Harry Landers, who co-starred in the popular 1960’s series Ben Casey as neurologist Dr. Ted Hoffman, has died. The actor passed in October at 96 years old.
Landers was born in New York City in 1921 as Harry Sorokin, the son of Russian immigrants and one of seven children. His Hollywood career began at Warner Brother Studios in the mid-1940s as a laborer. While there, an article ran in the company’s newsletter that mentioned his heroism during his time as a Merchant Marine. Bette Davis heard about it and asked to meet him. Ultimately, Davis arranged for Landers to get his SAG card and personally paid his initiation fee into the union, thus allowing him to work as a film extra.
That big break was followed by an invitation to join the Actor’s Lab, one of Hollywood’s most storied acting groups.
In the late 1940s into the ‘50s, Landers returned to New York City and started doing theater and live television. He was a contemporary of and friends with Marlon Brando, Wally Cox, Murray Hamilton, Ralph Meeker, Tige Andrews and Red Kullers, among others. It was a period he would later speak of with reverence, calling it the best time of his life.
Landers moved back to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s and started to hit his acting stride, booking roles regularly. While working on Medic with Richard Boone, he got to know Jim Mosher, the series’ head writer, who went on to pen the pilot for Ben Casey. He was cast as Ted Hoffman and also directed three episodes. Following the series’ successful five-year run (1961-1966), Landers continued to work in film and television.
His extensive resume includes episodes of such classic television series as Quincy M.E., Star Trek, Mannix, The Virginian, The Rat Patrol, Combat! Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dennis the Menace, The Untouchables, Have Gun-Will Travel and The Roy Rogers Show, among many others.
Landers is survived by his sons, Scott and Logan; his daughter-in-law Katherine; grandson Christopher; numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members; and his ex-wife, Jeanne Vaughn Thompson, an actress and runner-up Miss America.