Updated: March 29, 2021
ROBERT DOWELL PHOTO GALLERY #01
Robert Dowdell's bio as prepared and written by the powers-that-be within 20th Century Fox.
This bio is taken from Voyage's syndication package issued in 1968 upon the original entry
of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea into the syndication market. Minor editing has been
performed in the interests of readability.
Biography: Robert Dowdell - Lt. Commander Chip Morton - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
When Irwin Allen selected Bob Dowdell to play the role of Lt. Comdr. Chip Morton in the
20th Century-Fox Television adventure-drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, he picked a
young man whose first and only aim in life was to be an actor.
"None of this fireman, policeman, cowboy and baseball business," Dowdell commented. "Since
I appeared in the senior class play at Parker High School in Chicago, I knew acting was for me."
Born in Park Ridge, Ill., just outside Chicago, Dowdell attended public school, high school and
then matriculated at Weslyan University in Connecticut on a scholarship, stayed a year and a
half, then entered the University of Chicago, also on scholarship.
He left the university to enter the army, and upon discharge, held a number of jobs, including
brakeman on a railroad, washing airplanes, driving a cleaner's delivery truck, selling books,
working on an auto assembly line while waiting for his break.
His first role was in the off-Broadway production "The Dybbuk."
"Doing the lead in (Dybbuk) taught me one monumentally important thing," Dowdell recalls. "I
didn't know how to act." The producers of the drama came to the same conclusion and after a
month, Bob was replaced.
What money he had, Dowdell spent on acting lessons from Wyn Handman, a highly regarded acting
coach. The lessons helped, and Dowdell was chosen for a small part in "Time Limit" on Broadway.
He was introduced to Leslie Stevens, who was casting his play, "The Lovers," for production by
the Playwrights Company. He landed a part along with Joanne Woodward and Hurd Hatfield and the
play was well received.
Arthur Penn, who had directed "The Lovers," gave Dowdell his first opportunity to tackle
television in a "Studio One" segment that was a turning point for the young actor.
Another chance on Broadway in "Love Me Little" opposite Susan Kohner, with Joanne Bennett and
Donald Cook, and frequent TV appearances followed, including "Kraft Theater," "Armstrong Theater,
an additional "Studio One" and others. John Frankenheimer cast him in "The Midnight Sun," a
drama headed for Broadway, and then selected him to team with Richard Burton and Maximilliam
Schell in Hemingway's "The Fifth Column," on the Buick Electra Playhouse.
That success was followed by another Broadway stint, Viva Madison Avenue," with Buddy Hackett.
Next, Dowdell was cast in the difficult and pivotal role of the German tutor in the national
road company of "Five Finger Exercise" opposite Jessica Tandy.
While playing in "Five Finger Exercise" at the Biltmore Theater in Los Angeles, Dowdell was
contacted by his friend from Broadway days, producer-director-writer Leslie Stevens, who had
just formed Daystar Productions. He asked Dowdell to sign a contract and created the character
of Cody Bristol in "Stoney Burke," a continuing role on that series that won a nationwide
following and a ton of fan mail for Dowdell.
Real Name: Robert (Bob) Dowdell
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Birth date: March 10
Weight: 168 lbs
The Dybbuk (off-Broadway)
Love Me a Little
The Midnight Sun
Viva Madson Avenue
Five Finger Exercise
Buick Electra Playhouse
Moment of Fear
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea