Robert J. Wilke: American actor (born: 1914 - died: 1989) | Biography
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Robert J. Wilke
American actor

Robert J. Wilke

Robert J. Wilke
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
A.K.A. Robert Wilke, Bob Wilkie
Was Actor Television actor Film actor Athlete Golfer
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Sports
Gender male
Birth 18 May 1914, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Death 28 March 1989, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 74 years)
Star sign Taurus
The details (from wikipedia)


Robert J. Wilke (May 18, 1914 – March 28, 1989) was an American film and television actor noted primarily for his roles as villains, mostly in Westerns.

Early years

Wilke was a native of Cincinnati. Before going into acting, he had a variety of jobs, including working in a high-dive act at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933-1934.


Wilke started as a stuntman in the 1930s and his first appearance on screen was in San Francisco (1936). He soon began to acquire regular character parts, mainly as a heavy, and made his mark when, along with Lee Van Cleef and Sheb Wooley, he played one of the "three men waiting at the station" in High Noon (1952).

Television westerns

Wilke appeared in many, if not most, television westerns, including seven episodes each of NBC's Laramie and CBS's Gunsmoke.

He appeared eight times from 1951-1953 on the syndicated western series The Range Rider, starring Jock Mahoney and Dick Jones. He was a guest star five times thereafter on Cheyenne, five times on Bonanza, four times on Wagon Train and Death Valley Days, and three times on Clint Eastwood's Rawhide, Duncan Renaldo's The Cisco Kid, Pat Conway's Tombstone Territory, and Fess Parker's Daniel Boone. He appeared twice on The Virginian, Cimarron Strip, and The Guns of Will Sonnett, and once on Barry Sullivan's The Tall Man, Kirby Grant's Sky King, Andrew Duggan's Lancer, Robert Conrad's The Wild Wild West, and the ABC family western The Monroes.

Wilke appeared as a dishonest fight promoter in the 1958 episode "The Fighter" of NBC's western series, Bat Masterson, having engaged on screen in fisticuffs with Gene Barry, who played Masterson.

In 1960 Wilke was cast as Red Dog Hanlon in the episode "End of a Dream" of the NBC western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Noah Beery, Jr. In the story line, Cliff Robertson, as con man Martinius Van Der Brig, persuades series character Grey Holden (McGavin) to transport by riverboat a group of pioneers to "Rolling Stone", a tract of land which he recently purchased that cannot match the expectations of the settlers.

In 1961 Wilke appeared as Gil Fletcher, a corrupt marshal in Billings, Montana, in the episode "The Fatal Step" of NBC's Laramie. Fletcher tries to steal the $20,000 payroll taken in a stage robbery by Wes Darrin (played by Dennis Patrick) and a younger partner, Tad Kimball (Gary Clarke, later a regular on The Virginian). Series character Jess Harper, played by Robert Fuller, is riding shotgun on the stage. Kimball regrets taking part in the crime and tries belatedly to make amends, as Fletcher tries to seize the loot stashed in an abandoned mine by Darrin and Kimball. Series character Slim Sherman, played by John Smith, shoots Fletcher in self-defense and remarks that he had never before drawn on a lawman and hoped never again to shoot at a badge. On the 04/19/1962 episode of My Three Sons he played a golf pro whom Robbie Douglas caddies for In the 1965-66 television season Wilke played Marshal Sam Corbett, in the 34-episode ABC western series The Legend of Jesse James, who (in vain) tried to capture the outlaws Jesse James and his brother Frank James. Ann Doran co-starred as the James boys' mother Zerelda James Samuel. In 1960 Wilke played Jesse James' associate Cole Younger in the short-lived NBC western series Overland Trail with William Bendix and Doug McClure. In his only appearance on Perry Mason, Wilke played Deputy Sheriff Connors in the 1963 episode "The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito."

Wilke played a hired gun in The Far Country (1954) and continued to work steadily in films and television over the next 20 years. More western credits followed in Man of the West (1958) and numerous lesser-known films.

In 1960 Wilke had a small but memorable part in The Magnificent Seven as the railroad bully, Wallace, who was quickly killed off by James Coburn in the memorable gun vs. knife fight. He had an unusually sympathetic (and large) role in Days of Heaven (1978) as farmer Sam Shepard's ally, the farm foreman.

