By: Susan Harris, NewsOXY Reporter
09/03/2021 09:41 AM ET
Steve Franken died of cancer Friday at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Canoga Park. The actor had a long career but most famous for playing young millionaire Chatsworth Osbourne Jr. on the sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis."
The series, which aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963, starred Dwayne Hickman in the title role of the girl-crazy grocer's son, whose beatnik friend, Maynard G. Krebs, was played by Bob Denver.
The actor joined the series in 1960, replacing Warren Beatty, who had played Milton Armitage.
"Warren Beatty did about four or five shows and wanted to go do movies," Hickman told The New York Times. "Once he had done that, he wasn't going to come back and do 'Dobie Gillis.' But because he was gone, we got Steve, and he was wonderful."
His wife Jean said her husband was especially proud of his performance in director Blake Edwards' film "The Party," the 1968 comedy starring Peter Sellers, in which Franken played a drunken waiter who never speaks a word.
"He and Peter Sellers worked out most of the improvisations themselves for that," she said. "Blake let them go."
Franken was a versatile actor who studied at the Actors Studio in New York and later did a lot of theater work in Los Angeles, much of it dramatic.
Born in Queens, N.Y., on May 27, 1932, Franken graduated from Cornell University and launched his acting career against his parents' wishes.