As we continue looking at some of our well-known character actors, today we consider the career of Milton Frome. Frome was born in Philadelphia in 1909. He began acting in his mid-20s.
His first major movie role was in Ride ‘em Cowgirl in 1939. Frome would go on to appear in 55 movies (including The Nutty Professor, Bye Bye Birdie, and With Six You Get Eggroll), as well as five made-for-TV movies. He also had a thriving television career beginning with Chevrolet Tele-Theatre in 1950.
Appearing in 34 different shows during the fifties, he performed in a variety of genres including dramas, comedies and westerns.
During that decade you would have seen him on I Love Lucy, Lassie, The Adventures of Superman, Playhouse Theater, The Thin Man, and The Gale Storm Show. He also worked with many comic legends on television, including Milton Berle, Red Skelton, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
His career escalated in the sixties when he would accept roles in 48 programs. He showed up in dramas, including The Twilight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip, and Dr. Kildare. He also found his way into many westerns such as Bat Masterson, Death Valley Days, Gunslinger, Big Valley, Rawhide, and Wagon Train. However, he seemed to excel at comedies and during the 1950s you could have spied him in many sitcoms. He accepted parts in Bachelor Father, Pete and Gladys, The Jim Backus Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mister Ed, The Joey Bishop Show, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favorite Martian, The Donna Reed Show, Gomer Pyle USMC, Bewitched, The Monkees, The Patty Duke Show, Petticoat Junction, and The Andy Griffith Show.
Frome was never offered a permanent role in a series, but he did have a recurring role in The Beverly Hillbillies, appearing eight times as Lawrence Chapman, who managed Jed Clampet’s Mammoth Studios.
His television career slowed down a bit in the 1970s and became nonexistent by 1983, but he did make appearances in shows like Ironside, Columbo, Here’s Lucy, The Streets of San Francisco, Sanford and Son, and Trapper John MD. He also appeared in two Love American Style episodes in 1971 and 1973. In the 1973 episode, “Love and the Anniversary,” he played “The Man” and his son Michael played a bellhop.
At some point, Frome married Marjorie Ann Widman, but I could not verify when they married. I also could not verify if Michael was their son, or his son from another relationship.*
Frome passed away in 1989 from congestive heart failure.
While it is now easy to analyze and detail an actor’s professional career, it was very tough to find any information about Frome’s personal life or his working relationships with other actors. It makes me sad that these hard-working actors who provided so much to our classic television-watching experiences are just not well known. Hopefully blogs like mine keep them in television viewers’ memories, and some day maybe I will have time to write a book about these unsung heroes of our pop culture history. Thanks for all you contributed to the golden age of television Milton Frome!
*In June of 2021, I heard from Jane Wallace Casey who provided some additional information for us: “I am Milton Frome’s niece. His first wife was Barbara Wallace with whom he had his son Michael.”
12 thoughts on “Milton Frome: What a Character!”
He appeared in a ton of shows. And thanks to the blog I’m starting to recognize a lot of them! That is weird that you couldn’t find more information on him. Seems like you should be able to find what year he was married and who he had his son with. I guess I will have to get started on my memoir soon!
It would be a fun book. Maybe a road trip to Madison for their classic television archives.
Surprised he was never a regular on a show. Remember him from a lot of shows. Sad to hear there isn’t much information on his life.
It really would be a fun book to write about the top 20 or 25.
I am Milton Frome’s niece. His first wife was Barbara Wallace with whom he had his son Michael.
Thank you so much for the information. I really enjoy watching your uncle in his classic performances. Thanks for reading and providing us with more facts.
I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife about year before he died on a cruise ship in 1988. I sat at the same table as him each day on the dining hall and we would tell stories of his time working with Milton Berle and his many roles. He gave me a signed copy of his headshot on the last day of the cruise.
Back then we did not have easy access to an actors full filmography, but periodically I would see him in a rerun of a 60s TV show. Having not been alive during the Milton Berle show run, I did not have an awareness of him when he was at his most active. There was an actor on the boat that was prepping for a role in Les Miserables and I remember him coming to the table to pay his respect and say he “teethed” on the Milton Berle show as a child and it had a strong influence when he became an actor.
Thanks for the focus on Mr Frome. He was a very humble man and sure would have appreciated the respect.
Thank you for reading and sending the story. He is one of my favorites and I’m glad he came across to you the same way I saw in through research as a very nice and humble man. I love hearing stories like this about our golden age of celebrities whether they are in front of or behind the camera.
His son, Micheal Jay Frome, passed away October 25, 2020 in Ocean Springs, MS at the age of sixty nine. Such a talented man and often told stories of his father and his career.
Thank you for providing this update and thank you for reading.
Just saw this thread. To add to the personal details, my mom played bridge with Marjorie Frome (evidently his second wife). Mom lived in Mansfield, Ohio, and Marjorie was in nearby Galion. She was a teacher in California, I think, which is where they probably met.
Mom always said her friend Marjorie married a “standup comic,” confusing this with a comedic character actor!
Oh that is fun. He sounds like a very nice and humble guy.
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