Burt Mustin

Burt Mustin

Mustin with Queenie Smith from The Funny Side, 1971
Born Burton Hill Mustin
(1884-02-08)February 8, 1884
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died January 28, 1977(1977-01-28) (aged 92)
Glendale, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Bert Mustin
Alma mater Pennsylvania Military College
Occupation Actor
Years active 19211977
Spouse(s) Frances Robina Woods (m. 1915–69)

Burton Hill "Burt" Mustin (February 8, 1884[1][2] – January 28, 1977) was an American character actor.[3] Over the course of his career, Mustin appeared in over 150 film and television productions. He also worked in radio and appeared in stage productions.

Mustin began his professional acting career at the age of 67 after director William Wyler cast him in the 1951 film noir Detective Story. Known for his dependability and versatility, Mustin would go on to establish a career as a well-known character actor and worked extensively in film and television from the 1950s to the 1970s.[4]

Early life

Mustin was born in Pittsburgh to William I. and Sadie (Dorrington) Mustin. His father worked as a stockbroker. Mustin graduated from Pennsylvania Military College (renamed Widener University in 1972) in 1903 with a degree in civil engineering. He also played goaltender for their ice hockey team in 1902.[5] He worked as an engineer but later decided to go into sales. In 1916, Mustin began working as an automobile salesman selling Oakland Sensible Sixes. He later began selling the luxury Franklins. After the Franklin company went out of business, Mustin sold Mercurys and Lincolns until the car industry began to suffer due to World War II. He then worked as a fiscal agent for the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce.[6][7]

Before he began a professional career in show business, Mustin did amateur acting and performing. In 1921, he became the first announcer for a variety show broadcast on Pittsburgh's then newly established KDKA radio station. He appeared in productions in the Pittsburgh Savoyards (a Gilbert and Sullivan troupe) and the Pittsburgh Opera. He was also a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, making his first trip to California in 1925 to compete in a quartet competition being held in San Francisco.[4][6] During this trip the group with their wives made a visit to Hollywood as tourists but Mustin was not interested in a film career at that point because of his cozy life with his wife in Pittsburgh. They used their Lions Club contacts to secure lodging during the trip.

After retiring, Mustin moved to Tucson, Arizona. While living in Tucson, director William Wyler saw him in a stage production of Detective Story. Wyler told Mustin to look him up if he decided to pursue a screen career. Mustin contacted Wyler who cast him in the 1951 film version of Detective Story. After appearing in the film, Mustin's acting career took off and he began landing roles in films and television series. He later moved to Los Angeles.[1][7]



1950s and 1960s

Mustin made his television debut in 1951 with a role in the Western series The Adventures of Kit Carson. Almost from the start to the end of his career, Mustin specialized in playing older men, and with his tall scarecrow frame, bald head and beaked nose, became one of the most familiar and busy elderly character actors. Throughout the rest of the 1950s, he made guest appearances on Leave It to Beaver, The Abbott and Costello Show, The Loretta Young Show, Cavalcade of America, The Public Defender, Treasury Men in Action, The Lone Ranger, Fireside Theater, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Mackenzie's Raiders, Lux Video Theatre, Studio 57, Dragnet, Our Miss Brooks, It's a Great Life, The Gale Storm Show, General Electric Theater, Peter Gunn, and The Texan among many others. Mustin also starred in the TV series pilot episode of The Lone Wolf starring Louis Hayward in 1954.

In 1960, Mustin guest starred on The Twilight Zone in the episode "The Night of the Meek" alongside Art Carney. He also appeared in a second episode of the series, "Kick the Can" in 1962. In 1964, Mustin had an uncredited role in The Outer Limits episode "The Guests".

During the 1960s, Mustin also made multiple appearances on Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Ichabod and Me, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Dragnet, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Get Smart, The New Phil Silvers Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Dr. Kildare, The Jack Benny Program, Ben Casey, The Monkees, The Virginian, Cimarron Strip, My Three Sons, Batman (episode 48), and Bewitched. In 1969, he co-starred in the television film The Over-the-Hill Gang. Mustin also appeared in the sequel film The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again the following year.

