Frank Sutton was an American actor, best known for playing ‘Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter’ in the series ‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.’ Born and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee, Frank became interested in acting at a tender age. He started acting in dramas at the age of 9. Following his high-school graduation, he began working as a radio announcer. He also enlisted in the ‘US Army’ during the Second World War. Following his stint with the army, he began stage acting yet again. He made his on-screen debut in 1950, with a supporting role in the series titled ‘Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.’ Throughout the 1950s, he continued to play small and supporting roles in series such as ‘The Edge of Night’ and ‘The Secret Storm.’ He gained recognition appearing in various roles in the series ‘The Untouchables.’ He had his acting breakthrough in 1964, playing ‘Vince Carter’ in the sitcom ‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.’ However, despite appearing in some acclaimed TV series, he never quite achieved the success he desired. Throughout his career, he also played supporting roles in films such as ‘Four Boys and a Gun’ and ‘The Satan Bug.’
Childhood & Early Life
Frank Sutton was born Frank Spencer Sutton, on October 23, 1923, in Clarksville, Tennessee, US, to Thelma and Frank Sims Sutton. He was the only child in the family. Both his parents worked at a local newspaper.
When he was 8 years old, the family moved to Nashville. His father worked at a different newspaper there. Shortly after, his father died of an intestinal disease, leading his mother to bring Frank up as a single mother.
Ever since he was a kid, Frank had a keen interest in acting. He performed in front of the crowd for the first time in Nashville, where he played a small role in a play at the age of 9. He also trained in judo back then.
While in high school, he continued to act and joined his school’s drama club. Following his high-school graduation, he enrolled at ‘Columbia University’ and studied dramatic arts, earning a major. He graduated “cum laude.”
All through this time, he continued to do theater. Following his high-school graduation, he began working as a radio announcer, for which he returned to Clarksville. During the Second World War, he served in the South Pacific, where he participated in 14 assault landings. He also served as a sergeant and won honors such as the ‘Bronze Star’ and the ‘Purple Heart.’
He also tried enlisting in the ‘Marine Corps’ but was rejected due to medical reasons.
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He made his on-screen acting debut with the series ‘Tom Corbett, Space Cadet’ in 1950. The series featured him in the supporting role of ‘Cadet Eric Raddison’ for the next 5 years, until 1955.
Meanwhile, he also made his film debut with the 1950 film ‘The Goldbergs,’ in which he played the role of ‘Dutch.’
In 1954, he made an appearance in the series ‘The Glenn Miller Story,’ but his role was so small that he was not even credited for it.
However, his performance as ‘Sgt. Fitzsimmons’ in the 1956 series ‘The Edge of Night’ was good enough to help him earn some critical acclaim. The series also received huge critical and commercial acclaim.
From 1958 to 1961, he appeared in a series titled ‘Naked City,’ which featured him in the supporting role of ‘Franklin Maquon.’
He earned the first lead role of his career in the 1957 film titled ‘Four Boys and a Gun,’ in which he played ‘Ollie Denker.’ The film received a small release in the US and was met with average critical acclaim.
He then appeared in the supporting role of ‘Joe Sullivan #2’ in the long-running American soap opera titled ‘The Secret Storm.’ He also appeared in the supporting role of ‘Chuck Snyder’ in the drama film titled ‘Town without Pity.’ The film starred ‘Kirk Douglas’ in the lead role and was a critical and commercial success.
In 1962, he played three roles in three different episodes of the series titled ‘Gunsmoke.’ He then appeared in a single-episode role in the series ‘The Twilight Zone,’ which turned into a cult classic later.
Following his supporting role in the series ‘Combat!’ in 1962, he appeared in multiple roles in the crime-drama series titled ‘The Untouchables.’ He appeared in the series ‘The Stryker Brothers,’ ‘The Contract,’ ‘The Speculator,’ and ‘The Butcher’s Boy.’
In 1963, he played a single-episode role in the series titled ‘The Fugitive.’ He played ‘Deputy Jackson’ in one of its episodes, titled ‘The Other Side of the Mountain.’
In 1965, he appeared in a key role in the science-fiction suspense film ‘The Satan Bug.’ He also played a guest role in the sitcom ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’
In 1964, he began appearing as ‘Sergeant Vince Carter’ in the popular American sitcom titled ‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.’ The series ran for five seasons and turned out to be one of the most successful series of the 1960s. It eventually earned the status of a cult classic.
In 1966, he made an appearance as a guest on the popular game show ‘Password.’ He also appeared on the TV variety show titled ‘The Jim Nabors Hour,’ as himself, in the late 1960s.
In 1970, he appeared in the American anthology comedy series titled ‘Love American Style.’ He played various roles in five episodes of the series. It also turned out to be his last TV appearance.
In 1974, he appeared posthumously in the film titled ‘Hurricane,’ which featured him as ‘Bert Pearson.’
Family & Personal Life
Frank Sutton married soap-opera writer Toby M Igler in 1946. The couple had two children, Joe and Amanda. Joe Sutton went on to become a popular playwright.
Frank was preparing for a comedy play titled ‘Luv’ on June 28, 1974, when he had a sudden heart attack. He passed away on the same day. He was buried in ‘Greenwood Cemetery’ in his hometown of Clarksville.