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Richard Carlson (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Richard Carlson
Carlson in 1952
Richard Dutoit Carlson

(1912-04-29)April 29, 1912
DiedNovember 25, 1977(1977-11-25) (aged 65)
Resting placeLos Angeles National Cemetery
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
Occupation(s)Actor, director, screenwriter
Years active1935–1975
Mona Carlson
(m. 1939)

Richard Dutoit Carlson (April 29, 1912 – November 25, 1977) was an American actor, television and film director, and screenwriter.

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Early life

Carlson was the son of a Danish-born lawyer[1] in Albert Lea, Minnesota.[2] He majored in drama at the University of Minnesota, where he wrote and directed plays and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[3][1] He graduated cum laude with a Master of Arts degree.[3] Carlson then opened his own repertory theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[2] When the theater failed, Carlson moved to New York City.[2]



In 1935, Carlson made his acting debut on Broadway in Three Men on a Horse, and appeared with Ethel Barrymore in Ghost of Yankee Doodle (1937-8) and Whiteoaks (1938).[2]

In 1937, he wrote and staged the play Western Waters, which ran for only seven performances.[4][5] He also appeared in Now You've Done It (1937).[citation needed]

Early films

Carlson then moved to California, where he joined the Pasadena Playhouse.[3] His first film role was in The Young in Heart (1938). He had a supporting role in The Duke of West Point (1938) then was second billed to Ann Sheridan in Winter Carnival (1939).[6] He returned to Broadway for Stars in Your Eyes (1939). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cast him in two films with Lana Turner (These Glamour Girls and Dancing Co-Ed, both released in 1939).[citation needed]

Carlson was the male lead in such films as Little Accident (1939), Beyond Tomorrow (1940), The Ghost Breakers (1940), The Howards of Virginia (1940), Too Many Girls (1940), No, No, Nanette (1941), Back Street (1941), West Point Widow (1941), The Little Foxes (1941), Secrets of G32 (1942), The Affairs of Martha (1942), Highways by Night (1942), and My Heart Belongs to Daddy (1942).


Carlson appeared in several films for MGM in the early 1940s, including White Cargo (1942), Presenting Lily Mars (1943), A Stranger in Town (1943), Young Ideas (1943), and The Man from Down Under (1943).

During World War II, Carlson served in the United States Navy.[1]


When he returned to Hollywood, he had few offers of employment, and turned to writing to supplement his income.[1]

He landed supporting roles in So Well Remembered (1947) and The Amazing Mr. X (1948) and the lead in Behind Locked Doors (1948). In 1950, he co-starred with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger in the highly successful adventure film King Solomon's Mines, filmed on location in the Kenya Colony and the Belgian Congo. While shooting in Africa, Carlson wrote a series of articles for The Saturday Evening Post, collectively titled "Diary of a Hollywood Safari."[2]

Despite the film's success, Carlson remained a supporting actor: The Sound of Fury (1950), Valentino (1951), A Millionaire for Christy (1951), and The Blue Veil (1951). He did play the lead in the low-budget Whispering Smith Hits London (1952), and Retreat, Hell! (1952).

On July 14, 1951, Carlson and then U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey were the guests on the CBS live variety show Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town, in which hostess Faye Emerson visited Minneapolis to accent the kinds of music popular in the city.[7]

Carlson began to appear regularly on television shows such as The Ford Theatre Hour, Cameo Theatre, Lights Out, Celanese Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, Hollywood Opening Night, and The Ford Television Theatre.

Carlson appeared in the films The Rose Bowl Story (1952), Eagles of the Fleet (1952), and Seminole (1953).

Carlson wrote episodes of Schlitz Playhouse and Kraft Theatre.[citation needed]

Science fiction

Carlson played the lead in The Magnetic Monster (1953) which led to him finding a niche in the newly re-emergent genres of science fiction and horror.[1]

He followed it with leads in The Maze (1953), It Came from Outer Space (1953) with Barbara Rush, and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) with Julie Adams. He also had the male lead in All I Desire (1953). He also starred in the 1954 movie Riders to the Stars.

From 1953 to 1956, he starred in the TV series I Led 3 Lives.


Carlson's success in the genre led him to the director's chair for the 1954 science fiction film Riders to the Stars, in which he also starred.

He then directed Four Guns to the Border (1954).

