Actor Forrest Compton, known for his roles on series like The Edge of Night and Gomer Pyle: USMC, has passed away. According to the Shelter Island Reporter, the local newspaper where he lived in New York, the 94-year-old died on Saturday, April 4, from complications due to COVID-19.
Born in1925 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Compton fought in the 103rd Infantry Division during World War II before attending Swarthmore College, where he initially studied pre-law and political science but later switched to English. His love for drama prompted him to begin acting in school theater productions and later attend Yale School of Drama, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts.
Compton's acting career took off in the 50s and 60s, when he landed roles in series like Death Valley Days, Flight, The Twilight Zone, Gomer Pyle: USMC, The F.B.I, and Hogan's Heroes. However, his most memorable role was that of central The Edge of Night character D.A. Mike Karr, which he landed in 1971 and played until the series went off the air in December of 1984.
In addition to The Edge of Night, Compton's other soap opera credits include playing Alfred Cory on Another World, Dr. Godsham on Loving, Charles DeWitt on As the World Turns, Bill Whatley on One Life to Live, and John on All My Children.
In a profile for the Shelter Island Reporter, Compton admitted that his acting career didn't get off to a great start. He recalls his first television commercial for Tavern Blue Cheese Crackers.
"Me and a very pretty girl sitting next to me eating these crackers. The pitch man was a guy in a tuxedo. I poured the crackers into a nice bowl and only one or two crackers came out. The next take, everything came out at once!" he shared. "By the third or fourth take, the pitch man was having a little trouble with the words. From the back of the studio a woman working for the sponsor said, 'Why don't we get somebody else?' So, of course he completely fell apart. By the time the girl and I were released they were on their 23rd take."
Compton shared his life with Jeanne Sementini, whom he met at a party around the same time he landed his The Edge of Night role. "She was just different enough from me that it was going to be an adventure," Compton said. "I think she felt the same way." They married in 1975.
Compton's final acting role was playing Mr. Emerson on Ed back in 2002. In addition to acting, he was an active participant in the Shelter Island Friends of Music, for which he became president in 2012.
"'Woody,' as [Forrest] was affectionately known to all of us on The Edge of Night, was a master professional, hilarious, smart, kind, and gentle," shares Sharon Gabet (ex-Raven Whitney, The Edge of Night; ex-Brittany Love, Another World; ex-Melinda Cramer, OLTL) on Facebook. "I spoke with him a couple years ago on his birthday and he was active and happy in his retirement... Rest in peace, Woody, and give hugs and kisses to Larkin [Malloy, ex-Schuyler Whitney], Lois [Kibbee, ex-Geraldine Saxon], Dennis [Parker, ex-Derek Mallory], Nick [Nicholson, former executive producer], Joel [Crothers, ex-Miles Cavanaugh], Irving [Allen Lee, ex-Calvin Stoner], and all the other Edge alumni up there."
Says Frances Fisher (ex-Deborah Saxon; ex-Gladys Pierce, Days of our Lives), "He was a sweetheart. Woody was the center of the show. He could transform pages of dialogue into true storytelling. RIP #ForrestCompton"
Forrest Compton, Mike Karr from #TheEdgeofNight" for 13 Years, Dies at 94 from #Coronavirus, Veteran TV Actor https://t.co/rcUCgv5VZo- Frances Fisher (@Frances_Fisher) April 6, 2020
He was a sweetheart.
Woody was the center of the show. He could transform pages of dialogue into true storytelling
RIP #ForrestCompton 💗
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