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About Edward Platt
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Hail To The Chief


Edward's Biography
Edward Platt was born February 16th, 1916 as Edward Cuthbert Platt( published reports list his birthday as Feb. 14th. According to his son Jeff, this mistake was made while Ed was in the Air Corps. However his family still celebrated it on the 14th) in Staten Island, New York. He was named after his grandfather and uncle(who died in WWI). As a boy he grew up in upstate New York around Lake Placid and Versailles, Kentucky where his family owned a tobacco farm(Dufont). He was the son of Capt. Abner Hunter Platt(who served in the Army) and Nora Shelby Catchings. Ed was one of four boys, he had two older brothers: Waddill & Hugh and a younger brother Stuart. Edward's father wanted him to be a stock broker but his mother wanted to nurture Edward's natural baritone voice. After attending the Woodberry Forest School and prestigious Northwood School in Lake Placid(where he was a member of the ski jump team), Edward listened to neither parent and studied romance languages at Princeton. Ed's father and 2 uncles were alumni. It is here that Edward became friends with actor Jose Ferrer, sang with the Glee club and was a member of the freshman crew. Edward left Princeton after a year to pursue a degree in music at the Conservatory of Music in Cinncinati. From there it was onto the prestigious Juilliard.


After Juilliard, Edward embarked on his singing career. According to a Playbill from the LaJolla Playhouse in California, Edward started as a bass in the Mozart Opera Company in New York and then the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. His first Broadway show, a Japanese Opera called "Mikado," bombed literally since it premiered a day or so after Pearl Harbor. It opened and closed in one day. He also appeared in such operettas as "H.M.S Pinafore" and "The Gandoliers." However, within a year, he gave it all up to work in radio. According to a playbill for "The Silver Whistle"(his 1st show with Jose Ferrer) Ed did voices for the radio show "The Greatest Story Ever Told."  Dennis Johnson, the author of Doug Macaulay's Character Actors website, said Edward also became a singer in Happy Fenton's band and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. During this time, Uncle Sam came calling and Edward served from 1942-1946 in the Army Air Corps as a radio operator. After the war he tried to put his beautiful voice to good use but a musical career was not exactly in the cards. Ed decided to pursue an acting career instead of a singing career. According to the 1969 Canadian TV magazine, CHBC TV Teleguide, Edward said, "I was discouraged to see people who were accepted as fine singers receive so very little financial compensation, compared with other professions and acting." Ed was able to show both his singing AND acting chops in 1947 in the Broadway musical "Allegro." He played the mayor, an ensemble singer and a minister.

This, plus Ed's friendship with actor Jose Ferrer(from Princeton) lead to a series of Broadway shows over the next five years: "The Silver Whistle"(as a minister), "Twentieth Century"(playing a train conductor and a red cap), "The Shrike"(Harry Downs) and the musical "Texas Lil' Darlin'"(playing 3 roles: William Dean Benson Jr., a Texas Ranger and Voice of 'Trend'). He also appeared in the National Touring Company of "Stalag 17"( chief prisoner "Hoffy" Hoffman an Air Corps man, which Ed really was during the war), one of Ed's more shocking roles. As chief ringleader of the American Prisoners, Ed's character "Hoffy" reportedly does more swearing than any other character Ed played in his career before or after(ironically Ed's character "Get Smart" was kidnapped in a two-part episode from Season 4 that mirrored "Stalag 17" almost exactly). In 1953, One of "Stalag 17's" stopovers included the LaJolla Playhouse in LaJolla California. The board members of the playhouse were actors Mel Ferrer(no relation to Jose Ferrer) and the late Gregory Peck. Edward later worked with Peck in the films "Designing Woman" and the original "Cape Fear."

It was around 1953 when Edward moved to Midland, Texas to be near his brother Hugh and his family.Ed found a new medium: television news. He worked for KMID, an NBC affiliate and he pretty much did it all. He was a news anchor, a co-host for a cooking show and the host of 2 children's shows: "Uncle Eddie's Kiddie Party" and "Six Gun Playhouse."  For the Kiddie Party show he actually set up a birthday party each day for 9 kids, had to clean up afterwards and deal with annoyed parents wanting to know why THEIR child couldn't be on the show. Years later Ed returned to Midland to do the Labor Day March Of Dimes Telethons.

