William Henry Rorke was born October 23, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York.
His mother was stage and screen actress Margaret Hayden Rorke.
His interest in acting led him to become president of the Dramatics Society at his Brooklyn high school.
He then continued his education at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
After taking his mothers maiden name as his first name, Hayden began a stage career in the 1930’s with the Hampden Theatrical Company.
World War II
Hayden enlisted in the army where he actually made his film debut in the musical “This is the Army” starring Ronald Reagan, for which he was a soldier in the background and an uncredited stage manager.
Following the war, he picked up small parts on Broadway, before finally returning to Hollywood and landing an uncredited role in the 1949 film “Lust for Gold.”
This opened a door at least, and Hayden was eventually given a credited role in the 1949 film “Rope of Sand” starring Burt Lancaster.
In those days, small bit parts were often uncredited, so the dozen or so movies he appeared in during the 1950’s are uncredited.
Then in 1957, Hayden played the film agent Steve in the CBS television series “Mr. Adams and Eve” starring the real life married couple Howard Duff and Ida Lupino.
He made the 1959 film “Pillow Talk” and continued to play guest roles on several television shows.
Between 1960 and 1963, he guest starred on three episodes of CBS’s “Perry Mason”
In 1963, Hayden appeared in the film “Spencer’s Mountain” before landing the role of Colonel Farnsworth in the short lived 1964 ABC sitcom “No Time for Sergeants” based on the Andy Griffith film.
He appeared in the 1964 film “The Night Walker” and made appearances on television programs such as I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Barnaby Jones, Wonder Woman and the Love Boat.
I Dream of Jeannie
NBC asked Sidney Sheldon to create and produce a show in response to the great success of rival network ABC’s “Bewitched” series.
Sideny Sheldon was inspited by the 1964 film “The Brass Bottle” which starred Tony Randall, Barbara Eden and Burl Ives.
Sheldon then came up with the idea for the pilot where a beautiful female genie named “Jeannie.”
The writers then settled on the idea of astronaut Tony Nelson that returns from a space flight far from the planned recovery area and near a deserted island in the South Pacific. On the beach, Tony discovers a strange bottle that rolls by itself. When he rubs it after removing the stopper, smoke shoots out and a female genie wearing a sexy harem costume materializes and kisses Tony.
Tony asks to be rescued which causes a recovery helicopter to appear. Grateful, he tells her she is free, but she has been trapped for 2,000 years and puts herself and her bottle in his duffel bag.
The writers decide to have Tony keep Jeannie in her bottle most of the time, but finally relents and allows her to enjoy a life of her own. However, her life is devoted mostly to his, and most of their problems stem from her love and affection towards Master, and her desire to please him and fulfill her ancient heritage as a genie – especially when he doesn’t want her to do so.
Tony’s efforts to cover up Jeannie’s antics, because of his fear that he would be dismissed from the space program if her existence were known, brings him to the attention of NASA’s resident psychiatrist, US Air Force Colonel Dr. Alfred Bellows.
Hayden Rorke landed this role, turning the character into a running gag.
His character, Dr. Bellows tries over and over to prove to his superiors that Tony is either crazy or hiding something, but he is always foiled (“He’s done it to me, again!”) and Tony’s job remains secure.
Nevertheless, the Dr. Bellows character relentlessly devotes his entire life to “figuring out” Major Nelson.
The show debuted at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 18, 1965, on NBC.
Today, Hayden Rorke is best known for his role as Dr. Bellows.
I Dream of Jeannie was canceled in 1970, immediately going into reruns and becoming the first off-network series to beat out current primetime network programing.
Barbara Eden described Hayden as a “prince” who was a good friend of all and always managed to keep up the spirits of the I Dream of Jeannie cast, often in difficult circumstances.
Hayden later reprized his role in the 1985 television reunion movie, I Dream of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later.
Hayden Rorke died August 19, 1987 of multiple myeloma in 1987 at age 76.
Now WE know em