Steve Forrest SWAT Actor Dead at 87

It was announced today by the Hollywood Reporter that Steve Forrest the actor who starred in the 1970’s ABC series S.W.A.T. is dead. He died on the 18th of May at the age of 87. He left this world peacefully surrounded by his family.

Forrest was a well known face in Hollywood and on both the big and little screens of the world. He had a career that lasted well over 60 years. He was generally cast as the handsome leading man or as a heavy or bad guy,

Forrest was an actor that loved westerns. He loved roles that allowed him to feed his passion and he was considered an aficionado of the genre. He worked in many western films and showed up in a guest star capacity on some of the most iconic television westerns of the time.

He worked on The Virginian, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, High Chaparral, and Rawhide; to name but a few of the westerns that graced television screens of the 1960’s.

But where Forrest made his name was on the Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg-produced S.W.A.T. on ABC. He played the tough as nails, hard hitting leader of the Police special five man team that had a soft warm hearted center. A signature theme of the show was his character Harrelson jumping into the big grey van, clutching a bullhorn and shouting the modern equivalent of ‘saddle-up’ which was “Let’s Roll!”

Forrest was on the show for its entire run from February 1975 to April 1976 for 37 episodes. When the film version of the program was made starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell in 2003, Steve appeared in a cameo role as the van driver.

Forrest was born William Forrest Andrews on Sept. 25, 1925, in Huntsville, Texas, to Annis and Charles Andrews, a Baptist minister. He was the youngest of 13 children.

At 18, Forrest enlisted in the military and served with the Army. He rose to the rank of sergeant during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles and attended UCLA. Forrest graduated with honors from UCLA in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and went to work as a stagehand at the La Jolla Playhouse outside San Diego.

It was while he was working at the Playhouse during the summer stock production of Goodbye Again, that he was discovered by Hollywood legend Gregory Peck. The actor cast him in the production and arranged for his first screen test with MGM, where he was placed under contract.

In 1953, Forrest garnered a New Star of the Year award from the Golden Globes for his performance in the Warner Bros. film So Big, playing opposite Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden. Throughout the ’50s, Forrest was constantly working on both films and television and he worked on some of the most iconic television programs available at that time. Shows like Playhouse 90, Climax! Theater, Lux Video Theater and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

His early films roles had him working with and along side some of the most talented stars of the era. He had roles as a P.O.W. opposite Ronald Reagan in MGM’s Prisoner of War (1954), as Robert Taylor’s younger brother in Rogue Cop (1954), as Doris Day’s would-be suitor in It Happened to Jane (1959), as Elvis Presley’s half brother in the Western Flaming Star (1960), as Sophia Loren’s gun-slinging love interest in Heller in Pink Tights (1960) and with John Wayne and an all-star cast in The Longest Day (1962).

After the 1960’s Forrest continued to be steadily employed in film and television. The actor was a popular choice. His later film and television appearances included North Dallas Forty (1979), Mommie Dearest (1981) with Faye Dunaway, Spies Like Us (1985) with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, the miniseries Hollywood Wives (1985), a season in the 1980s on TV’s Dallas, Storyville (1992) with James Spader and Killer: A Journal of Murder (1995) with James Woods.

In 1965, under contract to the BBC, Forrest relocated to London with his family to star as John Mannering, the international antique dealer-cum-secret agent in the British crime drama The Baron. The program was the first color series on British television.

An avid and accomplished golfer, Forrest frequently played in charity tournaments around the world. In 1976, he competed on the American team at the Bing Crosby Great Britain vs. U.S.A. Tournament at the Glen Eagles course in Scotland.

Steve Forrest is survived by his wife of 65 years, Christine and his sons Michael, Forrest and Stephen and grandchildren Samantha, Emily, Aubrey and Alex. A service will be held at 10 a.m. May 30 at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Griffin Memorial Park in Westlake Village, Calif.

A true measure of the man can be seen by the fact that he married Christine Carilas on December 23rd, 1948 and he only left her in death.

By Michael Smith


4 Responses to "Steve Forrest SWAT Actor Dead at 87"

  1. Michael David Williams   October 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

    As boy growing up in Bangor, ME and watching S.W.A.T. I knew I wanted to be a very special law enforcement officer. Being 15yrs old you have a lot thoughts going through your mind about being that special person. Conditions developed that I could not see all the episodes of that series and I was desperate to watch the next episode. Doing law enforcement in the United States Army enhanced my desires of S.W.A.T. and being a law enforcement officer in Alaska amplified that desire. Evidently I never got to that position and I have to say that this was one of my top cop shows in 1975-1976. Fine job Steve: (a.k.a Lt. Dan Harrelson) and thank you for your service to our country in WWII.

    • Michael Smith   October 23, 2014 at 11:49 am

      What a lovely comment Michael David Williams, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Cheers!

  2. Jeff Rowden   March 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Just watched the episode of Rawhide with him, look forward to meeting him in person in heaven, thoughts and prayers go out to his family! Hope to be married to my wife that long!

  3. Joe Leong   January 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    My mother and I are fans of Steve Forrest. He was a talented actor and one of my favorites.


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