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Frank Sutton
Frank Sutton 1969.jpg
Sutton in a 1969 publicity photo
Frank Spencer Sutton

(1923-10-23)October 23, 1923
Died June 28, 1974(1974-06-28) (aged 50)
Resting place Greenwood Cemetery, Clarksville, Tennessee, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Columbia University (BS)
Television Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Spouse(s) Toby M. Igler
(m.1946–his death)
Children 2
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank US Army WWII SGT.svg Sergeant
Battles/wars World War II
  • Asiatic-Pacific Theater
Awards Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart

Frank Spencer Sutton (October 23, 1923 – June 28, 1974) was an American actor best remembered for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter on the CBS television series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..

Early life

Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Sutton developed an interest in acting, playing his first role at age nine and also starring in the drama club at East Nashville High School, where he graduated in 1941. He later said, "The first time I walked out on a stage, I had a warm feeling. I knew then I wanted to be an actor."

After high school, Sutton returned to Clarksville to become a radio announcer. During World War II, he volunteered for service in the U.S. Marine Corps, but he was medically rejected due to his color blindness. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the South Pacific, taking part in 14 assault landings. Sutton was a sergeant who served from 1943 to 1946 in the 293rd Joint Assault Signal Company. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Acting career

Honorably discharged after the war as a sergeant, he began acting on stage. He attended the Columbia University School of General Studies, graduating cum laude with a bachelor's degree in drama in 1952.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Sutton played small roles in television shows such as Decoy, Route 66, Naked City, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Fugitive, The Goldbergs, 87th Precinct, Gunsmoke, Target: The Corruptors, Empire, The Twilight Zone, and The Untouchables. He had a continuing role as Cadet Eric Rattison, the great rival of the Polaris Unit manned by the series' heroes, in Tom Corbett, Space Cadet from 1950 to 1955. In 1955, he received his big break in the Academy Award-winning movie Marty, in which he played the title character's friend, Ralph. He also had a role in The Satan Bug, a 1965 spy thriller. He returned to the stage in The Andersonville Trial in the early 1960s.

Jim Nabors Frank Sutton Gomer Pyle premiere 1964
Frank Sutton and Jim Nabors in the Gomer Pyle premiere, 1964

Having primarily acted in dramas, Sutton's breakthrough role was on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a 1964 episode of The Andy Griffith Show, in which he played the cynical and easily exasperated Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter opposite Jim Nabors' character Gomer Pyle. This episode was the pilot for a spin-off TV comedy, Gomer Pyle, USMC, where Sutton continued the role for five seasons, until the show ended its run in 1969. He also appeared in public service announcements in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Carter. After Gomer Pyle ceased production, Sutton appeared regularly on Nabors' variety show The Jim Nabors Hour with Gomer Pyle co-star Ronnie Schell. Sutton played the brother-in-law of Nabors' character in comedy sketches. Sutton performed in dinner theater, playing, among other roles, the father in Norman, Is That You? and made guest appearances on other television programs.

Personal life and death

In 1946, Sutton married soap-opera writer Toby M. Igler, with whom he had two children, Joe Sutton and Amanda.

On June 28, 1974, while preparing for a performance in the comedy play Luv at the Beverly Barn Dinner Playhouse in Shreveport, Louisiana, Sutton died of a heart attack. He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in his hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee.


Year Title Role Notes
1950 The Goldbergs Dutch
1955 Marty Ralph Uncredited
1957 Four Boys and a Gun Ollie Denker  
1961 Town Without Pity Sgt. Chuck Snyder  
1965 The Satan Bug Donald  
1974 Hurricane Bert Pearson Television movie released posthumously (final film role)
Year Title Role Notes
1950-1955 Tom Corbett, Space Cadet Cadet Eric Raddison  
1954 The Glenn Miller Story uncredited
1956 The Edge of Night Sgt. Fitzsimmons  
1958-1961 Naked City Franklin Maquon  
1960-1961 Deadline John McDowell Lead role in the episode "To Move a Mountain" (1960)
1960-1961 The Secret Storm Joe Sullivan #2  
1961-1962 Gunsmoke Charlie (1961)
Olie (1962)
Billy Marston (1962)
1962 Have Gun – Will Travel Davey Walsh One-time role – The Trap (1962)
The Twilight Zone Frank, Jerry's manager One-time role in episode "The Dummy"
1962-1963 Combat! Corporal Cording – The Chateau (1963)
1962-1963 The Untouchables Benny Stryker (1962)
Smiley Barris (1962)
Angie Stazak (1963)
Sgt. Davey McCain (1963)
  • The Stryker Brothers (1962) ... Benny Stryker
  • The Contract (1962) ... Smiley Barris
  • The Speculator (1963) ... Angie Stazak
  • The Butcher's Boy (1963) ... Sgt. Davey McCain
1963 The Fugitive (deputy) Jackson One-time role in episode 3 "The Other Side of the Mountain"
1963 Death Valley Days Diamondfield Jack Episode: Diamond Field Jack aired October 1, 1963
1964 The Andy Griffith Show Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter One-time role in episode "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."
1964-1969 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter  
1966 Password Himself Game show contestant / Celebrity guest star
1969-1971 The Jim Nabors Hour Himself
1970–1973 Love American Style Various Episodes:
  • Love and the Bonded Separation (1973)
  • Love and the Secret Life (1972)
  • Love and the Guru (1972)
  • Love and the Lady Barber(1971) ... Herb Redding
  • Love and the Haunted House (1970) ... Walter

See also

  • List of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. characters
  • List of people from Tennessee
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