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."