In 1966 Wilke was cast as the courageous Sheriff McBain in the episode "Brute Angel" of the syndicated western series Death Valley Days, hosted by Robert Taylor. In the story line McBain must arrest young cutthroat Sam Bolt (Sherwood Price) and transport him stand trial for murder in Denver. McBain prays for divine intervention; his friend Pony Cragin (Jim Davis) hears the prayer and removes bullets from Bolt's gun prior to the arrest attempt. Jean Engstrom is cast as McBain's wife, Esther.

Wilke guest-starred on many other television westerns, including Maverick, Tales of Wells Fargo, Have Gun – Will Travel, Bronco, The Westerner, Cheyenne, Lawman, Wanted Dead or Alive, Zorro, The Rifleman, and The Untouchables 1962 episode "The Eddie O'Gara Story" playing vicious gangster George "Bugs" Moran.

Other roles

Outside of westerns, Wilke appeared in such films as From Here to Eternity (1953) and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). In the former film, Wilke’s character tells Maggio he has guard duty, which begins a series of events leading to the plot’s climax. In the later film, he was cast as the first mate of the Nautilus. It is Wilke who, in the film, warns Captain Nemo that a giant squid is approaching the ship, and who utters the line, "We understand, sir, and we're with you", when Nemo announces his final intentions.

His drama/adventure roles included U.S. Marshal, Peter Gunn, Tarzan, Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Untouchables. In 1953 Wilke, playing a henchman for an East European counterfeiter, shoved John Hamilton and George Reeves into side-by-side steam cabinets, locked them in, turned up the thermostat to charbroil and left them to bake in "Perry White's Scoop", an episode of the popular series Adventures of Superman.

Wilke played Deputy Sheriff Connors in the 1963 episode, "The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito" on CBS' Perry Mason. He demonstrated his versatility by portraying golf professional Danny Donnigan in a 1962 episode, "Robbie the Caddie", on Fred MacMurray's ABC sitcom, My Three Sons (in real life Wilke was an expert golfer, and his friend actor Claude Akins noted that Wilke made more money on the golf course than he ever did as an actor). In 1964 Wilke played Tom Carter, the golf instructor of Lucy Carmichael (Lucille Ball), in The Lucy Show episode "Lucy Takes Up Golf".

Wilke's final film role was somewhat against type as Gen. Barnicke in the 1981 comedy Stripes.


Wilke was an excellent golfer. Author Dan Jenkins, in his book The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate, describes a golf match at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles:

Mr. Wilke joined Mr. Jenkins, Vic Damone, James Garner, Jack Ging, Glen Campbell, Donald O'Connor, and Lindsay Crosby in the first and only Sports Illustrated Open Invitation at Riviera. The pro at Riviera at the time, Mac Hunter, is quoted as saying, "Bob Wilke used to be head and shoulders better than any of the actors and personalities. And he's still very good. A solid four handicap, but his putting is deteriorating. Wilke must have won more celebrity tournaments than you can count.

Ging edged out Bob Wilke for the win that day. James Garner also said that Wilke was the best golfer among the showbiz crowd at the Riviera in his book The Garner Files.

In 1966, Wilke was rated the best amateur golfer in Hollywood. In 1960, 1963, and 1964, he won the World Entertainment Championship golf title.