In addition to guest starring roles, Mustin also had recurring roles on several television shows during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, he played the role of "Foley" in The Great Gildersleeve. From 1957 to 1958, he appeared as Mr. Finley on Date with the Angels. In 1957, he made his first appearance as "Gus the Fireman" on Leave It to Beaver. Mustin would continue in the role until 1962 making a total of 15 appearances on the show. In 1960, he made his first guest appearance on The Andy Griffith Show as Jud Fletcher. He appeared in the role until 1966. He also portrayed "Old Uncle Joe" on two episodes of The Lucy Show in 1967. The following year, Mustin guest starred as "Grandpa Jenson" on Petticoat Junction in three episodes.


During the 1970s, Mustin continued with guest roles on The Brady Bunch, Love, American Style, Adam-12, Emergency! and Sanford and Son (episode "Home Sweet Home for the Aged".)

Known for his quick wit and song-and-dance abilities, Mustin was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during the 1970s.[4] From 1971 to 1976, he appeared in five episodes of All in the Family (his first appearance as a night watchman, and an additional four appearances in a recurring role as "Justin Quigley"). In 1971, Mustin co-starred in the sketch comedy show The Funny Side. Hosted by Gene Kelly, the series featured an ensemble cast of five married couples that dealt with various issues through comedy sketches and song-and-dance routines. Mustin was cast opposite Queenie Smith as "the elderly couple". The series debuted on NBC in September 1971 and was canceled in January 1972.[8]

Mustin guest starred as Jethroe Collins, a relative of a Jesse James victim in the "Bobby's Hero" episode of the Brady Bunch during the 1972-73 season.

The next year, Mustin co-starred in the television film version of Miracle on 34th Street, starring Sebastian Cabot and had an uncredited role in the Disney television film Now You See Him, Now You Don't. Mustin's last continuing role was on the television series Phyllis, in which he played the suitor, and later husband, of Sally "Mother" Dexter, a role he played until shortly before his death.[9]


In addition to his extensive work in television, Mustin also appeared in numerous films. He made his film debut at the age of 67 in Detective Story, in 1951. Mustin followed with roles in Talk About a Stranger (1952), The Silver Whip (1953), Half a Hero (1953), She Couldn't Say No (1954), The Desperate Hours (1955), Man with the Gun (1955), Storm Center (1956), and The Sheepman (1958).

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mustin appeared in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960), Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962), Twilight of Honor (1963), What a Way to Go! (1964), The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964), Sex and the Single Girl (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Cat Ballou (uncredited as a former gunfighter "Old ... Old ... ?" )(1965), The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967), Speedway (uncredited) (1968), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), Hail, Hero! (1969), and Skin Game (1971). In 1974, Mustin portrayed "Uncle Jeff" in the musical film Mame, starring Lucille Ball and Bea Arthur. He also had a small role in Herbie Rides Again, also released in 1974. The next year, he appeared as "Regent Appleby " in The Strongest Man in the World. His final film role came in 1976 in the Western film Baker's Hawk, starring Clint Walker and Burl Ives.


In 2000 TVLand created a series of commercials celebrating the often seen but little known by name character actors who regularly appeared in their shows, Mustin being featured in one.

Personal life

Mustin was one of the 110 original founders of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Lions Club which was established in 1921. He served as one of the presidents and remained active in the club for the remainder of his life.[1]


Mustin married Frances Robina Woods in 1915. They remained married until Woods' death in 1969. The couple had no children.[1]


