Western actor and comedian Tommy Farrell died May 9 of natural causes at the Motion Picture and Television Fund hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 82.
Farrell grew up on the Warner Bros. lot where his mother, stage, film and radio star Glenda Farrell was under contract. Although influenced by the happy go-lucky Farrell clan, who were all in the entertainment industry, he was especially close to his grandfather, and Oklahoma horse trader who taught Farrell how to ride and rope when he was eight.
He majored in theater arts at the University of Arizona in Tuscon , while spending spring and fall breaks working as a cowboy on the Bar AA ranch. On his summer breaks, he worked as an advance man for his mother in summer stock. His first break came when he was cast in the first of three Broadway shows, “Strip For Action,” with Keenan Wynn.
Farrell was the comic in three different comedy teams headlining for 13 years at hotels, nightclubs and in vaudeville. They were featured on 85 variety shows including Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason and in comedy specials including Lucille Ball, George Burns, Red Skelton, Steve Allen and many others. While partnering with Peter Marshall, they starred in 65 of their own ABC-TV shows in New York.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, Tommy appeared in 235 TV shows, including 18 Westerns, including “Hawaiian Eye,” “Maverick,” “Cheyenne,” “Rawhide” and “Gunsmoke.”
Farrell appeared in films including “Gunfighters of the Northwest,” Elvis Presley’s “Kissin’ Cousins” and “A Guide for the Married Man,” with Walter Matthau.
He also played Cpl. Thad Carson on TV’s “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.” He received a Golden Boot Award last year for his work in the genre.
Tommy Farrell is survived by his wife of 43 years, Bobbi; a son and three daughters and three grandchildren.