Larry Storch, comic actor in TV sitcom ‘F Troop,’ dies at 99
Larry Storch, a comic actor best known for his role as a bumbling corporal in the 1960s sitcom “F Troop,” set at the fictional Fort Courage in the Old West, died July 8 at his home in Manhattan. He was 99.
The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said his stepdaughter, June Cross.
Mr. Storch’s career stretched back to the 1930s, when he began working as a comedian and impressionist in burlesque houses, and included stand-up comedy, hundreds of television appearances, film and theater roles, and voice-over parts in animated films.
Yet it was a goofy sitcom that gave him his widest recognition, portraying the likable yet hapless Cpl. Randolph Agarn on “F Troop,” which ran from 1965 to 1967 on ABC and featured the shenanigans of an Army unit at a frontier outpost.
“How do you get to Fort Courage?” Mr. Storch’s character asked in one episode. “That’s easy. You take a right at the rock that looks like a bear, then a left at the bear that looks like a rock.”
Mr. Storch was the sidekick of the wily Sgt. Morgan O’Rourke, played by Forrest Tucker, who was continually hatches harebrained moneymaking schemes, often in cahoots with leaders of a local Indian tribe called the Hekawi. The commanding officer of the fort is an inept dilettante played by Ken Berry.
The show’s humor was often broad, farcical and built on crude cultural stereotypes, but Mr. Storch emerged as the comic star of “F Troop.”
With his expressive face and gift for mimicry, he played Agarn as something between a rogue and buffoon, entangled in one misfiring plan after another.
He was constantly encountering cousins from all over the world — played by Mr. Storch, of course, in various accents — who somehow managed to make their way to Fort Courage from Russia, Canada or Mexico. His hat, with its upturned brim, seemed to fall in the dust in every episode, or else he used it to batter other F Troop soldiers who were even more incompetent than he.
Agarn frequently mentioned his hometown of Passaic, N.J., and in one episode, both candidates for mayor converge on Fort Courage to seek the corporal’s absentee vote to break an electoral tie. Tucker’s character tries to make money off the electioneering, as the corporal laments, “I only regret that I have but one vote to give to my city.”
In the end, his vote is thrown out because he cast his ballot in a saloon, where whiskey was served in violation of election laws.