Jeff Richards (baseball player/actor)

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Jeff Richards
Jeff Richards in The Opposite Sex trailer.jpg
Richards as Buck Winston in The Opposite Sex (1956).
Born Richard Mansfield Taylor
(1924-11-01)November 1, 1924
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Died July 28, 1989(1989-07-28) (aged 64)
San Bernardino, California, U.S.
Occupation Baseball player, actor
Years active 1946-1949 (Baseball, shortstop)
1948-1966 (film and television)
Spouse(s) Shirley Sibre (m. 1954–1955) (divorced)
Vickie Taylor (1955-?)

Jeff Richards (November 1, 1924 – July 28, 1989) was an American minor league baseball player with the Portland Beavers, who later became an actor. He was sometimes credited as Dick Taylor and Richard Taylor.

He is best known for his role as Benjamin Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Following this performance, he tied with George Nader and Joe Adams for the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. Despite this, his acting career soon floundered.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born Richard Mansfield Taylor in Portland, Oregon. Taylor joined the United States Navy during World War II and served until 1946.

After the war was over, Richard Taylor played shortstop for the Portland Beavers for a year and then for the Salem Senators; however, his baseball career ended after he tore a ligament and was unable to play anymore.

Early Acting Career[edit]

He then went to Hollywood to pursue a film career.[1] His first roles included uncredited bits at Warner Bros in The Big Punch (1948), Johnny Belinda (1948), Fighter Squadron (1948) and The Girl from Jones Beach (1949).

At 20th Century Fox, he had small roles in Mother Is a Freshman (1949), and Cheaper by the Dozen (1950). He went to Columbia to make Kill the Umpire (1950), cast as "Richard Taylor". He played a baseball player and publicity said he used to play for Salem in the Western League and that they had spent six weeks trying to cast the role.[2]

MGM[edit]

He got a screen test at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and the studio changed his name to Jeff Richards.

Richards had uncredited roles in The Strip (1951), The Tall Target (1951), and The People Against O'Hara (1951) and a bigger credited part in Angels in the Outfield (1951) as a baseball player.[3] He was being sought to play Frank Merriwell.[4]

Richards had small roles in Just This Once (1952), The Sellout (1952), Desperate Search (1952), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Above and Beyond (1952), and Battle Circus (1953).[5] He had a slightly bigger part in Code Two (1953).[6]

Career Peak[edit]

Richards had his first sizeable one, billed third as a ball player, in Big Leaguer (1954).[7] Seagulls Over Sorrento (1954) was another decent sized role. Then Richards was the third lead in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), after Howard Keel and Jane Powell. It was a big hit and established him as a film name. MGM started to build him up as a star.[8] Dore Schary, head of the studio, said the actor had "tremendous personal charm" and "looks like a great bet [to become a star], based on his reception til now."[9]

MGM announced him as star of O'Kelley's Eclipse but it was not made.[10] He was announced for Forbidden Planet but did not appear in the final film.[11] Bar Sinister with Roger Moore was announced but not made.[12]

Richards was one of Eleanor Parker's brothers in Many Rivers to Cross (1955) and was finally given a star part in the Western The Marauders (1955) playing a hero opposite Dan Duryea. He was top billed in It's a Dog's Life (1955) and had one of the male leads in the musical The Opposite Sex (1956).[13]

The Marauders, It's a Dog's Life and The Opposite Sex all lost money and MGM began to lose enthusiasm for Richards. He began working on TV, guest starring in "Man with a Choice" for The Web (1957) and "The Other Side of the Curtain" for Suspicion.[14]

Richard's supported Glenn Ford in MGM's popular comedy Don't Go Near the Water (1957) but it was a relatively minor role. In April 1957 he secured his release from the studio.[15]

Post MGM[edit]

Richards guest starred on The Millionaire, and Schlitz Playhouse, then co-starred with Mamie Van Doren in the Warner Bros rodeo drama Born Reckless (1958).

In 1958, on television, Richards played the title role in the NBC western television series Jefferson Drum (1958–59), the story of a crusading journalist, with Eugene Martin portraying his young son. The series was cancelled after twenty-six episodes aired over two seasons.[16]

He also had the lead in Island of Lost Women (1959) made by Jaguar Productions. Richards signed a five-year contract with Jaguar to make two films a year[17] but made no further films for them.

He guest starred in Behind Closed Doors, Alcoa Theatre, Adventures in Paradise, and Laramie and played the role in 1961 of Jubal Evans in the episode "Incident of His Brother's Keeper" of the CBS western Rawhide.

Richard's last lead role was in the underwater adventure The Secret of the Purple Reef (1960). His last role was in 1966 as Kallen in the film Waco.[18]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Vickie Taylor in 1955[19] and they had one child (a son born in 1957[20]) before they divorced.

Jeff Richards died on July 28, 1989, aged 64 from unknown causes. He is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffman, J. (1956, Jan 29). Former baseball players agree motion pictures beat baseball. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166861992?accountid=13902
  2. ^ Schallert, E. (1949, Oct 19). 'Blind spot' recruits broadway actors; gene lockhart in 'salesman'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166011281?accountid=13902
  3. ^ Schallert, E. (1951, Apr 20). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166236693?accountid=13902
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (1951, May 03). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166266596?accountid=13902
  5. ^ STUDIO BRIEFS. (1952, Jan 26). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166314117?accountid=13902
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (1952, Aug 21). Nugent seeks diana lynn for stage, screen deal; jeff richards in 'code 2'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166396232?accountid=13902
  7. ^ Hopper, H. (1953, Jan 15). Richards will star in 'the big leaguer'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166423461?accountid=13902
  8. ^ "Hollywood is flat NEW FACES out looking for..." The World's News (2786). New South Wales, Australia. 14 May 1955. p. 30. Retrieved 1 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ Schary, D. (1955, Jan 09). THEN IT'S UP TO THE PUBLIC. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166745201?accountid=13902
  10. ^ Schallert, E. (1954, Feb 03). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166573350?accountid=13902
  11. ^ Schallert, E. (1954, Jul 21). 'Flying finns' proposed; maxwell, cooper roles named; metro into space. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166668314?accountid=13902
  12. ^ Hopper, H. (1955, Feb 12). Comedy will costar ewell, joan caulfield. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166713091?accountid=13902
  13. ^ Schallert, E. (1956, Jan 23). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166921663?accountid=13902
  14. ^ Ames, W. (1957, Jul 16). Iron curtain to be backdrop for new hitchcock whodunit. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/167204238?accountid=13902
  15. ^ Schallert, E. (1957, Apr 25). Mexico deal attracts palance; jeff richards quits studio contract. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/167110618?accountid=13902
  16. ^ "Jefferson Drum". ctva.biz. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1957, Nov 22). Jeff richards wins termer. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/167210427?accountid=13902
  18. ^ Martin, B. (1965, Dec 27). 'Buffalo soldiers' acquired. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/155323779?accountid=13902
  19. ^ Hopper, H. (1955, Dec 18). MGM actor jeff richards weds teacher. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166863058?accountid=13902
  20. ^ New son of jeff richards in early debut. (1957, Apr 11). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/167143924?accountid=13902

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