I don't know the exact date when Ed moved to Hollywood. His first film role, according to imdb., was the 1949 Cary Grant movie "I Was A Male Warbride." Ed is uncredited and is listed on imdb as "lieutenant in Gate's Office." It is hard to tell if this really is Ed since the camera is panning. Also, imdb has been wrong in the past. His first credited film didn't come until six years later. Friend Jose Ferrer was turning his Broadway show, "The Shrike" into a feature film. He asked Ed to re-create the role of Harry Downs, the brother to Jose Ferrer's Jim Downs. In between those six years, Ed did the occassional tv appearance.

However it was his appearance in "The Shrike" that started the Hollywood ball rolling. Ed did dozens of movies in his first few years including a documentary-type film made in cooperation with the U-S Airforce and one for Cathedral Films which was started by an Episcopalian(Ed was an Episcopalian). In 1958, Jose came calling again. This time he was producing a Broadway musical with Tony Randall called "Oh Captain!" It was a very racy show, chock full of sexual inuendos. Cuban bandleader Xavier Cugat was chosen as co-star First Mate Enrico Manzoni(his wife Abbey Lane played the stripper Bobo). For the premise, Randall's Capt. Henry St. James is a proper husband in England and a rougue playboy in Paris, keeping a wife and a lover without them knowing about each other. His confidant is the older and wiser First Mate Enrico Manzoni who's been living it up much longer and could teach St. James a thing or two. Playboy magazine followed the show from conception to opening night and wrote an extensive article. It mentions that during rehersals, Jose was not happy with Cugat's performance and decided to find another actor to play Manzoni. That actor was Ed Platt. Here's how the conversation went with Jose(J) and partner Howard(H)Merrill according to Playboy May 1958:


(J)"We're replacing Cugie."
(H)"We're What?"
(J)"He Won't Do."
(H)"Who'll we get?"
(J)"I'm bringing in Eddie Platt from the coast."
(H)"Who the Hell Is Eddie Platt?"
(J)"You know who he is, for(expletive) sake. He was with me in The Shrike and about six other plays."
(H)"How much will he cost us?"
(J)"Not any more than Cugie---well maybe a little more."

If you're curious, The soundtrack for "Oh Captain" is available on CD and Edward does a fine job, though, he sounds a bit like Dracula with his accent. Still it's a fine example of how he could put so much meaning into his singing.The soundtrack for the Broadway show "Allegro" is also available and there's a cast picture in the CD liner notes which features Edward. It's a small picture but you can make him out(with hair) if you look closely.


The show lasted a few months and Ed returned to Hollywood. His movie and tv characters ran the gammut: from hard-knocks police officers or prosecutors to sympathetic fathers, lawmen, mobsters, murderers, townsfolk and school principals. He was often credited as Edward Platt, but sometimes Edward C. Platt or Ed Platt and friends referred to him as Eddie.

He possessed the greatest tool I think any actor can have: deep, soul searching eyes. One look from him and he conveyed more emotion than he ever could with a few lines of dialogue.

Ed played very few romantic roles(i.e. kissing onscreen) but when he did have a love scene you could hear the romance in his voice. Deep but slow, soft and gentle...he played excellent lovers.  It's a shame he didn't get more chances to perform such roles(good examples are "Surfside 6,"  "Get Smart" and "Bonanza").

Despite all the work he was getting, Ed's characters often had little dialogue or screen time. For example, his face is never shown in his appearance in "The Virginian." He played Stuart Brynmar, a burn victim, who is dressed all in black and only seen briefly. At the end of the episode his face is covered in black gauze and the camera only shot the back of his head as he recited his dialogue. Such apperances were frustrating to him. As he told the CHBC TV Teleguide, "People don't know your name or they haven't seen you. This is very injurious to the ego."

However, in 1965 Ed's luck changed and he was happy to land the role of the Chief in "Get Smart." Ed finally got the recognition he wished for. It's not that he was seeking fame and fortune, he just wanted the recognition of his talents. It's rare for an actor to reach that accomplislhment. However, for the first season he was not billed in the opening credits, only the end credits. After season one, his name came right after Barbara Feldon's, pushing Mel Brooks', Buck Henry's and Leonard Stern's name a bit back(Leonard's name was a victim of the phone booth, going down with Max.) Ed told CHBC Teleguide "I get a big kick out of comedy. It has been around for a long time. I'm sure when Adam found Eve he had something funny to say."  Ed had a great sense of humor which can be seen in the "Get Smart" bloopers. He had an infectious laugh, too.

