Prolific character actor Robert Patten was a familiar presence in television almost from the medium's infancy: his first small-screen credit was on a 1951 teleplay presented by the popular anthology series "Armstrong Circle Theatre." Patten had been struggling in Hollywood for several years prior to that break, most often as an uncredited extra in B movies. His highest-profile early role was as the gung-ho young pilot Lieutenant Jesse Bishop in the classic World War II aviator drama "Twelve O'Clock High." As television grew in stature, Patten began to work primarily in that medium; though he had tiny roles in popular films from the classic romance "Breakfast at Tiffany's" to the late '70s rock-&-roll comedy "FM," his only high-profile film role for the rest of his career was as the pilot of an imperiled airliner in the 1970 disaster flick "Airport." On television, Patten filled a particular niche as a character actor, playing cops, government agents, doctors, military men, and other bland authority figures. On several shows, including Jack Webb's classic police procedural "Dragnet," its more action-oriented spinoff "Adam-12," the family drama "Lassie," and the crime drama "The F.B.I.," Patten appeared in multiple episodes playing entirely different characters. His workload slowed down as the 1980s dawned; his final screen credit came in a 1993 episode of Angela Lansbury's cozy mystery series, "Murder, She Wrote."