Selected filmography

  • San Francisco (1936) as Earthquake Survivor (uncredited)
  • King of the Texas Rangers (1936)
  • That Man's Here Again (1937) as Extra in Park (uncredited)
  • San Quentin (1937) as Young Convict in Yard (uncredited)
  • S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937) as Seaman (uncredited)
  • Renfrew of the Royal Mounted (1937) as Mountie at Picnic (uncredited)
  • International Crime (1938) as Bar Patron (uncredited)
  • The Fighting Devil Dogs (1938) as Marine in Shanghai (uncredited)
  • Come On, Rangers (1938) (uncredited)
  • Woman Doctor (1939) as Ambulance Driver (uncredited)
  • Star Reporter (1939) as Reporter (uncredited)
  • Street of Missing Men (1939) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Man of Conquest (1939) as Texican (uncredited)
  • S.O.S. Tidal Wave (1939) as Man in TV Studio (uncredited)
  • Daredevils of the Red Circle (1939) as G-Man (uncredited)
  • In Old Monterey (1939) as Man on Wagon (uncredited)
  • Jeepers Creepers (1939) as Gangster
  • In Old Missouri (1940) as Hillbilly (uncredited)
  • Grand Ole Opry (1940) as Hillbilly (uncredited)
  • Adventures of Red Ryder (1940) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Hit Parade of 1941 (1940) (uncredited)
  • Country Fair (1941)
  • Power Dive (1941) as Barfly (uncredited)
  • Sierra Sue (1941) as Carnival Spectator (uncredited)
  • Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (1941) as Cutter Helmsman (uncredited)
  • Spy Smasher (1942, Serial) as Chief Government Agent [Chs. 1-2, 10-11] (uncredited)
  • Bells of Capistrano (1942) as Roustabout (uncredited)
  • The Masked Marvel (1943, Serial) as Rental Garage Thug (uncredited)
  • Overland Mail Robbery (1943) as Shack Guard (uncredited)
  • Pistol Packin' Mama (1943) as Bodyguard (uncredited)
  • California Joe (1943) as Barfly (uncredited)
  • The Fighting Seabees (1944) as Arriving Construction Worker (uncredited)
  • Captain America (1944) as Thug with B-10 [Ch. 4] (uncredited)
  • Beneath Western Skies (1944) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Hidden Valley Outlaws (1944) as Rancher (uncredited)
  • Rosie the Riveter (1944) as Furniture Mover (uncredited)
  • Cowboy and the Senorita (1944) as Townsman (uncredited)
  • The Tiger Woman (1944) as Hill Heavy 1[Ch. 2] / Road Heavy (uncredited)
  • The Yellow Rose of Texas (1944) as Deputy (uncredited)
  • Marshal of Reno (1944) as Deputy (uncredited)
  • Call of the Rockies (1944) as Deputy Jim (uncredited)
  • Bordertown Trail (1944) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • The San Antonio Kid (1944) as Henchman
  • Haunted Harbor (1944) as 1st Bartender [Ch. 1] (uncredited)
  • Stagecoach to Monterey (1944) as Barfly (uncredited)
  • Cheyenne Wildcat (1944) as Deputy Charlie (uncredited)
  • Code of the Prairie (1944) as Office Henchman (uncredited)
  • Sheriff of Sundown (1944) as Bradley - Henchman
  • Vigilantes of Dodge City (1944) as Henchman
  • Zorro's Black Whip (1944) as Bill Slocum (uncredited)
  • Faces in the Fog (1944) as Photographer (uncredited)
  • Firebrands of Arizona (1944) as 3rd Deputy (uncredited)
  • The Big Bonanza (1944) as Rancher (uncredited)
  • Sheriff of Las Vegas (1944) as Barfly (uncredited)
  • The Topeka Terror (1945) as Lynch-Mob Member
  • Great Stagecoach Robbery (1945) as Stage Guard (uncredited)
  • Sheriff of Cimarron (1945) as Dobie - Henchman
  • Earl Carroll Vanities (1945) as Cab Driver (uncredited)
  • Corpus Christi Bandits (1945) as Steve - Henchman
  • Lone Texas Ranger (1945) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Santa Fe Saddlemates (1945) as Rawhide
  • Bells of Rosarita (1945) as Deputy (uncredited)
  • The Chicago Kid (1945) as Detective (uncredited)
  • The Man from Oklahoma (1945) as Chauffeur (uncredited)
  • Trail of Kit Carson (1945) as Dave MacRoy
  • Hitchhike to Happiness (1945) as Stage Hand (uncredited)
  • The Purple Monster Strikes (1945) as Dr. Harvey's Assistant (uncredited)
  • Bandits of the Badlands (1945) as Keller - Henchman
  • Sunset in El Dorado (1945) as Curley Roberts - Henchman
  • Rough Riders of Cheyenne (1945) as Smoke - Henchman
