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Richard Beymer

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Richard Beymer
Beymer in 1961
George Richard Beymer Jr.

(1938-02-20) February 20, 1938 (age 86)
  • Actor
  • painter
  • sculptor
  • novelist
Years active1949–present
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)

George Richard Beymer Jr. (born February 20, 1938)[1] is an American actor, filmmaker and artist who played the roles of Tony in the film version of West Side Story (1961), Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), and Ben Horne on the television series Twin Peaks (1990–1991, 2017).

Acting career[edit]

Child actor[edit]

Beymer acted on television in Los Angeles for three years, rehearsing after school during the week and recording it on Saturdays. The show ended when he was 13.[2]

Beymer made his feature-film debut in Vittorio De Sica's Stazione Termini (1953).[3]

He was under contract to David O. Selznick for a year.[4]

The contract with Selznick lasted for one year. Beymer was in much demand on television: Cavalcade of America (1954) and Johnny Tremain (1957). He guest starred in 26 Men, Zane Grey Theatre, Make Room for Daddy, The Gray Ghost, Navy Log, Whirlybirds, Sky King, Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, and Schlitz Playhouse.[4][2]

20th Century Fox[edit]

George Stevens cast Beymer in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), playing Peter Van Daan.

Beymer was put under contract to 20th Century Fox and started to be regarded as an exciting future star.[4] Producer William Perlberg later said "It's a thing that periodically happens out here. Somebody comes along and talk starts and agents and studios keep talking and talking. Like an avalanche, the talk gathers speed. Ultimately that 'somebody' turns out to be a big name in Hollywood only."[4]

After appearing in Playhouse 90, he had a supporting role in High Time (1960), a comedy with Bing Crosby and Tuesday Weld at 20th Century Fox. "I wanted to be a very good actor," said Beymer later. "I wanted to work and let the work stand for something."[4]

In June 1960, Beymer was cast in the lead role of Tony in West Side Story (1961), a huge hit. He shared a 1962 Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor with Bobby Darin and Warren Beatty.[5]

Beymer later said he "was miserable in West Side Story. I didn't know enough at the time because I lacked certain knowledge in acting...I came out ridiculous. I didn't stand up for what I should have and I didn't know enough. The blame should be on me."[6]

Beymer was reunited with Weld in the Fox comedy Bachelor Flat (1961). At Columbia, he played the son of Rosalind Russell and Jack Hawkins in Five Finger Exercise (1962). Beymer later said he was "terrible" in it.[7]

Beymer was given the role of Nick Adams in Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962) for Fox, with an all-star supporting cast. Producer Jerry Wald says he and director Martin Ritt agreed that Beymer was "the young actor I think stands the best chance of being the next Gary Cooper."[8] During filming, Beymer met Sharon Tate, and he encouraged her to get into acting.[9] The film was a big flop.

Beymer had a significant role in the film The Longest Day (1962), which was successful, but he was unhappy with his acting in the film.[3] "They tried to make me the nice kid next door," he said. "That's just not me. They said just play you - but I am not the all-American boy."[6]

Beymer started attending daily classes at the Actors Studio. "I just want to learn and be as professional as I can," he said.[10]

Producer Wald and director Franklin Schaffner cast Beymer in The Stripper (1963) with Joanne Woodward, which was critically acclaimed but not a big hit. Beymer returned to New York.[7] "I got sick of the whole thing and I left," he said.[6]


In 1964, Beymer became involved in Freedom Summer in Mississippi. "You get tired of being a complainer, passive," he said.[11]

He assisted Barney Frank in rescuing Freedom Democrat forms in a rental truck that had been confiscated from arrested Freedom volunteers in Canton, Mississippi on Freedom Day (July 16, 1964).[12] During this time, he filmed the award-winning documentary A Regular Bouquet: Mississippi Summer (1964), portraying the efforts of volunteers registering African-Americans to vote.[13][11]

In February 1964, he said all the films he had done except The Longest Day "should have been classroom work and never should have been shown publicly...I'm not a leading man. I'm a character actor. That is, I'm not a stereotyped leading man type. I'm kind of a schlepp at times...I don't care about billing and being a star. Being myself is the first thing."[6]

Beymer guest-starred in episodes of Kraft Suspense Theatre, The Virginian, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Dr. Kildare, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Death Valley Days.[14] He acted in The Country Girl on stage.[15]


Beymer turned to filmmaking with The Innerview (1973), which he wrote, produced, directed, and starred.[16]

He starred in, wrote and directed episodes of the television series Insight. He lived for two years in a commune and worked in Switzerland.[4]

"I never left the movies," Beymer said. "I just made different kinds of movies."[17]

Return to acting[edit]

Beymer returned to Los Angeles in 1982 to restart his career.[4]

He appeared in Cross Country (1983). He had roles in Paper Dolls (1984), playing the husband of Mimi Rogers, and Generation (1985). His television appearances at the time include Moonlighting, Dallas, The Bronx Zoo and Buck James, and co-starred in the film Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989).