Carlson kept busy on television in shows like General Electric Theatre, Matinee Theatre, Kraft Theatre, Lux Video Theatre, Climax!, Studio One in Hollywood, Schlitz Playhouse, and The Best of Broadway. He also appeared in films like The Last Command (1955), Bengazi (1955) and The Helen Morgan Story (1957).

His third feature as director was Appointment with a Shadow (1957).

In 1957 and 1958, Carlson played "Mr. Fiction Writer" in three of the nine films made for television collectively titled The Bell Laboratory Science Series. He also directed his final film for the project, The Unchained Goddess.

In 1957 he was cast as two different clergymen, Rabbi Avraham Soltes and Father William Wendt, in the episodes "The Happy Gift" and "Call for Help", respectively, of the syndicated religious anthology series, Crossroads.

Carlson's fourth film as director was The Saga of Hemp Brown (1958) and he wrote Johnny Rocco (1958).[8]

Mackenzie's Raiders

In 1959, Carlson was cast as Paul Drake in "The Faithless" of the NBC western series Riverboat, with Darren McGavin. In the story line, Drake is an escaped prisoner with medical training being transported on the river vessel, the Enterprise, back to jail. Having lost his religious faith, Drake refuses to render medical assistance to a two-year-old girl stricken with a communicable disease which threatens the entire vessel. William Phipps and Jeanne Bates play the parents of the child. Bethel Leslie portrays Cathy Norris.[9]

Carlson began directing for television: The Man and the Challenge (which he also wrote for), This Man Dawson, Men Into Space, Alcoa Premiere, and The Detectives.

His early 1960s credits as actor included The Chevy Mystery Show, Tormented, The Aquanauts (which he also directed), The Loretta Young Show (which he also directed), Bus Stop, Thriller (which he also directed), Going My Way, Arrest and Trial, The Fugitive, Wagon Train, The Christophers, and Burke's Law. He wrote episodes of Daktari and the movie Island of the Lost (1967).

In 1965, he played a mad scientist who creates a mutant, killer octopus in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode "The Village of Guilt".

He was in the films Della (1965) and Kid Rodelo (1965), directing the latter. He acted in the series The Virginian, Bonanza and Rawhide.

In the final two seasons of CBS's Perry Mason, Carlson made two guest appearances, both times as the murder victim. In 1964 he played Anthony Fry in "The Case of the Tragic Trophy;" in 1966, he played Clete Hawley in "The Case of the Avenging Angel."

Later work

Carlson was in the movies The Doomsday Flight (1966), The Power (1968), and The Valley of Gwangi (1968). Carlson's last movie role was in the 1969 Elvis Presley/Mary Tyler Moore film, Change of Habit.

Carlson appeared in episodes of The FBI, Lancer, Cannon, Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, and Mobile One. His final role was in a 1975 episode of the television series Khan!. Carlson wrote for O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law and Mannix.

Personal life

Carlson married Mona Carlson in 1939.

He died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 65 on November 25, 1977, in Encino, California.[10] He was buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery in West Los Angeles.


Carlson is often mistaken for actor Hugh Marlowe. In spite of a notable resemblance, the two actors were not related.

For his contribution to the television industry, Carlson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6333 Hollywood Blvd.


