Actor Don Porter, who was Ann Sothern's boss in "Private Secretary" and Sally Field's dad in "Gidget," has died. He was 84.

Porter died Feb. 11 in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.While Porter appeared in many television dramas as stern characters, he put on his fatherly mien in 1965 to play professor Russ Lawrence, the widowed father of Field's teenage surf bunny Gidget. The show ran for a year.

Before that, Porter was in "Private Secretary," one of television's earliest sitcoms. He played Peter Sands, the New York talent agent boss of secretary Susie McNamera, played by Sothern. The show ran from 1953 to 1957. Porter also was Sothern's boss in "The Ann Sothern Show," which aired from 1958 to 1961.

Born in Oklahoma, Porter served in World War II and then began his show-business career in a Portland, Ore., theater.

He appeared in more than 200 plays across the country, including roles on Broadway in "Plaza Suite," "Any Wednesday" and a revival of "The Front Page."

Porter is survived by his wife and frequent co-star, actress Peggy Converse; daughter Melissa Converse, also an actress; and a son, Don Jr., an architect.