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1960s / Vanishing TV Character - Mr Barnsdahl
Fans of The Lucy Show immediately think of Mr. Mooney (played by Gale Gordon) as the tight-fisted banker with whom Lucy Carmichael constantly clashed. However, Mr. Mooney was a replacement for Mr. Barnsdahl, played by Charles Lane. Lane was a longtime character actor who specialized in playing officious, unlikable authority figures. A familiar face for generations of TV and movie fans, Lane's acting career began in 1929. Four years later he was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He was a favorite of director Frank Capra and became a good friend of Lucille Ball. He had roles in several episodes of I Love Lucy. (He was a fellow expectant father in the 1953 episode when Little Ricky is born.) When Lucy's second sitcom series, The Lucy Show, began in the fall of 1962, she played a widow who lived off a trust fund left to her by her late husband. Lane played Mr. Barnsdahl, the humorless, no-nonsense banker who managed the fund. Lane appeared in just four episodes, however. According to one book about Lucille Ball's sitcoms, Lane had difficulty remembering his lines when performing in front of a live audience and happily stepped aside for Gordon. (Shortly thereafter Lane was cast as heartless railroad official Homer Bedloe on Petticoat Junction--which was not shot in front of a live audience.) Another explanation for Lane's departure is that he was only an interim character until Gale Gordon--Lucy's first choice to play her banker--was freed from other contractual obligations and could become the miserly Mr. Mooney whom every Lucy fan remembers. Lane lived to be a centenarian, dying at age 102 in 2007. His last acting credit was as a narrator at age 101. He was the oldest SAG member at the time of his death.