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As the current coronavirus pandemic continues to shake up everyone's lives across the globe, there are more and more reports of deaths related to COVID-19, and Hollywood vets past and present are just as predisposed to being affected as anyone. One of the latest actors to succumb to coronavirus-related issues is Gomer Pyle: USMC, The Edge of Night and Twilight Zone actor Forrest Compton, who passed away on April 4 at 94 years old.
News of Forrest Compton's death came via his local paper, the Shelter Island Reporter, though next to zero details were offered up. It was only stated that the former actor had died at the hospital at around 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, and that close friends of Compton's had confirmed the death. It's noted in the story that Compton and another man, 74-year-old Kevin Brooks, were the first people in the area to die of COVID-19-related issues.
Forrest Compton's age certainly made him slightly more susceptible to the coronavirus pandemic. It's unknown, however, if the actor had any prior health issues that factored into his death.
While his acting career wasn't the most prolific for someone his age, Forrest Compton definitely managed to craft some memorable roles over the decades. Among comedy fans of the world, he was arguably best known for his portrayal of Col. Edward Gray on The Andy Griffith Show's spinoff Gomer Pyle: USMC, a role he held for all five seasons of the show. (He also portrayed a handful of other characters during the earliest days of Gomer Pyle's first season.) He also showed up on the other Andy Griffith spinoff, Mayberry R.F.D., as yet another character, and also. had a few memorable appearances on Hogan's Heroes.
On the dramatic side of things, Forrest Compton was easily best remembered for his 13 years of work as Mike Karr on the crime-driven soap opera The Edge of Night, with his run lasting from 1971-1984. (Fun fact: that show was also one of the earliest gigs for future Full House star Lori Loughlin.) Compton was also noteworthy for appearing as an ASW officer in the haunting Twilight Zone episode "The Thirty-Fathom Grave," which can be streamed on Hulu right now. Not to mention more sporadic roles in shows such as Mannix, The F.B.I., One Life to Live, The Invaders, 77 Sunset Strip and The Fugitive.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania on September 15, 1925, Forrest Compton later served as a young soldier fighting with the 103rd Infantry Division during World War II. Though his leg was wounded by a German mortar shell at one point, he was sent back into the fight less than two months later. It's no wonder why Compton managed to play so many military-based roles throughout his career.
After the war, Forrest Compton devoted more of his time to the art of acting, having gone to Yale Drama School, where he was at one point a classmate of Paul Newman. He first landed a commercial for Tavern Blue Cheese Crackers, though the small-scale production was memorably problematic, by his memory of it. Once he moved down to Los Angeles in the late '50s, though, he was able to build his portfolio by booking many of the parts that fans still know him for the best.
Below is a clip of Forrest Compton playing the President for the 1991 film McBain, which starred Christopher Walken.
After a handful of appearances in the soap operas All My Children and Loving in the early 1990s, Forrest Compton returned to the small screen for his final TV acting roles in 2001-2002 as part of Tom Cavanagh's underrated dramedy Ed.
CinemaBlend sends our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Forrest Compton during their time of mourning.