Lt. Commander Chip
Voyage to the Bottom
of the Sea
When Irwin Allen selected
Bob Dowdell to play the role of Lt. Comdr. Chip Morton in the
20th Century-Fox Television adventure-drama VOYAGE TO THE
BOTTOM OF THE SEA, he picked a young man whose first and only aim in
life was to be an actor.
"None of this fireman,
policeman, cowboy and baseball business," Dowdell commented. "Since
I appeared in the senior class play at Parker High School in
Chicago, I knew acting was for me."
Born in Park Ridge,
Ill., just outside Chicago, Dowdell attended public school,
high school and then matriculated at Weslyan University in
Connecticut on a scholarship, stayed a year and a half, then
entered the University of Chicago, also on
He left the
university to enter the army, and upon discharge, held a
number of jobs, including brakeman on a railroad, washing
airplanes, driving a cleaner's delivery truck, selling books,
working on an auto assembly line while waiting for his
His first role was in the
off-Broadway production "The Dybbuk."
"Doing the lead in (Dybbuk)
taught me one monumentally important thing," Dowdell recalls. "I
didn't know how to act." The producers of the drama came to the same
conclusion and after a month, Bob was replaced.
What money he had, Dowdell spent
on acting lessons from Wyn Handman, a highly regarded acting coach.
The lessons helped, and Dowdell was chosen for a small part in "Time
Limit" on Broadway.
He was introduced to Leslie
Stevens, who was casting his play, "The Lovers," for production by
the Playwrights Company. He landed a part along with Joanne Woodward
and Hurd Hatfield and the play was well received.
|| Arthur Penn, who had
directed "The Lovers," gave Dowdell his first opportunity to
tackle television in a "Studio One" segment that was a turning
point for the young actor.|
Another chance on Broadway in "Love Me Little" opposite Susan
Kohner, with Joanne Bennett and Donald Cook, and frequent TV
appearances followed, including "Kraft Theater," "Armstrong
Theater, an additional "Studio One" and others. John
Frankenheimer cast him in "The Midnight Sun," a drama headed
for Broadway, and then selected him to team with Richard
Burton and Maximilliam Schell in Hemingway's "The Fifth
Column," on the Buick Electra Playhouse.
That success was followed by
another Broadway stint, Viva Madison Avenue," with Buddy
Hackett. Next, Dowdell was cast in the difficult and pivotal
role of the German tutor in the national road company of "Five
Finger Exercise" opposite Jessica
While playing in "Five
Finger Exercise" at the Biltmore Theater in Los Angeles,
Dowdell was contacted by his friend from Broadway days, producer-director-writer
Leslie Stevens, who had just formed Daystar Productions. He asked
Dowdell to sign a contract and created the character of Cody Bristol
in "Stoney Burke," a continuing role on that series
that won a nationwide following and a ton of fan mail for Dowdell.
Real Name: Robert (Bob) Dowdell
Birth date: March 10
Weight: 168 lbs
LOVE ME A
THE MIDNIGHT SUN
VIVA MADISON AVENUE
MOMENT OF FEAR
VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE