Don Porter (Donald Porter)

Don Porter

Donald Porter (September 24, 1912 – February 11, 1997) was an American actor who appeared in a number of films in the 1940s, including Top Sergeant and Eagle Squadron, but is perhaps best known for his role as Russell Lawrence, the widowed father of 15-year-old Frances “Gidget” Lawrence (Sally Field) in the 1965 ABC situation comedy Gidget. Born in Miami, Oklahoma, Porter began his acting career in the late 1930s. He appeared in various films in the 1940s before landing the role of Peter Sands, the boss of Susan Camille MacNamara (Ann Sothern) on the 1950s situation comedy Private Secretary. A retooled version of the series appeared later, titled The Ann Sothern Show. It featured many of the same actors, including Porter, in the venue of a fashionable New York City hotel. He later guest starred on episodes of Green Acres, Love, American Style, The Mod Squad, Barnaby Jones, The Six Million Dollar Man, Hawaii Five-O, Three’s Company (on which he played Jack Tripper’s uncle), and Switch. Porter also had a lucrative stage career that included the long-running hit Any Wednesday (1964) opposite Sandy Dennis and Gene Hackman. Porter also appeared in numerous films including The Turning Point (1952), Our Miss Brooks (1956), Gidget Goes to Rome (playing Russell Lawrence two years prior to repeating the role in the series), The Candidate (1972), and as Mr. Upson in the 1974 film adaptation of Mame with Lucille Ball and Bea Arthur. Porter made his last onscreen appearance in a 1988 episode of CBS Summer Playhouse. Porter was married to actress Peggy Converse with whom he had two children. He died at the age of eighty-four at his home in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, 1997.


  • September, 24, 1912
  • USA
  • Miami, Oklahoma


  • February, 11, 1997
  • USA
  • Beverly Hills, California


  • Cremated

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