Beymer was widely seen in Twin Peaks (1990–1991) playing Ben Horne. He followed it in Blackbelt (1992) and The Presence (1993).

He made three appearances on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Li Nalas in the episodes "The Homecoming", "The Circle", and "The Siege".

Beymer was seen in Under Investigation (1993), My Girl 2 (1994), State of Emergency (1994), The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson (1996), several episodes of Murder, She Wrote, A Face to Die For (1996), The Little Death (1996), Foxfire (1996), Elvis Meets Nixon (1997) and Home: the Horror Story. He was in episodes of Flipper, The X-Files, Vengeance Unlimited, Profiler, and Family Law.[18]

Beymer reprised his role as Ben Horne in the third season of Twin Peaks in 2017.[19]

In 2019, Beymer visited the set of Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story. In December 2021, Rachel Zegler, the film's star, released two photos on her Instagram page: One of Beymer sitting next to Spielberg; another of Beymer hugging Zegler while screenwriter Tony Kushner looked on. According to Zegler, Beymer said "Te adoro María" to her "over and over again" as they embraced.[20]


In the early 2000s, Beymer was making documentaries. One titled Whatever Happened to Richard Beymer?, which chronicled his obsession with photography throughout his life, was screened at the 2002 Twin Peaks Festival in Seattle.[21]

He was in Sadie's Waltz (2008), then focused on directing documentaries: The Passing of a Saint (2010), It's a Beautiful World (2014), Richard Beymer's Before...the Big Bang (2016), I Had Bad Milk in Dehradun (2017), and Behind the Red Curtain (2017).[22]

The avant-garde film The Innerview, which he directed, produced, wrote the screenplay, and edited, won the Josef von Sternberg Award at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival in 1974. His 2010 film The Passing of a Saint chronicles the funeral rites of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.[23] In April 2014, It's a Beautiful World, his film of a trip to India with David Lynch, was released.[24]


In 2007 Beymer completed Impostor: Or Whatever Happened to Richard Beymer?, his first book, a self-published novel and a semi-autobiographical account of a young actor's struggle to find himself.[25]

As visual artist[edit]

Beymer's photographs of Twin Peaks cast and crew were featured in the gallery of behind the scenes photos on the Definitive Gold Box Edition for Twin Peaks, released on October 30, 2007. He is also a painter and sculptor.[23]

Personal life[edit]

As of 2010, Beymer resided in Fairfield, Iowa, where he continued to make films and to write, sculpt, and paint.[23] He practices Transcendental Meditation, to "cool out".[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1951 Fourteen Hours uncredited
1953 Terminal Station Paul Stevens
1953 So Big Roelf (Age 12–16)
1957 Johnny Tremain Rab Silsbee
1959 The Diary of Anne Frank Peter Van Daan
1960 High Time Bob Bannerman
1961 West Side Story Tony nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1961 Bachelor Flat Mike Pulaski
1962 Five Finger Exercise Philip Harrington
1962 Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man Nick Adams
1962 The Longest Day Pvt. Dutch Schultz
1963 The Stripper Kenny Baird
1964 A Regular Bouquet: Mississippi Summer documentary short; director and writer
1969 Scream Free! Dean
1973 The Innerview also director, writer, producer, editor and cinematographer
1983 Cross Country Evan Bley
1989 Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! Dr. Newbury direct-to-video
1992 Blackbelt Eddie Deangelo
1993 Under Investigation Dr. Jerry Parsons
1994 My Girl 2 Peter Webb
1996 The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson Chad Leary
1996 Foxfire Mr. Parks
1998 Playing Patti
2000 Home the Horror Story Bob Parkinson
2002 Whatever Happened to Richard Beymer? documentary; director, editor and cinematographer
2008 Sadie's Waltz Garvus short film
2010 The Passing of a Saint documentary; director, editor and cinematographer
2014 It's a Beautiful World Documentary; director, editor and cinematographer
2016 Richard Beymer's Before the Big Bang documentary; director, editor and cinematographer
2017 I Had Bad Milk in Dehradun documentary short; director, editor and cinematographer
2017 Behind the Red Curtain documentary short; director, editor and cinematographer