  • The Daltons Ride Again (1945) as Posseman (uncredited)
  • The Phantom Rider (1946) as Indian Rebel 1 (uncredited)
  • Roaring Rangers (1946) as Outlaw Leader (uncredited)
  • The Catman of Paris (1946) as The Catman (uncredited)
  • The Wife of Monte Cristo (1946) as Minor Role (uncredited)
  • King of the Forest Rangers (1946, Serial) as Carleton - Forest Ranger [Chs. 1, 4-5, 9] (uncredited)
  • Badman's Territory (1946) as Deputy Marshal (uncredited)
  • Passkey to Danger (1946) as Police Sergeant (uncredited)
  • Traffic in Crime (1946) as Hogan's Driver
  • Rendezvous with Annie (1946) as MP (uncredited)
  • Daughter of Don Q (1946) as Smith (uncredited)
  • Inner Circle (1946) as Cummings - Police Officer
  • White Tie and Tails (1946) as Starter (uncredited)
  • The Crimson Ghost (1946, Serial) as Scott - Armored Car Driver [Ch. 3] (uncredited)
  • Out California Way (1946) as Nate (uncredited)
  • The Pilgrim Lady (1947) as Doorman (uncredited)
  • The Michigan Kid (1947) as Pool Player (uncredited)
  • The Ghost Goes Wild (1947) as Burglar
  • West of Dodge City (1947) as Adams - Henchman (uncredited)
  • Twilight on the Rio Grande (1947) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Buck Privates Come Home (1947) as GI Buddy (uncredited)
  • Law of the Canyon (1947) as Knife-Throwing Henchman (uncredited)
  • The Vigilantes Return (1947) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Web of Danger (1947) as Station Wagon Driver (uncredited)
  • Blackmail (1947) as Policeman (uncredited)
  • The Black Widow (1947) as Cabbie / Jailer (uncredited)
  • Last Days of Boot Hill (1947) as Bronc Peters (uncredited)
  • Frontier Outpost (1948)
  • Six-Gun Law (1948) as Larson - Henchman (uncredited)
  • G-Men Never Forget (1948, Serial) as Steele - Phony Detective [Ch. 5] (uncredited)
  • The Wreck of the Hesperus (1948) as Milton (uncredited)
  • West of Sonora (1948) as Brock - Henchman (uncredited)
  • Dangers of the Canadian Mounted (1948) as Cpl. Baxter (uncredited)
  • Carson City Raiders (1948) as Ed Noble
  • River Lady (1948) as Man (uncredited)
  • Daredevils of the Clouds (1948) as Joe
  • A Southern Yankee (1948) as Confederate Soldier Ordering Cease Fire (uncredited)
  • Trail to Laredo (1948) as Duke - Henchman (uncredited)
  • Desperadoes of Dodge City (1948) as Land Agent Runner (uncredited)
  • Sundown in Santa Fe (1948) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Homicide for Three (1948) as Policeman (uncredited)
  • Federal Agents vs. Underworld, Inc. (1949, Serial) as Zod - Pursuit Plane Pilot [Chs. 10-11]
  • Ghost of Zorro (1949) as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Death Valley Gunfighter (1949) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Laramie (1949) as Cronin (uncredited)
  • The Wyoming Bandit (1949) as Sam - Henchman
  • Flaming Fury (1949) as Patrolman (uncredited)
  • The James Brothers of Missouri (1949) as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Post Office Investigator (1949) as Policeman (uncredited)
  • The Traveling Saleswoman (1950) as Loser (uncredited)
  • The Blonde Bandit (1950) as Det. Walker
  • Mule Train (1950) as Bradshaw - Henchman (uncredited)
  • The Kid from Texas (1950) as Henchman (uncredited)
  • Twilight in the Sierras (1950) as Bus Driver (uncredited)
  • Outcast of Black Mesa (1950) as Curt - Henchman
  • Kill the Umpire (1950) as Cactus (uncredited)
  • Beyond the Purple Hills (1950) as Jim Conners - Henchman (uncredited)
  • The Desert Hawk (1950) as Camel Driver (uncredited)
  • Across the Badlands (1950) as Duke Jackson / Keno Jackson
  • Frontier Outpost (1950) as Krag Benson
  • Vengeance Valley (1951) as Cowhand (uncredited)
  • Saddle Legion (1951) as Hooker - Henchman
  • GunPlay (1951) as Henchman Winslow
  • No Questions Asked (1951) as Police Sergeant (uncredited)
  • Best of the Badmen (1951) as Jim Younger
  • Cyclone Fury (1951) as Bunco - Henchman
  • Pistol Harvest (1951) as Andy Baylor
  • Hot Lead (1951) as Stoney Dawson
  • Overland Telegraph (1951) as Bellew - Henchman
  • Indian Uprising (1952) as Taggart Man (uncredited)
