Harry Lauter was born in White Plains, New York. He came to be a familiar presence in low-budget films, serials (where he was often cast because of his facial resemblance to stuntman Tom Steele, who would double for him), and television programs in the 1950s, though he only once really came close to stardom, as Clay Morgan, one of the leads in the CBS television series, Tales of the Texas Rangers, which aired fifty-two episodes from 1955 to 1958. His co-star was Willard Parker as Ranger Jace Pearson. Lauter made appearances on many television programs, particularly westerns: The Gene Autry Show (sixteen episodes), Annie Oakley (twelve episodes), The Lone Ranger and The Range Rider (eleven episodes each), Gunsmoke and Rawhide (ten episodes each), Death Valley Days and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (seven episodes each), Laramie and Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater (six episodes each), The Virginian and State Trooper (five times each), and Cheyenne, Bonanza, and Maverick (three episodes each). Lauter appeared twice as Johnny Tyler in 1959-1960 in two episodes of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston.
Lauter was cast twice on the NBC children’s western series Fury, with Peter Graves and Bobby Diamond, and on Tombstone Territory, starring Pat Conway. Lauter also appeared on NBC’s Jefferson Drum, National Velvet, and Riverboat, on CBS’s Have Gun – Will Travel, with Richard Boone, and the syndicated western-themed crime drama, U.S. Marshal. In 1963, he made a guest appearance on CBS’s Perry Mason in “The Case of the Potted Planter.” He appeared in the 1958 episode “Rodeo”, with Lee Van Cleef, Barbara Baxley, and Dan Blocker, of the CBS crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, starring David Janssen. He guest starred in the 1962-1963 ABC drama series, Going My Way, with Gene Kelly. His last screen appearance was in 1979 as Marshal Charlie Benton in James Arness’s ABC series, How the West Was Won. Most of his career was spent as a serviceable second lead or heavy, though he continued to play bit parts in larger pictures, including an uncredited part as a plain-clothes policeman in the 1949 crime drama, White Heat which starred James Cagney and Edmond O’Brien. He also had an uncredited, non-speaking role in the 1963 Stanley Kramer comedy It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World as a police dispatcher. The son of an artist, he devoted much of his energy late in his life to his own painting and the operation of an art gallery. Lauter died in 1990 in Ojai in Ventura County, California. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.
- June, 19, 1914
- White Plains, New York
- October, 30, 1990
- Ojai, California