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Gary Vinson
Born October 22, 1936(1936-10-22)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Died October 15, 1984 (aged 47)
Redondo Beach, California
Nationality American
Occupation Actor: The Roaring 20s, McHale's Navy, and Pistols 'n' Petticoats

Gary Vinson (October 22, 1936—October 15, 1984) was an American actor who appeared in significant roles in three television series of the 1960s: The Roaring 20s, McHale's Navy, and Pistols 'n' Petticoats.


Early career

Born in Los Angeles, California, Vinson's first role was in 1957, at the age of twenty-one, when he appeared as the teenager Andrew in the episode "Story of Sister Brigit" on the Kenneth Tobey syndicated series Whirlybirds. In the story line, Andrew has left an orphanage to live with foster parents, but serious problems followed.[1] Vinson's other 1957 roles were those as:

  • A character named "Jimmy Carter" in the 1957 musical film Rockabilly Baby

Vinson portrayed Billy Thompson in the 1958 episode "A Noose Fits Anybody" of the NBC western Bat Masterson, starring Gene Barry as Bat Masterson. He also appeared in 1958 in the episode "Shore Patrol" of Wendell Corey's syndicated drama of the United States Coast Guard, Harbor Command. In 1959, he appeared in four other westerns as:

  • Smoky Vaughn in a largely comedy role in the episode "A Fellow's Brother" on ABC's Maverick, with James Garner.


In 1960, Vinson was on a roll and appeared as:

  • Larry Hoyt and Frank Andrews in two episodes, "The Last Bullet" and "Heart of Gold", respectively, of ABC's The Alaskans
  • Lieutenant Sims in two episodes, "Chain of Command" and "The Tresspasser" of ABC's Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston

From 1958-1961, he appeared in four separate roles on the ABC western Bronco, starring Ty Hardin: as Jamie Ringgold in "Four Guns and a Prayer", as Bud Donner in "The Devil's Spawn", as an unidentified gunman in "The Invaders", and as Johansen in "Cousin from Atlanta".[3]

In 1960, at the age of twenty-four, he was cast in his first recurring role in a series as copy-boy Chris Higbee in thirty-nine episodes of ABC's The Roaring 20's, including such segments as "You Can't Fight City Hall", "Blondes Prefer Gentlemen", and "Asparagus Tips". His co-stars were Dorothy Provine, Donald May, Rex Reason, John Dehner, and Mike Road. The series, which ended early in 1962, was set at the fictional New York Record newspaper in New York City.

From 1960-1962, the same time that he appeared on The Roaring 20's, Vinson guest starred three times on another ABC and Warner Brothers series, 77 Sunset Strip, including roles of Brad Curtis in "Fraternity of Fear", as Marlin in "Attic", and as Rod Jenning in "Ghost of a Memory". He appeared in the 1961 episode "The Runaway Groom" of NBC's The Tall Man, starring Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager as Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Vinson guest starred in two episodes of ABC's western series, Lawman, "The Badge" (1958) and "Explosion" (1962). He portrayed Mr. McMillon in the 1961 film A Majority of One, starring Rosalind Russell, Alec Guiness, and Ray Danton.[2]


In 1962, he appeared as Doug Wilson in the episode "A Very Special Girl" of CBS's General Electric Theater, one of the last episodes of the anthology series, hosted by Ronald W. Reagan. That same year, Vinson was Lieutenant Taylor in the episode "The Day of the Savage" of NBC's western series Laramie starring John Smith and Robert Fuller.[2]

He was cast as Bruce Randall in "The Parish Car" of ABC's Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly and based at a Roman Catholic parish in New York City. He was Sean McGowan in the 1962 episode, "The Levy-McGowan Story", of NBC's Wagon Train, starring John McIntire.[2]

Vinson's biggest break also came in 1962, when he was cast as Quartermaster George "Christy" Christopher of ABC's McHale's Navy, starring Ernest Borgnine in the lead, with a cast also including ascerbic comedian Joe Flynn. Vinson appeared in seventy-nine episodes from 1962-1966, when the series ended. His last three appearances were in "An Ensign's Best Friend", "Binghamton at 20 Paces", and "Wally for Congress". Vinson also wrote the 1963 McHale's Navy episode, "The Ensign Gets a Zero".[2]

After McHale's Navy, the 30-year-old Vinson was cast as Sheriff Harold Sikes in CBS's Pistols 'n' Petticoats, starring Ann Sheridan, Ruth McDevitt, and Douglas Fowley. His episodes included "Harold's Double", "Colonel Comes to Town", "The Taming of Sorry Water", "Peace Offering", and "The Golden Fleece".[2]

In 1968, he starred with Doug McClure and David Hartman in the film Nobody's Perfect', a naval comedy about the USS Bustard.[2]

In 1969, he appeared as another sheriff, Tom Wade, in the episode "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs" of NBC's The Virginian. He also played Joseph Foxx in the 1969 episode "Moment of Truth" on ABC's The F.B.I. starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. From 1968-1970, he appeared twice as Beau Graves on ABC's The Mod Squad in episodes entitled "The Teeth of the Barracuda" and "A Time for Remembering".[2]

Later career

In 1970, Vinson guest starred as 'Bob Petrie' in the episode "East Is East And West Is West" of the short-lived NBC sitcom Nancy, which featured Celeste Holm in a supporting role.[4]

During the 1970s, he appeared on ABC's Love, American Style, McCloud with Dennis Weaver, The Streets of San Francisco with Karl Malden, and on CBS's The Waltons, in which he portrayed a Sergeant Strong in the 1974 episode entitled "The Runaway". He appeared also in the 1975 ABC crime drama S.W.A.T. and as Lieutenant Baylor in the 1976 episode "The Cat's Whiskers" of NBC's military drama Baa Baa Black Sheep, starring Robert Conrad. He portrayed the character "Doyle" in the 1978 episode "Greetings from Earth" of the adventure series, Battlestar Galactica.

By the 1980s, Vinson's roles were of a wrecker driver in the episode "The Killing Point" of CBS's detective series Barnaby Jones starring Buddy Ebsen, as Jim Hagen in the television movie, The $5.20 an Hour Dream, as Stuart in "Down and Dirty" of NBC's B.J. and the Bear starring Greg Evigan, and an appearance in the television film The Munsters' Revenge. His last roles were in 1982: as an air marshal in "No Way Out" of ABC's The Fall Guy starring Lee Majors and as Sperling in "A Minor Problem" of CBS's The Incredible Hulk.

At the time of his death, Vinson was residing in Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County, California. He was reportedly distraught over a pending criminal charge and committed suicide.[5]


  1. ^ "Plot summary for "Story of Sister Brigit" of Whirlybirds". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 3, 2009.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Going My Way". IMDB. Retrieved 5 March 2009.  
  3. ^ "Bronco". Classic Television Archive. Retrieved March 5, 2009.  
  4. ^ "Nancy (1970)". IMDB. Retrieved March 5, 2009.  
  5. ^ "Gary Vinson". Retrieved March 5, 2009.  

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