LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – Larry Storch, the cartoon with a rubber face whose long career in theater, movies and television ended with his “F Troop” role as a prolific Cpl. Agarn in the 1960s fraud of TV shows on the western border, died Friday. Storch was 99.
Storch died of natural causes in his New York apartment early Friday, according to his manager, Matt Beckoff.
Although “F Troop” lasted only two seasons on ABC, from 1965 to 1967, it became a cult favorite in reruns. His devoted followers were able to recount almost all of the adventures of the incredibly incompetent soldiers of Fort Courage and the members of the nearby Native American tribe who only pretended to be at war with them.
As Agarn, Storch was the wild-eyed partner and protector of Forrest Tucker’s cunning sergeants. O’Rourke, who along with Frank DeKova’s chief Wild Eagle regularly planned to flee unsuspecting visitors. Ken Berry’s Capt. Parmenter was Fort Courage’s enigmatic commander.
While “F Troop” earned him lasting fame, Storch appeared in numerous movies and TV shows before and after the show. He has also enjoyed a long career in theater and as a cartoon at resorts in the state of New York’s Catskill Mountains area.
He never regretted being the best known for the series, his manager said.
“He embraced it. “He loved being Agarn” and enjoyed working with his co-stars, Beckoff said. Storch was the “friendliest, sweetest person”, who always had time for signature seekers and was generous to people in need, he said.
Storch’s credits included “Funny Valentine”, “Sweet 16”, “Sex and the Single Girl”, “SOB”, “Airport”, “Treasure Island” and “Oliver Twist”. On TV, he guest starred in shows such as “Married … With Children,” “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “Trapper John, MD,” “Fantasy Island,” CHiPS, “” The Love Boat, “” Get Smart, ” “Love American Style”, “Gilligan’s Island” and “Car 54 Where Are You?”
His many theatrical appearances ranged from a brutal detective in a 1983 Broadway revival of “Porgy and Bess” to Chief Sitting Bull in the 2000 revival of “Annie Get Your Gun” with Reba McEntire.
Storch said in a 1998 interview that he was surprised to be considered for an army comedy like “F Troop”, as it was well known that he had served in the Navy during World War II. “All I knew about horses was that they give milk and can bite from both sides,” he believed.
It was indeed his naval service that gave his career a big boost. During the war, he met a radio operator in the Marshall Islands named Bernie Schwartz who told him, “I’m going to be a movie star.” Storch, already a seasoned comic on the circuit, tried to talk him out of it and warned him that business could be difficult.
They met again after the war, and Schwartz, who now changed his name to Tony Curtis, remembered the funny guy from the islands. Storch went on to appear in eight of Curtis’ movies, including “Captain Newman,” “Who Was That Lady?” and “The Great Race.”
Laurence Samuel Storch was born in New York City, where, as he proudly remembered, he became a class jester at DeWitt Clinton High School and was “invited not to come back.”
He rehearsed his comedy in Harlem theaters for $ 2 a night before graduating from the famous rehearsal space for comedians of his era, the Catskills.
His first major breakthrough came on TV in the early 1950s with “The Cavalcade of Stars,” starring Jackie Gleason. This led to “The Larry Storch Show,” a 1953 summer series. Regular movie and TV work followed.
Storch was married to Norma Greve from 1961 until her death in 2003.
The late Associated Press author Bob Thomas contributed to this report.