On January 28, 1977, Mustin died at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California, at age 92.[10] He was buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1951 The Last Outpost Marshal Uncredited
1951 Detective Story Willie Uncredited
1952 The Lusty Men Jeremiah Watrus
1953 One Girl's Confession Gardener
1954 Cattle Queen of Montana Dan
1955 The Desperate Hours Carl Uncredited
1956 Great Day in the Morning Doctor Uncredited
1957 Raintree County Old gent with "Flash" Uncredited
1958 Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! Town Moderator Uncredited
1959 The FBI Story Uncle Fudd Schneider Uncredited
1960 Home from the Hill Gas station attendant Uncredited
1961 Snow White and the Three Stooges Farmer Uncredited
1962 All Fall Down Second Tramp Uncredited
1963 Son of Flubber Bailiff Uncredited
1963 The Thrill of It All The Fraleigh butler
1964 The Killers Elderly Man
1965 Cat Ballou Accuser
1966 The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Mr. Deligondo Uncredited
1967 The Reluctant Astronaut Ned Uncredited
1968 Speedway Old man Uncredited
1969 A Time for Dying Ed
1971 Skin Game Liveryman in Fair Shake Uncredited
1972 Now You See Him, Now You Don't Mr. Reed Uncredited
1974 Mame Uncle Jeff
1975 Train Ride to Hollywood George
1976 Baker's Hawk General
Year Title Role Notes
1951 The Adventures of Kit Carson Dave Lowery Episode: "Fury at Red Gulch"
1953 The Stu Erwin Show Uncle Lucious Erwin Episode: "In the Shade of the Old Family Tree"
1954 Father Knows Best Old Eddie Gilbert Episode: "Grandpa Jim's Rejuvenation"
1955 The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin Jameson Penrose Episode: "The Legacy of Sean O'Hara"
1956 Science Fiction Theatre Mr. Stevenson Episode: "Brain Unlimited"
1957 State Trooper John Daka Episode: "Room Service for 321"
1957–1958 Date with the Angels Mr. Finley 5 episodes
1957–1962 Leave It to Beaver Gus the Fireman 15 episodes
1958 Maverick Henry Episode: "The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick"
1959 Peter Gunn Cab driver Episode: "The Rifle"
1959 Tombstone Territory Lucky Jack Oliver Episode: "The Black Diamond"
1960 The Dennis O'Keefe Show Grandpa Clayhipple Episode: "June Thursday"
1960 Mr. Lucky Uncle Billy Episode: "The Leadville Kid Gang"
1961 Thriller The Redcap Episode: "A Third for Pinochle"
1961-1966 Bonanza Various characters 4 episodes
1961–1966 The Andy Griffith Show Jud Crowley 14 episodes
1962 Shannon Mr. Munday Episode: "The Medal"
1963 The Dick Van Dyke Show Mr. Donald Lucas Parker Episode: " Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice"
1964 The Fugitive Charley Episode: "Nicest Fella You'd Ever Want to Meet"
1965 Hank Pete Episode: "Candidate"
1965 Get Smart Agent 8 Episode: "Dear Diary"
1966 Batman Old MacDonald Episode 48: "The Yegg Foes in Gotham"
1967 The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Jan Streich Episode: "The Moulin Ruse Affair"
1968 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Mr. Ferguson Episode: "Gomer Goes Home"
1968 Gunsmoke Uncle Finney Episode: "Uncle Finney"
1968 Dragnet (TV series) Charles Augustus William Smith Episode: "The Senior Citizen"
1969 The Good Guys Kiley Episode: "A Chimp Named Sam"
1969 Dragnet (TV series) Calvin Lampey Episode: "Homicide: DR 22"
1970 The Ghost & Mrs. Muir Mr. Homer Episode: "Pardon My Ghost"
1970-1974 Adam-12 Various characters 5 episodes
1971 The New Andy Griffith Show Mr. Ormstead Episode: "Glen Campbell Visits"
1971 All in the Family Harry Feeney Episode: "Archie is Worried About His Job"
1973 The Brady Bunch Jethroe Collins Episode: "Bobby's Hero"
1973 Sanford and Son Mr. Malloy Episode: "Home Sweet Home for the Aged"
1973–1976 All in the Family Justin Quigley 4 episodes
1974 Rhoda Sleeping Man Episode: "The Honeymoon"
1975 Switch Old man Episode: "The Deadly Missiles Caper"
1976 The Moneychangers Jack Henderson Miniseries
1976–1977 Phyllis Arthur Lanson 4 episodes


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Hollywood actor Mustin claimed by death at 92". St. Joseph News-Press. January 29, 1977. p. 2A. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  2. Koykka, Arthur S. (1986). Project Remember: ANational Index Of Gravesites Of Notable Americans. Reference Publications. p. 164. ISBN 0-917-25622-0.
  3. Obituary Variety, February 2, 1977, page 94.
  4. 1 2 3 "Burt Mustin". Boca Raton News. April 7, 1975. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  5. Widener University. "Burt Mustin". Widener University. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  6. 1 2 Smith, Cecil (June 5, 1971). "Mustin, Life Begins At 87". Toledo Blade. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  7. 1 2 "Burt Mustin Active, But Hollywood Isn't". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 5, 1970. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  8. Kleiner, Dick (November 28, 1971). "Contribution Of Burt And Queenie". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  9. "Burt Mustin, 92-year-old actor, is dead". Bangor Daily News. January 28, 1977. p. 33. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  10. "Actor Mustin dies at 92". The Telegraph-Herald. January 30, 1977. p. 2. Retrieved December 12, 2012.

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