Actor Thomas Morgan Woodward, known for appearances on Star Trek, Dallas, and Gunsmoke among others, passed away February 22 at age 94.
He was born on September 16, 1925, in Fort Worth, Texas. He grew up in Arlington, Texas and was one of five brothers.
He was a member of the United States Army Air Corps during World War II and returned to the military during the Korean War
His first acted at Arlington State College, where he majored in music and drama. He appeared with the Margo Jones Repertory Theatre but then returned to school and obtained a degree in corporate finance from the University of Texas. He sang with a jazz band and a barber shop quartet and hosted a local radio talk show while attending law school at the University of Texas at Austin. His studies were interrupted when he was recalled to active duty with the Air Force during the Korean War.
He moved to Hollywood in 1955 and auditioned for Disney’s The Great Locomotive Chase (1956).
He appeared in more than 250 movies and TV shows during a 40-year acting career. The veteran actor played hard-bitten or menacing types in numerous western or crime dramas.
Perhaps his most famous film role was Boss Godfrey, “The Man with No Eyes”, in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Other film appearances included roles in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Walking Tall: Final Chapter (1977), and Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), among others.
One of Woodward’s longest television roles was as the deputy/sidekick “Shotgun” Gibbs in 42 episodes of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp between 1958 and 1961. Woodward also made 12 guest appearances on Wagon Train, 19 guest appearances on Gunsmoke and 8 on Bonanza.
Woodward played oil man Marvin “Punk” Anderson in 55 episodes of Dallas from 1980-1987.
Woodward guest starred twice on the original series of Star Trek as two different characters. In the first-season episode, “Dagger of the Mind” (1966), Woodward played Dr. Simon Van Gelder, a deputy director of a facility for the criminally insane. He was the first human to mind-meld with Mr. Spock. Woodward called the role of Dr. Simon Van Gelder the most physically and emotionally exhausting acting job of his career in articles in the magazines Starlog and Entertainment Weekly. He played Captain Ron Tracey in “The Omega Glory” in Star Trek‘s second season. His Star Trek appearances may be his most well remembered. He has been quoted as saying,
“The (conventions and autograph) shows that I’ve gone to, most of the people want me to sign pictures from Star Trek. I sign pictures from Dallas and the westerns and Cool Hand Luke, too. The Man with No Eyes from Cool Hand Luke is still very, very popular, and that’s almost 50 years, too. But it’s mostly Star Trek that people want me to sign pictures of, and I get that.”
His other TV appearances included roles on: Days of Our Lives, Logan’s Run, The Waltons, Hill Street Blues, Dukes of Hazard, The A-Team, and Millenium.
- In 1988, Woodward received the Golden Lariat Award at the National Western Film Festival for his contributions to the Western genre and he won the Golden Boot Award given by the Hollywood Motion Picture and Television Fund.
- In March 1990, Woodward’s star was placed on the “Walk of Western Stars” at the William S. Hart Museum and Park in Santa Clarita, California.
- In 1994, the Texas Arts Council presented Morgan with its Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award in his hometown of Arlington, Texas. The city also named a prominent street “Morgan Woodward Way”.
- In 1995, Woodward received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Western film acting from the “Wild West Film Festival” in Sonora, California.
- In 1997, Woodward celebrated 50 years in show business and was given the “International Star Award” in Los Angeles, California.
- In 2009, Woodward was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Woodward was married with one child.