Ron Masak
Masak in 1973
Ronald Alan Masak

(1936-07-01)July 1, 1936
DiedOctober 20, 2022(2022-10-20) (aged 86)
Years active1959–2022
Kay Knebes
(m. 1961)

Ronald Alan Masak (July 1, 1936 – October 20, 2022) was an American actor best known for playing the recurring role of Sheriff Mort Metzger of Cabot Cove in the CBS mystery series Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury, who predeceased him by only 9 days.[1] He's also known for his other television roles and his performances in films including Ice Station Zebra (1968), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), and Harper Valley PTA (1978).

Early life

Masak was born in Chicago to Floyd Louis Masak and Mildred Alice (Rudy) Masak.[2] His mother was of Irish descent and his father of Czech Bohemian descent. His paternal great-grandfather, Karel Masák (1861-1899), was an immigrant from Zvěrkovice near Týn nad Vltavou.[3][4][5][6]


Early career

He began working as a stage performer, and mostly was involved in theater until transitioning to film and television becoming a familiar character actor.

The Army provided Masak with a platform to display his all-around talents for performing, writing, and directing. In 1960–61, he toured the world doing vocal impressions in the all-Army show entitled "Rolling Along".[citation needed]


Masak's early television appearances includes roles on The Twilight Zone, Get Smart, The Monkees, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. From 1970 to 1973 he appeared in the ABC anthology comedy series Love, American Style. He then starred in another ABC series, Love Thy Neighbor (1973). He then earned roles in the NBC crime series Police Story (1975-1978), and in the ABC sitcom Webster (1983-1989).

Masak's first screen role was as the Harmonica Man in "The Purple Testament", an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1960.[7] He appeared as "Mike the boxer" on The Flying Nun, season 1, episode 26 ("Where There's a Will"), which first aired March 13, 1968. He appeared as "Officer #2" on Bewitched, season 7, episode 4 ("Samantha's Hot Bedwarmer"), first aired on October 15, 1970, he also appeared in season 5 episode 25 as an ice cream shop manager which aired in 1969, ("Samantha’s Power Failure"), and as "Irving Bates Sr." in season 6, episode 23 ("Just a Kid Again").

In addition to two guest appearances on the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, he worked again with "Jeannie" co-star Larry Hagman in an episode of the crime series The Rockford Files.[8]

Masak had a guest appearance as Beauregard Jackson in the episode "Hurricane" on Land of the Lost. He appeared in the second season of Barney Miller episode of "The Horse Thief" as officer Shriker and was a guest star in the "Welcome Home, Vince" episode of The Feather & Father Gang in 1977 and in the episode "The Two-Million-Dollar Stowaway" of The Eddie Capra Mysteries in 1978. In 1981, he guest starred on the Magnum, P.I. episode "Skin Deep". He also guest starred on an episode of Quincy, M.E..[9]

Masak was perhaps best known for a recurring role on Murder, She Wrote as the Cadillac convertible-driving Sheriff, Mort Metzger of Cabot Cove, taking over for Tom Bosley's Sheriff Amos Tupper, a role which he played from 1988 to 1996. Masak did make appearances as two other characters in the series, in "Footnote to Murder" as Lt. Lyle Meyer and in "No Accounting for Murder" as Marty Giles. During this time, he also guest starred on various shows such as The Rockford Files, Quincy, M.E., Magnum, P.I., and Diff'rent Strokes. He died just nine days after the passing of the show's main star, Angela Lansbury.[10]

In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was dubbed "The King of Commercials" for his many commercials, including voice-over work, most notably for a Vlasic pickles ad.[7] From 1982 to 1983, he voiced "Meatballs" on the CBS cartoon series Meatballs & Spaghetti. He did the voice for Veteran Holt in the video game Medal of Honor: European Assault.

In 1990, Masak was a panelist on the revival of the television game show, To Tell the Truth, and appeared on several other game shows as a panelist (including Match Game, Password Plus, and Super Password). Masak appeared as Eddie Fenelle, a taxi driver, in the Columbo episode Ashes to Ashes (1998).


