Lonny Chapman


Lon Leonard Chapman (October 1, 1920 – October 12, 2007) was an American actor best known for his numerous guest star appearances on television drama series.

Lonny Chapman
Lonny Chapman in One Step Beyond.jpg
Chapman in 1961
Lon Leonard Chapman

(1920-10-01)October 1, 1920
DiedOctober 12, 2007(2007-10-12) (aged 87)
Alma materJoplin Junior College
University of Oklahoma (BFA)
OccupationActor, playwright
Years active1951–2001
Erma Dean
(m. 1944)

Early yearsEdit

Chapman was the son of Elmer and Eunice Chapman,[1] He was born on October 1, 1920,[2] in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but lived thereafter in Joplin, Missouri. He graduated from Joplin High School and, in 1940, from Joplin Junior College. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific during World War II.[3] In 1947, Chapman graduated with a BFA degree from the University of Oklahoma[4] at Norman. Then in 1947 he hitchhiked with Dennis Weaver, his best friend at the university, to New York City, where he landed the role of Turk in Come Back, Little Sheba.[3]


Chapman's first role on television was in 1951 on the series Starlight Theatre, playing the part of an arrogant high-school football player in an episode titled "Miss Bruell". Throughout the remainder of the 1950s, he continued to be cast in other series and gain experience in supporting roles. In 1958 he portrayed detective Jeff Prior in the NBC series The Investigator.[5]: 509  He appeared twice on the CBS series The Defenders from 1961 to 1965. Seven years later, he played another detective, Frank Malloy, in the CBS series For the People.[5]

Some of the other series in which Chapman appeared in supporting roles or as a guest star include Gunsmoke, Harbourmaster, The Rifleman, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Everglades, Decoy, Dundee and the Culhane, Mission: Impossible , Storefront Lawyers, Quincy, M.E., The A-Team, The Virginian, Matlock, NYPD Blue, Bonanza and Murder, She Wrote. In 1964 he also performed on Perry Mason, portraying a murderer, Jack Talley, in "The Case of the Tandem Target". He appeared as well in the 1966 episode "Lone Woman" of The Road West. Between 1972 and 1975, he guest-starred too in three episodes of NBC's McCloud, which starred his friend Dennis Weaver, whom Chapman had originally urged to go into show business. In the late 1970s, he appeared in the episode "The Waterhole" on The Oregon Trail (1977), the episode "Now You see Her..." on The Eddie Capra Mysteries (1978), and as the character L. Patrick Gray in the miniseries Blind Ambition (1979).


Chapman first film role was "Ernie the plumber" in the 1955 movie Young at Heart. During his lengthy career, his appearances include roles in East of Eden (1955), Baby Doll (1956), The Birds (1963), The Cowboys (1972), Where the Red Fern Grows (1974), Norma Rae (1979), 52 Pick-Up (1986) and Reindeer Games (2000).


Chapman debuted as a professional actor on stage in Chicago, where he portrayed Wiley as in a company presenting Mr. Roberts.[4] His first Broadway appearance was as a guard in The Closing Door (1949).[6] He also portrayed Tom in a revival of The Time of Your Life on Broadway and at the Brussels World's Fair.[4]

From 1956 to 1961, he taught acting in New York.[2] In 1973, he became artistic director of the non-profit Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood, California. In 1999, its name was changed to the Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre. During his tenure, the group presented more than 350 productions.[4]

Plays that he wrote included The Buffalo Skinner (1958), Cry of the Raindrop (1960), Hoot Sudie (1970), Go Hang the Moon (1974), Night at the Red Dog (1979), and Happy Days Are Here Again Blues (1979).[2]

During the summers of 1959 through 1967, Chapman directed and produced more that 80 plays in Fishkill, New York, and he acted in more than 30 of them.[4]


In the fall of 2005, Chapman was named "Outstanding Alumnus" at Missouri Southern State University, in his hometown of Joplin.[7] Chapman's best friend since his university days, fellow actor Dennis Weaver, had previously received that honor.[7]

Personal life and deathEdit

In 1944, Chapman married the former Erma Dean Gibbons of Joplin, Missouri. The couple remained married for 63 years and had two children: a daughter, Linda Dean, and a son, Wyley.[1][3] On October 12, 2007, at the age of 87, Chapman died of complications from heart disease at a care facility in North Hollywood.[8] His ashes were sprinkled into the Pacific Ocean.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1954 Young at Heart Ernie Nichols
1955 East of Eden Roy Turner - Automobile Mechanic Uncredited
1956 Baby Doll Rock
1963 The Birds Deke Carter - Diner Owner
1967 A Covenant with Death Musgrave
1967 Hour of the Gun Turkey Creek Johnson
1968 The Stalking Moon Purdue
1969 Take the Money and Run Jake - Convict
1969 The Reivers Maury McCaslin
1970 I Walk the Line Bascomb
1971 Welcome Home, Soldier Boys Danny's Father
1972 The Cowboys Homer's Father
1972 Run, Cougar, Run Harry Walker
1973 Running Wild Senator Frank Coombs
1973 Cotter
1974 Where the Red Fern Grows Sheriff
1974 Hurricane Pappy
1974 Earthquake L.A.P.D. Captain Uncredited
1976 The Witch Who Came from the Sea Long John
1976 Moving Violation Sheriff Rankin
1978 The Bad News Bears Go to Japan Louis the Gambler
1979 Norma Rae Gardner
1979 Hanging by a Thread Charles Minton
1980 When Time Ran Out Kelly
1980 Running Scared Pa Beecher
1981 Amy Virgil Goodloe
1982 The Border Andy
1983 Cave-In! Walt Charles
1986 52 Pick-Up Jim O'Boyle
1997 Nightwatch Old Watchman
2000 Reindeer Games Old Timer
2003 The Hunted Zander (final film role)


  1. ^ a b Staff writers (1951-09-23). "Lonny Chapman, Joplin Actor, Gets New Role on Television". The Joplin Globe. p. 2A. Retrieved 2019-03-03 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b c "Chapman, Lonny 1920(?)–". Encyclopedia.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Nelson, Valerie J. (2007-10-20). "Lonny Chapman, 87; theater company's artistic director". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Lonny Chapman". thegrouprep. Archived from the original on November 26, 2021. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  6. ^ "Lonny Chapman". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Outstanding Alum Award". Missouri Southern State University. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  8. ^ Simonson, Robert (2007-10-26). "Lonny Chapman, Broadway Actor and Theatre Leader, Dies at 87". Playbill. Retrieved 2019-03-03.

External linksEdit