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Robert F. Simon as the first Mr. Frank Stephens

ROBERT F. SIMON (the first Frank Stephens)

Robert E Simon was born on December 2, 1908, in Mansfield, Ohio, where he became an all-state high school basketball star in the 1920s. According to his nephew, Dick Simon, when Bob was in his late forties he would consistently win in one-on-one games between him and his then-teenaged relative.

Before Bob began his career in acting, he aspired to be a traveling salesman. In fact, he initially ventured into theater to hone his skills as a commercial traveler. "I was shy," he said, "and I thought acting would help me overcome that. Once I stepped on stage, however, performing came easily to me, and it was then I decided to make a career of it."

Simon's first professional job was in the play No For an Answer by Marc Blitzstein, in which he had the opportunity to display his song and dance abilities as well. He was also involved with the Cleveland Playhouse, Group Theater, and Actors Studio, which led to an assignment as understudy to Lee J. Cobb for the lead in Death of a Salesman.

As he recalled of the latter, "I never expected Lee to fall ill, but at one point he did, and, much to my surprise, I found myself in the production." From Salesman he went on to several other stage performances, as well as many roles in television and film.

Beside Darrin's first father on Bewitched, his other TV appearances included regular roles on The Legend of Custer (as General Alfred Terry), Nancy (as Everett Hudson on NBC, 1970-71), and The Amazing Spiderman (as J. Jona Jameson, a role David White portrayed in the Spiderman pilot).

Simon completed more than fifty films, including Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Chief Crazy Horse (1955), The Benny Goodman Story (1955), The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955, with Elizabeth Montgomery), The Last Angry Man (1959), Operation Petticoat (1959) [both Astronaut and Petticoat also featured Dick Sargent], Captain Newman, MD. (1963), The Spiral Road (1962), and The Reluctant Astronaut (1967).

Simon died at the age of eighty-three of a massive heart attack in Tarzana, California, on November 29, 1992. He is survived by daughters Barbara Callet and Susan Thompson, and sons Robert L. and James Simon, and several grandchildren and other relatives, including his sister Reni.

*Biography from "Bewitched Forever" by Herbie J. Pilato

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