Bob Hastings, R.I.P.


Character actor Bob Hastings, whose career dated back to before the days he played Archie Andrews on radio, passed away June 30 at his home following a long illness. He was probably best known to an entire generation for playing Lieutenant Elroy Carpenter on the TV series, McHale's Navy, but he worked constantly on a wide range of programs ranging from comedy to soap opera and crime drama. He was just one of those actors who was never off the screen for very long.

And when he was off the screen, he was usually in front of a microphone. His radio experience converted nicely to commercial and voiceover work, including many animated cartoons. He was the voice of Superboy on the Superman cartoons of the sixties, the voice of Commissioner Gordon on many recent Batman cartoons and there were dozens of others. Even in his eighties (he was 89 when he died the other day), he could still play youthful characters and could even sometimes squeeze out a line or two that sounded just like the teenage Archie.

A lot of people reading this are probably sad to hear of his passing because they had the chance to meet Bob. He was very active at conventions of fans of old radio shows, often appearing to discuss that end of his career and to participate in re-creations of programs from that era. Also, for years he was on retainer at Universal Studios to appear in connection with their famous studio tour. After you saw the backlot, you got to see a stunt show and an animal show and meet an actual TV star. For a long time, that star was Bob Hastings. He did something like ten shows a day to entertain the tourists and between shows, he'd sign hundreds of autographed photos for tourgoers.

They couldn't have picked a better man to meet and greet people. Hastings had great energy and charm and a lot of funny stories. I got to talk with him on a few occasions and gee, he was a great guy.