HOLLYWOOD -- Actor Robert Young, who for 10 years served as the ideal TV patriarch in "Father Knows Best" and later went on to star in "Marcus Welby, M.D.," attempted suicide in his Westlake Village, Calif., home last week, according to authorities.

Lt. Bob Barrier, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said Young, 83, connected a hose from the exhaust pipe into his car's interior Jan. 12 at about 7:45 a.m.

Authorities were alerted after Young called a tow truck to try to start his car. The driver noticed the hose, Barrier said, and contacted authorities.

"Mr. Young had been drinking, and he admitted that he had tried to end his life," Barrier said.

The actor voluntarily admitted himself for a 24-hour observation at Charter Hospital, a nearby psychiatric treatment facility, Barrier said. Barrier did not know how long Young remained at the hospital.

Young's agent could not be reached for comment Saturday.

After the incident, Elizabeth Young, 81, the actor's wife of more than 40 years, told authorities that her husband had asked her to "form a pact with him" to commit suicide.

"She thought he was just rambling," Barrier said.

Young has had a history of depression and alcoholism, and in previous interviews with the Los Angeles Times he spoke of feeling guilty about portraying the steadfast, contented Jim Anderson of "Father Knows Best" when he was often unhappy himself.

Young portrayed Anderson, the archetype of an understanding, caring father, through more than 200 episodes from 1954 to 1963.