Bruce Gordon

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Bruce Gordon

Born

Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Died

1/20/2011

Birth Name

Gender

Male
9.4
out of 10
User Rating
4 votes

Biography

EDIT

Burly, cleft-chinned actor who made his film debut along with Marilyn Monroe in 1949's Love Happy. Appeared in numerous TV productions during the 1950's playing mostly heavies although he did get a chance to play a heroic lead in the 1958 NBC series Behind Closed Doors. After that…more

Credits

Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Gordon's catchphrase on The Untouchables was, "You're dead."

    • Gordon worked with Oscar winner Lee Marvin twice: once on an episode of M Squad entitled The Golden Look and again on an episode of The Untouchables entitled The Nick Acropolis Story.

    • Once played a real life Paiute Native American chief named Winnemucca on an episode of Bonanza entitled Mr. Henry Comstock. Untouchables co-star Abel Fernandez also appeared in this episode.

    • Appeared with Untouchables co-star Paul Picerni on an episode of Here's Lucy entitled Lucy's Wedding Party.

    • Last appearance on-screen was a bit part in the 1987 clunker, Ishtar, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty.

    • Gordon used an Italian accent when playing Frank Nitti in the pilot episode for The Untouchables which originally aired on Desilu Playhouse. Once the series got picked up this accent was dropped.

    • Gordon appeared with future Dr. No, Joseph Wiseman, three times. Twice on Broadway in The Lark and Antony and Cleopatra and once on an episode of The Untouchables entitled The Antidote.

    • In the 1947-48 revival of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Gordon appeared in the cast with such future luminaries as Charlton Heston, Tony Randall, Maureen Stapleton, Eli Wallach, and Joseph Wiseman.

    • Appeared on the ABC primetime soap opera Peyton Place for one season. Future Oscar winner Lee Grant played his wife on that show.

    • In his autobiography, Straight Shooter, Robert Stack claimed that he and Bruce Gordon once stopped traffic on the Champs Elysses in Paris when they were spotted by motorists standing together on the sidewalk outside a cafe.

    • Considering the fact that he played so many heavies it's ironic that in Gordon's first big stage role, Arsenic and Old Lace, he played a cop.

    • Though he played many nasty characters throughout the course of his long career, Gordon managed to endow most of them with a morbid, graveyard sense of humor.

    • Despite appearing in 27 episodes of The Untouchables, Gordon was only billed as a Special Guest Star once: in the Season One finale entitled The Frank Nitti Story.

    • He played a vampire hunter of sorts named Buffer in the 1958 B-movie horror classic Curse of the Undead in which he co-starred with future Rawhide star Eric Fleming.

    • Unlike the stereotypical image of gangsters smoking big cigars, Gordon only smoked cigarettes on-screen during his run on The Untouchables. The real life Frank Nitti also eschewed cigars and only smoked cigarettes.

    • Gordon's character of Frank Nitti was dropped again at the end of Season Three of The Untouchables in order to appease Italian-American groups protesting the use of Italian villains on the show. But just as happened in Season Two, Gordon/Nitti returned again for three mid-season appearances. He was brought back in order to jump start the show's declining ratings.

    • Though his character of Frank Nitti was killed off in the Season One finale of The Untouchables, Gordon returned to the series in each of its final three seasons. The show could do this because its episodes weren't filmed in any kind of chronological order.

    • In an interview on Entertainment Tonight in 1987, Gordon claimed he enjoyed the movie version of The Untouchables.

    • Though typecast as a heavy, Gordon once played a District Attorney in an episode of The Defenders and a courageous military defense attorney on an episode of One Step Beyond.

    • Gordon and Robert Stack parodied their Untouchables roles of Frank Nitti and Eliot Ness in an episode of The Lucy Show entitled Lucy, the Gun Moll.

    • Had a cameo in an episode of Simon and Simon playing a man who claimed to be John Dillinger.

    • Gordon and future Perry Mason star Raymond Burr played brothers in the 1949 film Love Happy.

