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Royal Dano: Character Actor Who Played Abraham Lincoln

I'm a fan of classic TV shows and films. My articles focus on the character actors and actress who usually played supporting roles.

Royal Dano as Long Tom in 1952's "Where the River Bends" (aka "Bend of the River")

Royal Dano as Long Tom in 1952's "Where the River Bends" (aka "Bend of the River")

Royal Dano: Quick Facts

Born: 16 November 1922 (New York City, USA)

Died: 15 May 1994 (Los Angeles, California, USA)

Cause of Death: Pulmonary Fibrosis (Heart Attack)

Film and TV Appearances: 193+

Years Active: 1949–1993

Early Life

Born Royal Edward Dano (later Senior after the birth of one of his sons) in 1992, Royal Dano was the son of immigrant parents. When he was 12 years he supposedly ran away from home, travelling and living in Texas, Florida, and California. Eventually, he was persuaded by his father to return home to finish school and he graduated in 1942. He then attended New York University.

Enlisting in the Army during World War II, he was assigned to the 44th Special Service Provisional Company where he became interested in acting. After the war (he was discharged with the rank of Sergeant) he began looking for stage roles in New York. In 1947 he made his Broadway debut as Mr Shears in the musical Finian's Rainbow.

Other Broadway productions he appeared in were Mrs. Gibbons' Boys (1949); Metropole (1949); She Stoops to Conquer (1949-1950); Four Twelves are 48 (1951) and Three Wishes for Jamie (1952)—all relative failures.

A supporting actor only has to work that much harder, carefully planning his or her performance to enhance the entire storyline and star players.

— Royal Dano

Royal Dano's Film Career

In 1949, Dano turned his attention to Hollywood and made his film debut in an uncredited role in the film The Black Book. Over the next 44 years, he appeared in films ranging from dramas and westerns to horror.

Some of the films he appeared in included The Red Badge of Courage (1951), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), and The Right Stuff (1983).

Here is a list of other films he acted in:

  • Undercover Girl (1950)
  • Johnny Guitar (1954)
  • The Trouble with Harry (1955)
  • Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)
  • Trooper Hook (1957)
  • Man of the West (1958)
  • Face of Fire (1959)
  • King of Kings (1961)
  • 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1963)
  • Gunpoint (1966)
  • Welcome to Hard Times (1967)
  • Day of the Evil Gun (1968)
  • The Undefeated (1969)
  • Skin Game (1971)
  • The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972)
  • Messiah of Evil (1973)
  • Big Bad Mama (1974)
  • Capone (1975)
  • Bad Georgia Road (1977)
  • The One Man Jury (1978)
  • Take This Job and Shove It (1981)
  • Hammett (1982)
  • Teachers (1984)
  • Cocaine Wars (1985)
  • Red Headed Stranger (1986)
  • Spaced Invaders (1990)
  • Joey Takes a Cab (1991)
Royal Dano as Hody Linquist in the season 3 episode "Paniolo" of "Hawaii Five-O" (1968-1980)

Royal Dano as Hody Linquist in the season 3 episode "Paniolo" of "Hawaii Five-O" (1968-1980)

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As well as making his film debut in 1949, Dano also made his television debut the same year, appearing in an episode of the TV series Lights Out. The majority of his acting roles came from television and he guest-starred on several TV shows two to seven times, with the most being on Gunsmoke (13 episodes).

Television movies and mini-series he appeared in were Cavalry Patrol (1956); Decisions! Decisions! (1971); The Manhunter (1972); Huckleberry Finn (1975); How the West Was Won (1976-1977); Murder in Peyton Place (1977); Donner Pass: The Road to Survival (1978); Crash (1978); Strangers: The Story of a Mother and Daughter (1979); The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979); Will There Really Be a Morning? (1983); LBJ: The Early Years (1987); and Once Upon a Texas Train (1988).

Some of the TV shows he guest-starred on included Suspense; Justice; Studio One in Hollywood; Father Knows Best; Climax!; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Route 66; The Rebel; The Rifleman; Target: The Corruptors; Tales of Wells Fargo; Wagon Train; Rawhide; The Virginian; Bonanza; Daniel Boone; Cimarron Strip; The Guns of Will Sonnett; The Big Valley; Death Valley Days; The F.B.I.; Police Story; Emergency!; Quincy M.E.; Little House on the Prairie; CHiPs; Amazing Stories; and Twin Peaks.

In 1962, Dano voiced the role of Marley's Ghost in Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, a TV movie that has become a Christmas classic.

Royal often played the part of Abraham Lincoln because he did resembled the former President.

— John A. Rose - Payback! (2015)

Abraham Lincoln

In 1953, Dano first appeared as Abraham Lincoln in the play The Tall Kentuckian for the 175th anniversary of the city of Louisville. Over the course of his acting career, he continued to play Lincoln on television and as a voice actor.

On television, Dano played Lincoln in the 5-part Omnibus series entitled "Abraham Lincoln" (1952-1953). His next role as Lincoln was in a 1961 episode of the TV series The Rifleman (episode: "Honest Abe").

For the New York World's Fair in 1964, Walt Disney wanted an actor to voice Lincoln for the attraction (as part of the State of Illinois pavilion) Great Moments with Mr Lincoln. He chose Dano based on his Omnibus performance. The animatronic attraction was opened at Disneyland in 1965 and has continued to appear in many forms (with the occasional hiatus) since then. The current version of the show uses a cleaner recording of Dano reciting parts of the speech from the original 1964 attraction.

Royal Dano as the Voice of Abraham Lincoln

Dano received very few accolades during his acting career. He was nominated by the New York City Critic's Circle as one of the Promising Actors of 1949. In 1993 he was honoured at the Tuolumne County Wild West Film Festival for his roles in Westerns.

He met his wife Peggy during his time in the Army and they had two sons: Royal Edward Dano Jr. (who died on 25 February 1994, a few months before his father) and Richard (Rick) Dano who is the father of actor/rapper Hutch Dano (aka Fahrenheit 51). His last appearance was in the film The Dark Half (1993).

Shortly after a car accident, Dano had a heart attack. He died on 15 May 1994 and was buried with his son Royal Edward Jr. at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.


He came from the Bushwich section of Brooklyn. Dano was short for a much longer name. I do not know the spelling. My brother was good friends with his brother Taylor. on November 18, 2018:

He came from the Bushwich section of Brooklyn. Dano was short for a much longer name. I do not know the spelling. My brother was good friends with his brother Taylor.

Jane Earle on November 17, 2018:

I was one of the children in Finian's Rainbow- Mr Dano played Sears - not Shears, he was one half of Sears & Roebuck - skit.

Creeper from Aw Man on February 11, 2016:

Great list, ill never forget his performance in Gunpoint, Zoidberg.

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