Allen Case was a talented actor and singer who rose to fame as the lead role of Deputy Clay McCord in the NBC-TV series The Deputy, opposite Henry Fonda. He also appeared in many other TV shows, films and musicals throughout his career. He died of a heart attack on August 25, 1986, at the age of 51, while on vacation in Truckee, California. His death was a sad loss for the entertainment industry and his fans.
A Passion for Performing
Case was born in Dallas, Texas, on October 8, 1934, as Allen Case Lavelle Jones. He attended Southern Methodist University for two years, but left to pursue his passion for performing. He started his career as a singer on a local TV variety program, and then moved to New York to audition for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. He impressed Godfrey and became one of his “friends” on his morning show. He also signed a contract with Columbia Records and performed on the first studio cast recording of the Gershwins’ musical Oh, Kay
Case also ventured into theatre, appearing in repertory, West End and Broadway productions. He starred in his first Broadway show, Reuben, Reuben, and also toured with musicals such as South Pacific, Damn Yankees, and My Fair Lady. He also played musical instruments, studied singing and composed his own songs.
The Iconic Deputy Clay McCord
Case’s breakthrough role was that of Deputy Clay McCord, the protagonist of The Deputy, which ran from 1959 to 1961. The show was created by Norman Lear and Roland Kibbee, and starred Henry Fonda as Marshal Simon Fry, the mentor of McCord. Fonda, however, appeared only sporadically, leaving Case to carry most of the episodes.
The Deputy was one of the most popular and successful westerns of its time, and made Case a household name. He also recorded an album called Allen Case – The “Deputy” Sings, featuring songs such as “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “I’ll Be Seeing You”.
Other Notable Works
After The Deputy, Case continued to work in television, film and theatre. He made guest appearances on several TV shows, such as Perry Mason, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, The Time Tunnel and Quincy, M.E. He also co-starred as Frank James in the ABC western series The Legend of Jesse James, which aired from 1965 to 1966.
Case also appeared in several films, such as Salt and Pepper, The Twelve Chairs, The Canterbury Tales and The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. He also lent his voice to the character of Reverend Clement Hedges in the Wallace & Gromit film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
In 1967, Case made a return to Broadway musicals as the third lead in Jule Styne and Arthur Laurents’ Hallelujah, Baby!, and his singing is featured prominently on the original cast album. He also wrote a memoir, titled Do You Think That’s Wise?: The Life of John Le Mesurier, which was published in 2010. He paid tribute to his friend and fellow actor, who played Sergeant Wilson in Dad’s Army, another sitcom created by David Croft.
A Sad Loss for the Entertainment Industry
Case’s death was mourned by many of his colleagues and admirers, who expressed their condolences and appreciation for his work. His daughter said he was “a wonderful father, a loving husband and a great actor”.
Case’s death also marked the end of an era for British comedy, as he was the last of the original cast of Are You Being Served? to pass away. The show was one of the most successful and influential sitcoms of its time, and has been repeated and remade in many countries. It is still fondly remembered by generations of fans, who enjoyed its witty dialogue, colourful characters and hilarious situations.
Allen Case was a talented and versatile performer, who brought joy and laughter to millions of people with his role as Mr Rumbold. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on through his work. Rest in peace, Allen Case. You have been served well.