Karl Swenson (July 23, 1908 (Brooklyn, New York) – October 8, 1978 (Torrington, Connecticut)) was an American actor. He is known most noteably for his role of "Lars Hanson" on Little House on the Prairie, along with that of Dr. Karl Svenson in an episode of the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes. He has also appeared in a variety of other theater, film, radio, and television productions.
History (early-life) Edit
Karl Swenson was born on July 23, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York, to Swedish parents. Beginning in the 1930s, he started a long and extensive career as an actor. He began appearing in broadway and radio productions during this time. He appeared in such radio classics as Cavalcade of America, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, Joe Palooka, The March of Time and This is Your FBI, among others. He also had leading roles in the radio shows Lorenzo Jones, The Adventures of Father Brown, and Mr. Chameleon. During November of 1944, he starred as "David Beeves" in Arthur Miller's The Man Who Had All the Luck. In the late 1940s, he began to focus his career on films and television.
History (mid-and-later-life) Edit
In 1943, Swenson starred in two documentaries, December 7th and The Sikorsky Helicopter. In 1954, he began to appear on television, starting with Goodyear Television Playhouse and continuing with such show as The Inner Flame, Ponds Theater, Mr. Citizen, Pontiac Presents Playwrights '56, The United States Steel Hour, Robert Montgomery Presents, Circus Boy, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Tales of Wells Fargo, Gunsmoke, Leave It to Beaver, and Bachelor Father. In the last two shows, he appeared as "George Haskell" twice and as "Charley (aka Charlie) Burton" three times, respectively. In the years 1958 & 1959 alone, he had appeared in over thirty-five TV shows.
During this time, he appeared in the films Four Boys and a Gun (1957), That Night! (1957), Kings Go Forth (1958), The Badlanders (1958), No Name on the Bullet (1959), The Hanging Tree (1959), Ice Palace (1960), One Foot in Hell (1960), North to Alaska (1960), Flaming Star (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Walk on the Wild Side (1962), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), The Spiral Road (1962), The Birds (1963), The Man from Galveston (1963), The Sword in the Stone (voice of Merlin) (1963), and The Prize (1963),
In 1960, Swenson divorced Virgina Hanscom, his wife of 30 years and mother of their four sons. He later married Joan Tompkins, who would remain with him to his death.
Between 1960 and 1978 Swenson would appear in over 100 TV shows including, Maverick, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Rifleman, Alfred Hithcock Presents, Klondike, The Untouchables, Laramie, 77 Sunset Strip, Wagon Train, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Perry Mason, The Fugitive, Rawhide, The Big Valley, Bonanza (where he met Michael Landon), Misson: Impossible, The Virginian, Hawaii Five-O, The Mod Squad, Lassie, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Cimarron Strip, Dr. Kildare, and Sam Benedict, the last three of which he played recurring characters "Dr. Kihlgren, Judge" (similar to a character he later played in Judd, for the Defense), and "Barney Rossvalley", respectively.
In 1967, Swenson acquired the guest role of Dr. Karl Svenson for the Hogan's Heroes episode How to Win Friends and Influence Nazis, where he plays a friendly Swedish scientist who is working for Nazi Germany.
In 1974, Swenson acquired the role of "Lars Hanson" in Little House on the Prairie and retained the role until his death in 1978. "Lars Hanson" would appear in over forty episodes as the founder of the show's town and as the owner of the local lumber mill.
- All About the Birds (Video documentary) (Self) (2000)
- The Music of Disney: A Legacy in Song (Video documentary) (Self) (1992)
- Halloween Treat (Video) (1982)
- Dan August: Murder, My Friend (TV Movie) (1980)
- Little House Years (TV Movie) (1979)
- The Horror Show (TV Documentary) (1979)
- The Gun and the Pulpit (TV Movie) (1974)
- Ulzana's Raid (1972)
- The New Healers (TV Movie) (1972)
- A Howling in the Woods (TV Movie) (1971)
- The Birdmen (TV Movie) (uncredited) (1971)
- The Vanishing Point (1971)
- The Wild Country (1970)
- ...tick... tick... tick..." (1970)
- Tiger, Tiger (TV Movie) (1969)
- Hour of the Gun (1967)
- Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1967)
- Seconds (1966)
- The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
- The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
- Major Dundee (1965)
- Diamond Jim: Skulduggery in Samantha (TV Movie) (1965)
- The Prize (1963)
- The Sword in the Stone (voice) (1963)
- The Sword in the Stone: Soundtrack (movie soundtrack) (1963)
- The Birds (1963)
- How the West Was Won (uncredited) (1962)
- The Spiral Road (1962)
- Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
- Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
- Flaming Star (1960)
- North to Alaska (1960)
- One Foot in Hell (1960)
- The Gallant Hours (1960)
- Ice Palace (1960)
- The Hanging Tree (1959)
- No Name on the Bullet (1959)
- The Badlanders (uncredited) (1958)
- Kings Go Forth (1958)
- That Night! (1957)
- Four Boys and a Gun (1957)
- December 7th (uncredited) (1943)
- The Sikorsky Helicopter (Documentary short) (narrator) (1943)
- Strangers All (uncredited) (1935)
Notable TV Guest Appearance Edit
Interesting Note: Many of his guest starring characters have names similar to his own: "Dr. Karl Svenson" (Hogan's Heroes), "Dr. Karl Hansen" (Lassie), "Dr. Carl Benson" (The Amazing Spider-Man), "Karlsen" (Twelve O'Clock High) and "Karl Swenson" (The Virginian); also, many of his characters' names are similar to each other: "Lars Larsen" (Circus Boy), "Lars Carlson" (Laramie), "Lars Karlgren" (Gunsmoke), "Lars Hansen" (Convoy), Nils Swenson (The Rifleman), "Capt. Nels Larson" (Bonanza), "Nelson" (The Virginian), "Lawson" (Kraft Mystery Theatre), "Carl Halsted" (The Court of Last Resort), "Abner Carson" (The United States Steel Hour), among others.
Yet another Interesting Note: Some of his character names were used on multiple shows: "Mr. Haskell" (Mr. Novak) and "Mr. [George] Haskell" (Leave it to Beaver), "Nelson" (The Virginian) and "Nelson" (The Eleventh Hour), along with "Lars Hansen" (Convoy) and (his most notable character) "Lars Hanson" (Little House on the Prairie).