Larry Storch, the veteran actor who portrayed the hapless Corporal Randolph Agarn on the classic (!) TV series F Troop, turns 91 today. Born on January 8th, 1923 in New York, Storch dropped out of school during the Depression to work the comedy clubs to earn money. While he did attend High School, at DeWitt Clinton, he was a schoolmate of Don Adams, of Get Smart fame. (And a World War II Marine wounded on Guadalcanal.)
Like so many actors on the set of F Troop, Storch was a Veteran (along with Forrest Tucker, Joe Brooks, Henry Gibson, Ken Berry, and James Gregory), serving in the US Navy during World War II aboard USS Proteus. One of his shipmates was none other than Tony Curtis.
F Troop only ran for two seasons, 1965-1967, but the cornball schtick and physical comedy made it a favorite. I saw it in syndication beginning in the late 60s, and it always made me laugh. My Dad thought it was “idiotic”, and perhaps it was. But Fort Courage had everything (except sunshine, it seemed, on the sound stage), including a cannon with a wheel that fell off (and invariably shot down the guard tower), a blind lookout (Trooper Vanderbilt, Joe Brooks), a bugler who couldn’t play a note (Dobbs, James Hampton), a well-meaning but inept Captain (Berry), a smoking-hot frontier babe (Wrangler Jane, Melody Patterson), a grizzled Veteran (Duffy, played by old western star Bob Steele), and a scheming Sergeant making cash on the side (Sergeant O’Rourke, Forrest Tucker). (It also had an opening theme that could stick in your head for WEEKS….) The “opponents”, the not-so dangerous Heckawi Indians, were in on the black market business, with comedic caricatures of their own.
Recurring regulars and guest stars included Henry Gibson, Harvey Korman, Edward Everett Horton, Paul Lynde, Lee Meriwether, and a host of others. Some of the classic episodes include the antics of visitors to Fort Courage. (Harvey Korman as Count Ferdinand von Zeppel.) But my favorites were the boys of F Troop. Especially Agarn. He had the absolute coolest hat, and could make the best faces.
Larry Storch was in a number of television comedies and variety shows over his career, and was a talented impersonator. He has film and stage credits that include The Great Race (with shipmate Tony Curtis), and was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson and a semi-regular on Hollywood Squares.
Happy Birthday, Corporal Randolph Agarn of Pissaic, New Jersey. I don’t know why everybody says you’re dumb!