Crew members from "Get Smart" have nothing but praise for Edward. He would be on the set even when he wasn't shooting his scenes. He would watch the dailies and congratulate everyone at the end of the day. He reveled in the "Get Smart" craze.  The show's Executive Producer Leonard Stern told me how he chose Edward for the role of Chief: "I saw him in ("Rebel Without A Cause") and I remembered being very impressed with that performance. When we started to cast the role I said, 'there's this actor,' I didn't know his name then, but his skills were indellibly etched in my mind. Ed was the sounding board for our comedy...we had that kind of talk and he was assuring me he understood this then suddenly out of the blue he broke out into song, and sang "Ol' Man River" in this amazing baritone voice...and showed me he could convert a mundain and conventional interview into fun. When he died he was one of those guys that was irreplacable."

After "Get Smart", roles were few and far between. Ed appeared in two more Leonard Stern productions: "The Governor And JJ" and "The Snoop Sisters." According to imdb.com, his last would be in the law drama "Owen Marshall, Counselor At Law."

During the early 1970's Edward turned to producing and even had his own company: Vagabond Productions which he co-owned with producer Deno Paoli. The two made a film called "Santee" which was also directed by "Get Smart" alum Gary Nelson. According to Ed's son, Ed loved Westerns(like "Shane") especially those with endearing characters. Plus, he wanted to make a film the whole family could see, as times were rapidly changing. "Santee" was an old formula Western and could not compete with the newer ones glorified by Clint Eastwood and so it didn't do well at the box office.

Personally, Edward was a private man, not one to talk about his personal life with anyone. Those who have interviewed him considered him to very humble and not one looking to get his name in the papers. He admitted to leading a boring life by just golfing and tooling around in his woodworking shop. A religious man, he was very involved in the Episcopal church, acting as usher at the church he attended in Beverly Hills. He said he often prayed for the other side during war and that racisim was bad. He didn't do many personal appearances on talk shows or game shows like Don Adams or Barbara Feldon. The only ones were "The Jerry Lewis Show," "Laugh-In," "The Mike Douglas Show"(where he sang "Ol' Man River" and talked about his interview with Leonard Stern;this is featured in the TVLand documentary on "Get Smart") and "Hollywood Squares." His "Hollywood Squares" episodes and others have mysteriously disappeared. There is a rumor that NBC did not have a proper archiving system in the 1960's and 1970's so they destroyed many of their films including most of the NBC versions of "Hollywood Squares." However this has not been substantiated. One of Ed's "Squares" appearances is featured in the Peter Marshall book, "Backstage With The Hollywood Squares." For some reason Ed is holding up a golf club as other squares are holding up some kind of memento.

Getting back to "Get Smart," Ed was quite different from the Chief. Edward's son told me that Ed smoked a pipe(which the Chief does in a few early episodes) but then turned to cigarettes, smoking about a pack of Parliaments a day(the Chief smokes about 7 times on-screen throughout the "Get Smart" run). Also, unlike the Chief who rarely drank in the show, Edward enjoyed an evening drink but stopped drinking all together during the run of "Get Smart", prefering Iced Tea instead.

On March 19th 1974, just a month after his 58th Birthday, Edward passed away in his apartment in Santa Monica, California. It was originally reported as a heart attack but Ed's family later revealed the sad truth...suicide. It is also noted that Don Adams knew the true cause of death.  This was Ed's third suicide attempt and there were reports Ed was having financial troubles and suffered from undiagnosed depression. Sadly, in a TV Guide interview Ed said he did not like seeing someone in their own private unhappiness, it made him cry. Yet, he endured his own private unhappiness to which no one could seem to help him out of.

Ed was married to Virginia Jean Beeler but it ended in divorce. They had one child, a daughter. In 1954, Ed married his second wife Suzanne. They had a daughter and two sons but the marriage ended and divorce papers were filed in 1973. Ed was cremated and his ashes scattered along the Pacific Ocean.

If you want more detailed information about Edward's TV appearances, check out my links section.