    • He appeared in three episodes of Perry Mason. Twice played the murder victim.

    • Was unable to attend the funeral of Untouchables co-star Robert Stack in May of 2003 due to health reasons.

    • Appeared in a soft drink commercial for Canada Dry in the 1970's as his Untouchables personna of Frank Nitti.

    • Worked three times with legendary horror star Boris Karloff. Twice on Broadway in the original casts of Arsenic and Old Lace and The Lark and once again in an episode of The Girl from UNCLE entitled The Mother Muffin Affair.

    • Appeared in the short -lived comedy series, Run Buddy Run, with Untouchables co-star Nicholas Georgiade.

    • Played gangland chieftan Frank "the Enforcer" Nitti on 27 episodes of The Untouchables.

    • Bruce Gordon made his film debut in the 1949 movie Love Happy. Love Happy is also famous as the film debut of Marilyn Monroe and as the final film in which the Marx Brothers appeared together as a team.

  • Quotes

    • George Eckstein (about Gordon as Frank Nitti on The Untouchables): Bruce was wonderful. Bruce was great to write for because he brought so much energy, and vitality, and excitement to the screen. He was a little over the top sometimes but always entertainingly so.

SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A fine actor who always had me paying attention.

    9.2
    A long time player in the acting game, Bruce absolutely shined in "The Untouchables" with his stint as the "enforcer" Frank Nitti. Even as that series wound down a bit after the backlash against the violence and its portrayal of Italian-Americans, the more infrequent appearances of Gordon stood out. With the look and delivery, Nitti was both menacing and sometimes hilariously sarcastic in his range and timing, making him one of my favorite TV characters of all time. From "The Empty Chair" to "Globe of Death", I'll sit up in my seat whenever Nitti is "plenty sore". I don't think there is a villain I love as much in his unsubtlety, in many ways, an exact opposite of other classic characters like Wo Fat. I wish Bruce Gorden well and am glad he has had a long life.moreless
  • The greatest TV villain of them all.

    10
    Bruce Gordon enjoyed a long show business career on stage, television, and movies. He was a member of the original Broadway cast of the classic comedy mystery, Arsenic and Old Lace. Unlike many subsequent roles where he would portray heavies, Gordon played a cop in that production. He made his movie debut in 1949\'s Love Happy which is also famous for the film debut of another well-known personna, Marilyn Monroe.



    Gordon appeared in many early TV productions and starred in the short-lived drama, Behind Closed Doors. Though this series didn\'t last long its cancellation allowed Gordon to be cast in his most famous role which led to television immortality--Frank \"the Enforcer\" Nitti on The Untouchables. Gordon appeared in 27 out of the 118 episodes that were filmed and his episodes are considered by most Untouchables fans to be among the better ones of the series.



    Gordon made the character of Frank Nitti his own and at times assumed a larger than life quality in the role. He was Frank Nitti and you never forgot it once you saw him on TV. Even such forces as death and political correctness could not stop Nitti. The character died in a blazing gun battle in the final episode of Season One only to rise from the dead to torment Eliot Ness and his Untouchables again in Season Two. At the end of Season Three Nitti was dropped as a recurring character because he had an Italian surname and the show had decided to get rid of all Italian villains in order to appease protesters who claimed Italians were defamed on the show. Could this stop Nitti? Hell no it couldn\'t. The character was brought back once again for three mid-season appearances in Season Four and those episodes were among the season\'s best.



    After the Untouchables went off the air, Bruce Gordon continued his career working regulary and making numerous appearances on stage, television, and the movies. In one hilarious episode of The Lucy Show, Gordon and Untouchables co-star Robert Stack parodied their Untouchables roles of Nitti and Eliot Ness. Gordon wound down his career in the late 80\'s and now lives quietly in Santa Fe, NM with his wife, Marla. He is 89 years young now and is still considered the greatest TV villain of them all by yours truly and other devoted Untouchables fans.moreless