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Conlan Carter

The following biography appeared in the COMBOAT! '96 Souvenir booklet. Copyright Strange New Worlds, 1996. All rights reserved.


 conlan3.jpg (6864 bytes)Conlan Carter was born in Center Ridge Arkansas at the height of the Great Depression on October 3, 1934. A son of sharecroppers, he was raised on a farm near Matthews, Missouri. In 1951 and 1952, while at Matthews High School, he was Missouri State Champion in the pole vault and was elected to Missouri’s All-State Track Team.

He attended Missouri State College at Cape Girardeau for two years on an athletic scholarship. In college, he became conference champion in pole vaulting for Missouri Interstate Athletic Association and competed in high jump, low hurdles, and broad jump. Carter was invited to the 1954 Olympic trials, but could not attend because of finances.

He began his life-long love affair with flight when he joined the US Air Force in 1954. In August of 1956, after two years in the Air Force, Carter hitchhiked to San Francisco where he found work with the Southern Pacific railroad. There, Conlan joined a musical theatre group, studied voice, and won an acting scholarship to the Bay City Actors Lab. He concentrated on musical comedy and appeared in many productions. While studying, he also worked as a field auditor for an insurance company to support himself and his new wife, Patricia Musser, whom he married in 1958.

Carter moved to Hollywood in 1959. Within two months, he was signed as a regular on the television show The Law and Mr. Jones, playing young law clerk, C. E. Curruthers. Carter also made guest appearances on several hit television shows, including Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Beverly Hillbillies, and Dr. Kildare. He even guested on an episode of Combat! (as the MP in “Hill 256”) before joining the show’s regular cast in the role of Doc at the beginning of the second season. He received an Emmy nomination as best supporting actor for his outstanding work in the second-season episode “The Hostages.”

conlan1.jpg (6464 bytes)During the show’s 1964 summer hiatus, Conlan garnered his first movie role in the comedy Quick Before it Melts. He played a hillbilly radio operator in the Antarctic. Between acting gigs, he also enjoyed flying. Both he and his wife had their private pilot’s license and spent much of their off time above the clouds.

Conlan Carter’s post-Combat! career included frequent appearances on television and several feature films. During this period, he acquired his commercial pilot’s license, splitting his time between acting and the wild blue yonder. In 1976 he traveled to Kano, Nigeria in West Africa to do a geological survey for oil exploration. He worked for Beech Aerospace Service in 1985, doing secret airborne electronic surveillance. This was a particularly interesting time for him, since the hush-hush work required high-level security clearance and a national security briefing. When asked about this intriguing part of his flight career, he responds “I’d tell you about it, but then I’d have to kill you.”

His last showbiz appearance was in a MacGyver episode in 1986. Later that year, he took a job in Florida, as a private pilot flying for a client and his family. Conlan lives with his wife, Betty, in a home adjoining the airport. He now flies a Dassault Falcon Jet for the family, flying them within the continental United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe.

Conlan was divorced from Patricia in 1970 and remained a bachelor for nineteen years. In 1989, he wed his high school sweetheart, Betty Murphy. Carter has four children: Christopher Conlan, Tracy Lynn, Heather Dawn, and Jonathan Patrick.

Today, in addition to flying, Conlan has a twenty acre citrus grove as “a hedge against becoming a ward of the state in my dotage.” He’s glad that the cruise came about because “I suspect otherwise all of us would have gone to our separate graves without ever saying hello.”

Sometimes he misses acting, sometimes not. With his distinctive Arkansas voice and laid-back charm, he says, “I have no regrets. I have a good life here.”

Vital Statistics: (from his 1963 ABC-TV biography)

Born: Center Ridge, Ark. October 3, 1934
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Hair: Light brown
Eyes: Blue

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