At the age of 11, Bochner began his acting career on Ontario radio programs. He went on to garner two Liberty Awards, the highest acting honour in Canada, for his work in Canadian film and theatre. In 1951 he moved to New York City and appeared in early television series such as One Man’s Family and Kraft Television Theatre. In 1960, ABC called with a starring role in the series Hong Kong with co-star Rod Taylor. Faced against NBC’s Wagon Train, then one of the most highly rated programs on the air, Hong Kong ended with the twenty-sixth episode. In 1961, he guest starred in The Americans, an American Civil War drama about how the conflict divided families, starring Darryl Hickman. A few years later, Bochner appeared in one of his most famous roles, that of a cryptographer attempting to decipher an alien text in the classic 1962 Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” a part he himself spoofed years later in the comedy The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear. In 1962 and 1963, he appeared in two episodes of the CBS anthology series, GE True, hosted by Jack Webb; he portrayed the part of Stoughton in “Code Name: Christopher, Part I” and Captain Ian Stuart in “Commando”.
From 1963 to 1964, Bochner was a member of the repertory cast of NBC’s The Richard Boone Show. In 1964, he guest starred in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Season One episode “The Fear-Makers”. Later that year he appeared as murderer Eric Pollard in the Perry Mason episode, “The Case of the Latent Lover.” In 1965, he guest starred on ABC’s western series The Legend of Jesse James starring Christopher Jones in the title role. Two years later, he appeared on the ABC military-western Custer starring Wayne Maunder in the title role. He appeared twice on the long-running television western The Virginian in the 1960s. Bochner is also memorably smooth and malicious as the gangster Carter up against Lee Marvin in John Boorman’s seminal 1960s film noir Point Blank. Over the years, Bochner continued to portray a variety of roles in television and film, from a warlock on Bewitched to a homosexual doctor coming out at middle age in the 1977 television-movie Terraces, to Pia Zadora’s abusive screenwriter husband in the camp classic film The Lonely Lady. In 1960, he starred in an adaptation of A. J. Cronin’s The Citadel along with Ann Blyth. His son Paul said he “almost always played a suave, handsome, wealthy villain.”
A typical and very famous Bochner role was that of the scheming Cecil Colby on Dynasty, in part due to his notorious death scene (the character suffered a heart attack while having sex with Alexis Carrington (Joan Collins), and later died in his hospital bed seconds after marrying her). A few years later, Bochner planned to star as C.C. Capwell on the daytime drama Santa Barbara, but a heart attack caused his departure from the series. Bochner continued to appear in television series for the next few decades, doing frequent voiceover work for the highly acclaimed animated TV shows Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. In 1998 Bochner co-founded the Committee to End Violence, a panel designed to study the impact violent images had on culture. He was also active in Association of Canadian Radio and Television Artists and was a licensed amateur radio operator. He joined the Stratford Festival of Canada in its first season in 1953 and spent six years there, playing Horatio in Hamlet, Orsino in Twelfth Night, and Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure opposite James Mason.
In 1966, Bochner played the author Robert Louis Stevenson in the episode “Jolly Roger and Wells Fargo” of the syndicated television series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Robert Taylor and directed by Denver Pyle. In 1969, Bochner played a handsome Warlock named Franklyn in a Season 5 episode of Bewitched, titled “Marriage Witches Style”. In 1970, Bochner played a strangler on Hawaii Five-O. It was the season 3, episode 12, called Beautiful Screamer. Later on Hawaii Five-O, he was the Navy Captain in a 1975 episode called, Murder: Eyes Only. He appeared in the episode “Prosecutor” of the ABC crime drama The Silent Force in 1970, the episode “The Pisces” of the short-lived TV show The Starlost in 1973, a 1977 episode of the ABC crime drama The Feather and Father Gang, and an episode of the 1977 ABC situation comedy The San Pedro Beach Bums. He was Commandant Leiter in the Battlestar Galactica original series episode “Greetings from Earth”. He also appeared as a Royal Air Force officer and his German double on an episode of Hogan’s Heroes in the episode “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To London.” He played a chess coach in an episode of Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match (1973). In two episodes of The Golden Girls, he played a suave television-turned-stage actor (and womanizer) in 1987 and Eduardo the Barber in 1989. Bochner was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to a middle-class Jewish family. He was married to Ruth Roher Bochner, a concert pianist, until his death of cancer on October 29, 2005, at the age of 81 at home in Santa Monica, California. Bochner and his wife had three children — Hart Bochner (actor, who also provided voices for Batman), Paul and a daughter, Johanna.
- July, 29, 1924
- Toronto, Ontario
- October, 29, 2005
- Santa Monica, California
Cause of Death
- Westwood Memorial Park
- Los Angeles, California