Frank Sutton didn't like talking about politics during his time on Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C.
Image credit: The Everett Collection
During the 1960s and 1970s, many U.S. presidents and politicians made appearances on sitcoms, variety shows, talk shows, and even a few films.
From Richard Nixon's famous appearance on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In in 1968 to Jimmy Carter on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1979 and Gerald Ford on Saturday Night Live in 1976; The presence of politicians was a common theme in those decades.
Even Frank Sutton, who played the role of Sgt. Vince Carter on Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. (1964), was at the center of the political whirlwind that took over television. Because of his military experience both on and offscreen, Sutton became a prime candidate for interview questions regarding his political stances.
Interview questions about personal beliefs and political views weren't uncommon for many actors, however for Sutton, the question came up more often — and he wasn't too happy about it.
In a 1968 interview with the Democrat and Chronicle, Sutton was asked if he thought Ronald Reagan would ever become president. According to the interview, Sutton did not want to talk about politics.
"Wait a minute," Sutton started. "This interview is taking a bad slant. I'm no more an authority on these things than the elevator man. I'm an actor."
Most actors are like most people: We all have an opinion and we believe what we choose to believe. Sutton was no different. However, he didn't want to share those opinions with the public.
Despite being a Marine Sergeant on the series, Sutton was an Army Sergeant during WWII where he took part in 14 assault landings in the South Pacific. Many people expected Sutton to be similar to his character, but the truth was that Sutton was nothing like his character on Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C.
"And you know," Sutton started. "During my three years in the Army, I saw any number of guys who weren't any closer to reality than Gomer Pyle."
Following his service in the Army, Sutton studied drama at Columbia University while appearing in a number of TV series. After he landed Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C., he appeared mostly in Anthology shows.
"I've done more than 1,000 TV shows," Sutton said. "And you know, if you hit, if you really hit, on just one out of every three or four shows, you're doing a helluva lot."
Sutton did a lot for Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C. and the series became a major success for the two stars. Sutton enjoyed stardom and loved his fans — when they weren't asking him about politics, of course.