Year Title Role Notes
1938 The Young in Heart Duncan Macrae
The Duke of West Point Jack West
1939 Winter Carnival Professor John Welden
These Glamour Girls Joe
Dancing Co-Ed Michael "Pug" Braddock
Little Accident Perry Allerton
1940 Beyond Tomorrow James Houston
The Ghost Breakers Geoff Montgomery
The Howards of Virginia Thomas Jefferson
Too Many Girls Clint Kelly
No, No, Nanette Tom Gillespie
1941 Back Street Curt Stanton
West Point Widow Dr. Jimmy Krueger
Hold That Ghost Dr. Duncan "Doc" Jackson Alternative title: Oh Charlie
The Little Foxes David Hewitt
1942 Fly-by-Night Dr. Geoffrey Burton
The Affairs of Martha Jeff Sommerfield
Highways by Night Tommy Van Steel
My Heart Belongs to Daddy Prof. Richard Inglethorpe Culbertson Kay
White Cargo Mr. Langford
1943 Presenting Lily Mars Owen Vail
A Stranger in Town Bill Adams
Young Ideas Tom Farrell
The Man from Down Under "Nipper" Wilson
1947 So Well Remembered Charles Winslow
1948 The Amazing Mr. X Martin Abbott
Behind Locked Doors Ross Stewart
1950 King Solomon's Mines John Goode
The Sound of Fury Gil Stanton Alternative title: Try and Get Me
1951 Valentino Bill King
A Millionaire for Christy Dr. Roland Cook
The Blue Veil Gerald Kean
1952 Whispering Smith Hits London Whispering Smith
Retreat, Hell! Captain Paul Hansen
The Rose Bowl Story Narrator Voice, Uncredited
Flat Top Lt. Rodgers
1953 The Magnetic Monster Dr. Jeffrey Stewart
Seminole Major Harlan Degan
It Came from Outer Space John Putnam
The Maze Gerald MacTeam
All I Desire Henry Murdoch
The Golden Blade Narrator Voice, Uncredited
1954 Riders to the Stars Dr. Jerome "Jerry" Lockwood Also directed
Creature from the Black Lagoon Dr. David Reed
1955 An Annapolis Story Narrator Voice, Uncredited
The Last Command William B. Travis Alternative title: San Antonio de Bexar
Bengazi Insp. Levering
1956 Three for Jamie Dawn Martin Random
1957 The Helen Morgan Story Russell Wade
1960 Tormented Tom Stewart
1964 Della David Stafford
1966 Kid Rodelo Link Also director
The Doomsday Flight Chief Pilot Bob Shea TV movie written by Rod Serling
1968 The Power Professor Norman E. Van Zandt
1969 The Valley of Gwangi Champ
Change of Habit Bishop Finley
Year Title Role Notes
1953–1956 I Led Three Lives Herbert Philbrick
1954 General Electric Theater Archie Hawkins 1 episode
The Best of Broadway Mike Connor 1 episode
1959 Riverboat Paul Drake 1 episode
The Man and the Challenge
Director, 1 episode
Men into Space
Director, 1 episode
1960 The Aquanauts Ross Porter 1 episode
1961–1962 The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor
Director, 5 episodes
1962 Bus Stop George Whaley 1 episode
Thriller Guy Guthrie 1 episode
Going My Way Francis Delaney 1 episode
1964 Arrest and Trial Turner Leigh 1 episode
The Fugitive Allan Pruitt 1 episode
The Virginian Sheriff Marden Episode "Smile of a Dragon"
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' Lars Mattson 1 episode
1964, 1966 Perry Mason Anthony Fry, Clete Hawley 2 episodes
1965 The Virginian Major Ralph Forrester Episode "Farewell to Honesty"
1968 Bonanza Arch Hollinbeck 1 episode
1969 It Takes a Thief Daniel K. Ryder 1 episode
The F.B.I. Harold David Dewitt 1 episode
Lancer Judah Abbott 1 episode
1971–1973 O'Hara, U.S. Treasury
Writer, 3 episodes
1972–1973 Cannon Owen McMahon; Mr. Archibald 2 episodes
1973 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Al Downes 1 episode
1975 Khan! 1 episode


  1. ^ a b c d e Weaver, Tom; Schecter, David; Kronenberg, Steve (2014-10-31). The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy. McFarland. ISBN 9781476615806.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Richard Carlson, Actor, Dies at 65; Star of 'I Led Three Lives' on TV". The New York Times. 1977-11-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  3. ^ a b c "Richard Carlson Dies, Actor In TV Series, Films, Writer". The Washington Post. 1977-11-27. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  4. ^ Bordman, Gerald (1996-11-21). American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1930–1969. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780195090796.
  5. ^ League, The Broadway. "Western Waters – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  6. ^ Schallert, Edwin (September 22, 1938). "Political Subject Next on Capra Slate: 'Career Man' Planned Sheehan May Sign Janet Woods Back in Films 'West Point' Cast Set". Los Angeles Times. p. 19.
  7. ^ "Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town". Classic Television Archives. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  8. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (Sep 21, 1957). "Leo M'carey, Fox in 3-picture deal: Director-Producer's First Is 'Marco Polo'--Paramount Signs Miss Bel Geddes Widmark Will be Outlaw". The New York Times. p. 23.
  9. ^ "The Faithless", Riverboat November 22, 1959 at IMDb
  10. ^ Jarvis, Everett Grant (1996). Final Curtain: Deaths of Noted Movie and TV Personalities, 1912–1996 (8 ed.). Carol Pub. Group. p. 65.

External links

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