Simon Oakland


1915-1983. Brooklyn, New York City

A former violinist, character actor Simon Oakland made his Broadway debut in 1948's The Skipper Next to God. Oakland's later stage credits include Light Up the Sky, The Shrike and Inherit the Wind. In films from 1957, Oakland was often cast as an outwardly unpleasant sort with inner reserves of decency and compassion. In I Want to Live (1958) for example, he played a journalist who first shamelessly exploited the murder trial of death-row inmate Susan Hayward, then worked night and day to win her a reprieve. And in Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), he had a memorable curtain speech as a jumpy, jittery, apparently neurotic psychiatrist who turned out to be the only person who fully understood transvestite murderer Anthony Perkins. Conversely, Oakland played his share of out-and-out villains, notably the bigoted Officer Schrank in West Side Story (1961). Far busier on television than in films--he once estimated that he'd appeared in 550 TV productions--Oakland was seen almost exclusively on the small screen after 1973. Within a five-year period, he was a regular on four series: Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Toma, Black Sheep Squadron and David Cassidy, Man Undercover. After a long losing bout with cancer, Simon Oakland died one day after his 63rd birthday.