  • The Las Vegas Story (1952) as Clayton
  • Road Agent (1952) as Slab Babcock
  • Laramie Mountains (1952) as Henry Mandel (uncredited)
  • Carbine Williams (1952) as Guard on Train (uncredited)
  • High Noon (1952) as Jim Pierce
  • Hellgate (1952) as Sgt. Maj. Kearn
  • Cattle Town (1952) as Keeno
  • Fargo (1952) as Link - Henchman
  • Wyoming Roundup (1952) as Wyatt - Henchman
  • The Maverick (1952) as Massey
  • Cow Country (1953) as Sledge
  • Powder River (1953) as Will Horn
  • Arrowhead (1953) as Sgt. Stone
  • From Here to Eternity (1953) as Sgt. Henderson (uncredited)
  • War Paint (1953) as Trooper Grady
  • The Lone Gun (1954) as Hort Moran
  • Two Guns and a Badge (1954) as Moore - Outlaw
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) as First Mate of the Nautilus
  • Death Valley Days (1955, Two Gun Nan)
  • The Far Country (1955) as Madden
  • Smoke Signal (1955) as 1st Sgt. Daly
  • Strange Lady in Town (1955) as Karg
  • Shotgun (1955) as Bentley
  • Son of Sinbad (1955) as Musa (uncredited)
  • Wichita (1955) as Ben Thompson
  • Tarantula (1955) as Ranch Hand (uncredited)
  • The Lone Ranger (1956) as Cassidy
  • Backlash (1956) as Jeff Welker
  • Raw Edge (1956) as Sile Doty
  • The Rawhide Years (1956) as Neal
  • Canyon River (1956) as Joe Graycoe
  • The Vagabond King (1956) as Officer of the Day (uncredited)
  • Gun the Man Down (1956) as Matt Rankin
  • Cheyenne (1956) 'Mustang Trail' as Jed Begert
  • Written on the Wind (1956) as Dan Willis
  • Hot Summer Night (1957) as Tom Ellis
  • Night Passage (1957) as Concho
  • The Tarnished Angels (1957) as Hank
  • Return to Warbow (1958) as Red
  • Man of the West (1958) as Ponch
  • Never Steal Anything Small (1959) as Lennie
  • Spartacus (1960) as Guard Captain
  • The Magnificent Seven (1960) as Wallace
  • Blueprint for Robbery (1961) as Capt. Swanson
  • The Long Rope (1961) as Ben Matthews
  • Death Valley Days (1962) 'Susie' as Sergeant Brill
  • The Gun Hawk (1963) as Johnny Flanders
  • Shock Treatment (1964) as Technician Mike Newton
  • Fate Is the Hunter (1964) as Stillman
  • Death Valley Days (1965) 'The Journey' as Sergeant Wilks
  • The Hallelujah Trail (1965) as Chief Five Barrels
  • Morituri (1965) as Cmdr. Kelling (uncredited)
  • Smoky (1966) as Jeff Nicks
  • Tony Rome (1967) as Ralph Turpin
  • The Cheyenne Social Club (1970) as Corey Bannister
  • A Gunfight (1971) as Marshal Tom Cater
  • The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler (1971) as Hugh Fielding
  • The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) as The Sheriff
  • Santee (1973) as Deaks
  • Days of Heaven (1978) as The Farm Foreman
  • The Sweet Creek County War (1979) as Lucas Derring
  • The Great Monkey Rip-Off (1979) as Zaerbo
  • Stripes (1981) as Gen. Barnicke (final film role)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 25 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is Robert J. Wilke?
A: Robert J. Wilke was an American film and television actor who was active in the industry from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. He was best known for his roles in Western films, often portraying villains.
Q: When and where was Robert J. Wilke born?
A: Robert J. Wilke was born on May 18, 1914, in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.
Q: What were some of Robert J. Wilke's notable films and television shows?
A: Robert J. Wilke appeared in numerous films and television shows throughout his career. Some of his notable film credits include "High Noon" (1952), "The Far Country" (1954), and "The Magnificent Seven" (1960). He also had roles in popular television shows such as "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason," and "Bonanza."
Q: Did Robert J. Wilke serve in the military?
A: Yes, Robert J. Wilke served in the United States Navy during World War II. He enlisted in 1942 and was honorably discharged in 1945.
Q: What was Robert J. Wilke's cause of death?
A: Robert J. Wilke passed away on March 28, 1989, at the age of 74. The cause of his death was complications from diabetes.
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