One of the staples of 1960’s & 70’s television has died. Ivan Dixon, the actor-turned-director most noted for his role as the cool, laid-back cigar smoking POW Sgt. James ‘Kinch’ Kinchloe in the TV hit show “Hogan’s Heroes,” died Sunday after complications from a hemorrhage and kidney failure. His family made the announcement this morning. He was 76.
Dixon appeared in more than 40 different television series in his 51 year show business career either as a regular cast member or guest star. He made several episodes of the original “Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits,” and had stints on such geek-fan faves as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “The Fugitive” and “I Spy.”
His career began in 1957 and within two years he had landed the role of Jim in “Porgy and Bess” opposite mega-stars such as Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Brock Peters. From then on his career kept spiraling upward. His most popular big screen film role to date is still the gravely voiced Lonnie in the sleeper hit comedy “Car Wash.”
Dixon was nominated for an Emmy in 1967 for his performance as the lead in the “CBS Playhouse special drama “The Final War of Olly Winter.”
While Dixon was a fine actor, he really shined behind the camera as a highly sought after director. Some of his best directing gigs took place on Tom Selleck’s hit Emmy and Golden Globe winning series “Magnum P.I.,” in which he helmed 13 different episodes between 1982 through 1986. He also directed episodes of “Quantum Leap,” the original “Wonder Woman” and “The Bionic Woman,” starring Lindsey Wagner.
The great Sidney Poitier once said of Dixon, “As an actor, you had to be careful, He was quite likely to walk off with the scene.”