'Daktari' actor served SAG in multiple capacities

Yale Summers, an actor who co-starred in jungle adventure series “Daktari” before becoming heavily involved in the activities of the Screen Actors Guild by producing the guild’s awards show, among other things, died Sunday, May 6, in Beverly Hills after a long battle with COPD. He was 78.

Summers was the second male lead on CBS’ “Daktari,” which followed the activities of veterinarian Marsh Tracy, played by Marshall Thompson, in a remote area of Africa. The series ran from 1966-68.

Summers spent the 1964-65 season playing Dr. Bob Ayres on ABC daytime soap “General Hospital,” and he was Rodney Harrington No. 2 on “Return to Peyton Place” from 1972-74. The actor also guested on a variety of shows ranging from “The Donna Reed Show,” “My Favorite Martian” and “The Outer Limits” in the early 1960s to “My Three Sons,” “Fantasy Island” and “Quincy.”

Summers was a founding member and chair of the SAG Awards Committee, and in that capacity was one of the producers of the Screen Actors Guild Awards from the kudocast’s founding in 1995 until its 15th anniversary in 2009.

He served on the guild’s national board director and the national executive committee for many years and had been national recording secretary and national treasurer at different times. Summers was also a SAG Producers Pension and Health Plans trustee and a SAG Foundation board member.

Former SAG president Ed Asner said: “Yale was a good man and a good friend who was totally dedicated to his belief in the union. He was completely unbiased and never took sides. He had a purist vision of how the guild should be run and wasn’t swayed by the influence of special interest groups. He put the best interest of the guild and union first. I’m deeply sorry for his passing.”

Summers was also a member of AFTRA, for which he served on both the Los Angeles local board and national board of directors.

The actor received SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award, presented for service to the guild, in 2008.

Summers was born in Manhattan, graduated with honors with a degree in business from Cornell U. in 1955 and served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Summers is survived by his wife, Suzie Summers; two children; and two grandchildren.

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