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Actor James Noble, 94, Of Norwalk

James Noble
James Noble Photo Credit: Deborah Burnley

NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk resident James Noble, who portrayed the governor in TV series "Benson" died March 28, after suffering a stroke earlier in the week.

The actor, whose career spanned almost 70 years, appeared on Broadway, in films, soap operas and throughout the United State in regional theaters, as well as performing in London and Canada.

Born March 5, 1922, in Dallas, Noble attended Southern Methodist University to study drama and engineering, but left to join the U.S. Navy in World War II. He served as a lieutenant JG on the USS Taussig, a destroyer in the Pacific. Although he was partially deaf, after childhood mastoid surgery, he was a sonar officer.

Noble moved to New York, where he studied acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Soon he became a member of the American Mime Theater, where he also taught.

He met his wife, the actress Carolyn Coates, while co-starring in a production of "Pygmalion." Throughout the 1950s and '60s, they would appear in a number of productions together, including "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "A Long Day's Journey into Night" and "A Delicate Balance."

Making his Broadway debut in "The Velvet Glove" in 1950, he went on to perform in "A Far Country," "Strange Interlude," "The Runner Stumbles," and, most notably, "1776," also appearing in the movie version. During this period he also played Dr. Winters in the soap opera "The Doctors," as well as having recurring roles in "One Life to Live" and "Another World."

It was his role as the absent-minded governor to Robert Guillaume's knowing "director of household affairs" in the long-running series "Benson" that brought him the most recognition. The series' popularity continued throughout the 1980s.

After his years in Hollywood, Noble returned to his theatrical roots, making his home in Fairfield, and later Norwalk. An active member of the Theatre Artists Workshop since the 1988, Noble never lost his vitality and enthusiasm for his craft.

He was predeceased by his wife Carolyn.

He is survived by his daughter Jessie.

A memorial Mass will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Matthew Church 216 Scribner Norwalk. Full military honors will follow.

Memorial donations may be made to Theatre Artists Workshop, 5 Gregory St., East Norwalk, CT 06855.

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