episodes as a sheriff), and four different characters on the ABC/WB western, Maverick. He guest starred on other series, including the syndicated Gunsmoke, Rescue 8, Bat Masterson, Whirlybirds, and The Everglades; NBC's The Restless Gun, Riverboat, Overland Trail, National Velvet, and Mr. Novak; ABC's The Real McCoys, The Rifleman, The Alaskans, Target: The Corruptors, The Asphalt Jungle, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; and CBS's General Electric Theater (hosted by Ronald W. Reagan), and The Texan, starring Rory Calhoun. Ferguson appeared twice in 1956 as Henry Murdock (a name similar to his character in The Pride of the Family) on the syndicated western-themed crime drama, Sheriff of Cochise.

He guest starred in all three of Rod Cameron's crime series, City Detective (1955), State Trooper (in the 1957 episode "No Blaze of Glory", the story of a presumed arson case with a surprise ending, co-starring Vivi Janiss as his wife) and Coronado 9 (1960). He also guest starred, in the role of a hobo Beaver befriends, during the final season of ABC's Leave It to Beaver sitcom in 1963.

Ferguson played the role of Eli Carson in the primetime ABC serial Peyton Place[6]: 828–829  and reprised the role in the later daytime version Return to Peyton Place.[6]: 890  Ferguson also appeared in an episode of Green Acres in 1969.

Ferguson died in Los Angeles of cancer on September 12, 1978.

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Social Security Death Index, Source Citation: Number: 459-07-0712; Issue State: Texas; Issue Date: Before 1951.
  2. ^ Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930, Ferndale Town, Pacific Township, Humboldt County, California, Enumeration District No. 12-34, Sheet No. 3A, p. 271
  3. ^ Ferndale Union High School Yearbook "Tomahawk"
  4. ^ a b Polson, Dorothee (May 2, 1973). "Celebrities Cook". Arizona Republic. Arizona, Phoenix. p. 91. Retrieved May 18, 2018 – via open access
  5. ^ Alexander, Diane. Playhouse, Los Angeles, California: Dorleac-MacLeish, 1984
  6. ^ a b c d Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 730. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  7. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 107