For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Ben Alexander (actor).

Ben Alexander (actor)

Ben Alexander
Ben Alexander 1959.JPG
Alexander in 1959
Nicholas Benton Alexander III

(1911-06-27)June 27, 1911
DiedJuly 5, 1969(1969-07-05) (aged 58)
Years active1916–1969

Nicholas Benton "Ben" Alexander III (June 27, 1911 – July 5, 1969) was an American motion picture actor, who started out as a child actor in 1916. He is best remembered for his role as Officer Frank Smith in the Dragnet franchise.

Life and career

Ben Alexander as a child actor
Ben Alexander as a child actor

After a number of silent films, he retired from screen work, but came back for the World War I classic, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), in which Alexander received good notices as an adult actor as "Kemmerick", the tragic amputation victim.[1]

He found a new career as a successful radio announcer in the late 1940s, including a stint on The Martin and Lewis Show. Alexander also acted on radio, playing Philip West in the 1939–40 soap opera Brenthouse on the Blue Network.[2][3]

In 1952, Jack Webb, actor-producer-director of Dragnet, needed a replacement for Barton Yarborough, who had played Detective Romero opposite Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday. Webb selected Alexander, but had to wait until he was available. A few actors filled in as Friday's partners until Alexander appeared in the newly created role of Officer Frank Smith, first in the radio series, then reprised the role in film and on television. The popular series ran until 1959. When Webb revived it in 1966, he wanted Alexander to rejoin him, but Alexander had just signed to play the role of Sgt. Dan Briggs on the weekly ABC series Felony Squad.[3][4]

On July 5, 1969, Alexander was found dead of heart attack in his Los Angeles home when his wife and children returned from a camping trip.[4] He was cremated.[5]

For his contribution to the entertainment industry, Ben Alexander was awarded three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television, radio, and movies.[1][3]


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Ben Alexander" actor – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Alexander and his family in 1961, pictured are his daughter, Lesley, his son, Bradford, and his wife, Lesley.
Alexander and his family in 1961, pictured are his daughter, Lesley, his son, Bradford, and his wife, Lesley.

Alexander owned and operated the Ben Alexander Ford car dealership in the Highland Park neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles, from around 1953 until his death in 1969, and a San Francisco branch was formed in 1959.[6]

In the mid-1950s, Ben Alexander's Dream House Motel was located at 1815 North Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Alexander ran a talent show for young people out of Oakland. The Ben Alexander Talent Show was broadcast on Oakland's KTVU TV, a local station in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 1960, he was a semi-regular panelist on Ernie Kovacs' offbeat game show, Take a Good Look, as well as hosting his own daytime audience-participation show, About Faces, both airing on ABC.




  • Dragnet (Co-writer, 6 episodes)


  1. ^ a b Williford, Stanley O. (July 6, 1969). "Ben Alexander". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  2. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved October 29, 2019. Brenthouse, serial drama.
  3. ^ a b c "Ben Alexander". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. n.d. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "TV Actor Found Dead". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. July 7, 1969. p. 29. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  5. ^ Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14000 Famous Persons by Scott Wilson
  6. ^ "Ben Alexander Ford, Inc. of San Francisco". Business Profiles. Retrieved January 26, 2016.

Further reading

  • Hayde, Michael J. (2001). My Name's Friday: The Unauthorized but True Story of Dragnet. Cumberland House. ISBN 978-1581821901.
  • Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995, Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, pp. 49–51.
  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 4.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Ben Alexander (actor)
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Wikiwand 2.0 is here 🎉! We've made some exciting updates - No worries, you can always revert later on