In 1968, he appeared alongside Vince Lombardi in the short film, Second Effort.[11][12] In the same year he had a supporting role in the submarine action film Ice Station Zebra. He also had a role in the film Harper Valley PTA reuniting with his I Dream of Jeannie co-star Barbara Eden.

Personal life and death

Masak married Kay Knebes in September 1961; together they had six children.[13] He was also the first cousin of actor Michael Gross of Family Ties and former Saturday Night Live cast member Mary Gross.

Masak was honorary sheriff of Tarzana, California, for 35 years.[14]

On October 20, 2022, Masak died in Thousand Oaks, California, at the age of 86.[13]

Selected filmography

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (January 2023)
Year Title Role Notes
1959 Police Station TV series
1968 The Monkees Count Dracula S2:E16, "Fairy Tale"
The Monkees Count Dracula S2:E18, "Monstrous Monkee Mash"
Ice Station Zebra Paul Zabrinczski
Second Effort Ron
1969 Daddy's Gone A-Hunting Paul Fleming Uncredited
A Time for Dying Sam, the Bartender
1970 Tora! Tora! Tora! Lt. Laurence Ruff - USS Nevada
1971 Evel Knievel Pete
The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker 1st Baseball Fan
Mission Impossible Ed Campbell TV series Episode: Nerves
1975 Lucky Lady Voice
The Man from Clover Grove Claude Raintree
1976 Woman in the Rain
1978 Laserblast Sheriff
Harper Valley PTA Herbie Maddox
The Eddie Capra Mysteries Barney Quinn Episode: "The Two Million Dollar Stowaway"
1982 The Neighborhood Nick Riccardo TV movie
1983 Dragster Yankee Announcer Mel Allen Uncredited
1988-1996 Murder, She Wrote Sheriff Mort Metzger / Lt. Lyle Meyer / Marty Giles recurring role; 39 episodes (as the sheriff) + 2 guest-starring episodes as other characters
1985 Diff’rent Strokes Ray
1989 Listen to Me Monica's Father
1995 Cops n Roberts Vince Palermo
1998 No Code of Conduct Julian Disanto
2000 The Thundering 8th Spike Sills
2002 The Stoneman Detective Lt. J.D. Hill
The Making of Bret Michaels Himself
2006 The Benchwarmers Principal
2014 My Trip Back to the Dark Side Mr. James Griffin


  1. ^ "Murder, She Wrote Actor Ron Masak Dies One Week After Co-Star Angela Lansbury". Yahoo News. 21 October 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  2. ^ Masak (1936). "Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1949". FamilySearch.
  3. ^ Masak (1899). "Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1871-1998". FamilySearch.
  4. ^ Masak (1889). "Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1949". FamilySearch.
  5. ^ Masak (1891). "Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1949". FamilySearch.
  6. ^ "DigiArchiv of SRA Trebon - ver. 21.06.18". Retrieved 2021-06-20.
  7. ^ a b "Ron Masak Dies: "King Of Commercials" And 'Murder, She Wrote' Actor Was 86". Deadline Hollywood. 21 October 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  8. ^ "Ron Masak, Sheriff Mort Metzger on 'Murder, She Wrote,' Dies at 86". The Hollywood Reporter. 21 October 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  9. ^ "Ron Masak, Character Actor Best Known as Sheriff Mort Metzger on 'Murder, She Wrote,' Dies at 86". The Wrap. 20 October 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  10. ^ "Ron Masak dead: Character actor and 'Murder, She Wrote' star was 86". New York Post. 21 October 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  11. ^ Maraniss, David. "Coach, Symbol, Savior". Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  12. ^ Overman, Stephen J. (1999). ""Winning Isn't Everything, It's The Only Thing", the Origin, Attribution, and Influence of a Famous Football Quote" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  13. ^ a b Barnes, Mike (20 October 2022). "Ron Masak, Sheriff Mort Metzger on 'Murder, She Wrote,' Dies at 86". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Ron Masak Biography (1936-)".