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The Only Marvel Comics #1 Artist To Also Star in a Star Trek Episode

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

I am a big fan of catching up on classic television. I watched a lot of these shows in syndication when I was a kid, but just piecemeal. I prefer to watch them in their totality and luckily, a number of television stations are dedicated to just that. I typically watch two classic shows that air daily and one classic show that airs over the weekend. Currently, those shows are Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. One of the interesting things for me is identifying older actors that I am unfamiliar with. In a recent (for me) episode of Gunsmoke, I came across an actor with a fascinating background that I figured I should share with you all.

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Sam Gilman was born in Massachusetts in 1915. He attended the Pratt Institute and received a degree in art, with a minor in theater.

While he studied fine art in school, upon graduation, he found work in the then-burgeoning new field of comic book artwork. He drew the Dan Dennis, FBI feature for 1939's Keen Detective Funnies, for Centaur Publishing...

, which was Harry A Chesler's comic book company that he formed out of the remnants of Comic Magazines Inc. (a short-lived company that spun out of Major Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson's National Comics). Chesler was the head of one of the earliest comic book packaging studios, which would supply comic books to companies who wanted to get into the comic book publishing field. Chesler helped supply the artwork for Marvel Comics #1 when Martin Goodman wanted to get into comics. Chesler also published some comics of his own under the Centaur brand.

Gilman supplied the artwork for a text story in Marvel Comics #1...

He also illustrated a text story in Marvel Mystery Comics #8 (Marvel Comics changed its name with the second issue)...

Goodman then hired away a good deal of Chesler's artists to work for Goodman's comic book company directly. Gilman, though, was not one of the artists recruited, so he continued on at Centaur on the Dan Dennis feature through 1940...

Gilman temporarily gave up his career in art when he entered the Army during World War II. He served as an army staff sergeant in the camouflage core in Northern France during the war.

When Gilman got out of the military following the end of the war, he decided to pursue a career in acting in New York City. He was a relative veteran when he met and befriended a younger actor named Marlon Brando. Brando later told Gilman that Gilman should move out to California to work in TV and film. Gilman did so (Brando presumably got Gilman a small role in The Wild One as a deputy to help kick off his career in Hollywood) and became a long-standing character actor in film and TV (mostly TV).

He also remained good friends with Brando. Brando got him a role in Brando's 1961 Western, One-Eyed Jacks and here they are with some other friends...

(Gilman is on the left)

In 1968, he had probably his most memorable role, playing Doc Holliday in the season three episode of Star Trek, "Spectre of the Gun"...

Gilman kept working in TV and film until a couple of years before he passed away in 1985.

Talk about a unique resume! Marvel Comics #1 AND Star Trek? Wow!

If anyone has a suggestion for a future Knowledge Waits (basically, anything comic book related that you think would be interesting to see me write about), drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com

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