James GregoryActor | Writer
One of the most beloved actors of all, James Gregory was born December 23, 1911, in the Bronx and grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. In high school, he was elected president of the Drama Club. He went to work on Wall Street as a runner shortly after the 1929 crash. James Gregory performed in drama groups and achieved pro status as a summer stock player in 1935. He performed in plays throughout New York, New Jersey and Maryland. His troupe of performers toured small towns in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, towing a trailer full of theatre props; they performed in school gyms, churches and YMCAs, earning $25 for a week of one-night stands. In 1939, James Gregory made his Broadway debut in a production of "Key Largo". Over the next 16 years, he performed in approximately 25 Broadway productions. (His career was interrupted by W.W.II; he served for 3 years in the Navy and Marine Corps. His tour of duty took him to the Pacific where he spent 83 days on Okinawa.) One good thing that came out of the war years is that he married Anne in 1944, and they would stay together always. During his Broadway career, James Gregory earned consistently favorable reviews by drama critics from the New York Press, Boston Globe, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Hollywood Reporter and Variety. James Gregory did a few TV spots as early as 1951, and in 1955 he made the transition from the Broadway stage to live television. The following year, after a couple of earlier uncredited movie appearances, he would also begin his movie career in earnest. He worked steadily throughout the early years of TV, working for major live television productions from New York to Hollywood. In 1959, James Gregory made television history by costarring in the pilot episode of the The Twilight Zone (1959); the episode "Where Is Everybody?" concerning the relevant topic of the USA winning the space race by sending a manned spaceship to the moon sold the series. James Gregory would play Dean Martin's exasperated boss MacDonald in the first 3 of the Matt Helm movies: The Silencers (1966), Murderers' Row (1966) and The Ambushers (1967). But he won his biggest acclaim as Inspector Frank Luger for the entire run of the TV series Barney Miller (1974) (1975-1982). This was his signature role; as the Inspector, he would be lovable, irritating, ingratiating, exasperating and humorous, sometimes all at the same time. He was Barney's buddy for 7 years, and the series ended with the Inspector getting himself a mail-order bride. James Gregory retired from acting in 1983, with over 100 TV and movie credits. He has entertained, uplifted and captivated us with his performances. He has endeared himself to a legion of fans. When asked to define his life's work, he simply said, "I am an actor". Fans would disagree with him. James Gregory is so much more -- role model and inspiration.