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Never a big star, Ray Teal managed to have a nearly 40-year stint as a scowling character actor. He was best known for playing Sheriff Roy Coffee on the classic TV Western "Bonanza" from 1960 to 1972.
Teal didn't aspire to be an actor, not landing his first role until his mid-30s. Before then, he was a saxophone player and a bandleader, but the late start did not affect his employability.
Aside from his work on "Bonanza," Teal appeared in over 300 television shows and movies (including the classics "Inherit the Wind" and "The Best Years of Our Lives") until his retirement in 1974. Among the highlights: a judge who disagrees with Spencer Tracy over the treatment of Nazi war criminals in the 1961 Oscar-winner "Judgment at Nuremberg" and playing Little John in 1946's "The Bandit of Sherwood Forest."
Perhaps the biggest irony in a career playing mean-spirited hombres is that, by all accounts, Teal was a very nice man.
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