Year Title Role Notes
1954 Cavalcade of America episode: "Gentle Conqueror"
1956–1957 Make Room for Daddy The Boyfriend / Freddie Baxter 2 episodes
1957 The Gray Ghost Luke Burnette episode: "An Eye for an Eye"
1957 26 Men Tod Devers episode: "Dead Man in Tucson"
1957 Zane Grey Theatre Shep Jolland episode: "The Bitter Land"
1958 Navy Log Ennis Thompson episode: "The Soapbox Kid"
1958 Whirlybirds John Thompson episode: "The Brothers"
1958 Sky King Joe Belden episode: "Man Hunt"
1958 Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre Mark episode: "On the Brink"
1958, 1968 Death Valley Days John Owens / Zeb Fallon 2 episodes
1959 Schlitz Playhouse episode: "On the Brink"
1959 Playhouse 90 LeRoy Cadman episode: "Dark December"
1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre Werner Schiff episode: "The East Breach"
1965 The Virginian Mark Shannon / Frank Colter 2 episodes
1966 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Ralph Belmonte episode: "Guilty or Not Guilty"
1966 Dr. Kildare Reverend Jack Elder 3 episodes
1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Harry Williams episode: "The Survival School Affair"
1975, 1980 Insight Train Conductor / Josh / God 3 episodes
1981 The Girl on the Edge of Town television film; cinematographer
1982 The Juggler of Notre Dame television film; cinematographer
1984 Paper Dolls David Fenton 13 episodes
1985 Generation Allan Breed television film
1986 Moonlighting Ray Adamson episode: "All Creatures Great...and Not So Great"
1987, 1991,
1993, 1996
Murder, She Wrote Various roles 6 episodes
1987–1988 Buck James Max 2 episodes
1987 Dallas Jeff Larkin episode: "Bedtime Stories"
1988 The Bronx Zoo Mr. Locke episode: "The Gospel Truth"
1990–1991 Twin Peaks Benjamin Horne 30 episodes
1992 Danger Island Ben television film
1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Li Nalas 3 episodes
1994 State of Emergency Dr. Ronald Frames television film
1996 A Face to Die For Dr. Matthew Sheridan television film
1996 Flipper Andrew Cantrell episode: "Sharks"
1996 The X-Files Dr. Jack Franklin episode: "Sanguinarium"
1997 Elvis Meets Nixon Bob Haldeman television film
1998 Vengeance Unlimited Douglas Bradford episode: "Noir"
1999 Profiler Martin Fizer episode: "Ceremony of Innocence"
2001 Family Law Richard Collins episode: "Against All Odds"
2017 Twin Peaks Benjamin Horne 6 episodes


  1. ^ John Willis' Screen World. Crown Publishers. 1981. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-517-54482-2.
  2. ^ a b Hopper, Hedda (August 21, 1960). "The DICK BEYMER STORY: He Thanks Bing Crosby for His First Big Break, but He Won a Starring Role in 'West Side Story' Thru His Own Talent". Chicago Tribune. p. B26.
  3. ^ a b Brennan, Sandra (2014). "Full Biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Rosenfield, Paul (December 26, 1982). "MOVIES: Richard Beymer Never Was 'The Soft Young Man'". Los Angeles Times. p. M27.
  5. ^ "Beymer Gets Film Role". The New York Times. June 8, 1960. p. 45.
  6. ^ a b c d Alpert, Don (February 23, 1964). "Actors 'Come Out Ridiculous' in Films; Richard Beymer Tells Why". Los Angeles Times. p. C4.
  7. ^ a b Bart, Peter (September 9, 1964). "A YOUNG EX-ACTOR RETURNS TO FILMS: Richard Beymer Writes and Produces Documentary". The New York Times. p. 48. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Parsons, Louella (August 2, 1961). "Ernest Hemingway's 'young man' film to honor Gary Cooper". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Thomas, Kevin (January 18, 1966). "Miss Tate: Old, New Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. p. C11.
  10. ^ "Richard Beymer Is Daily Student at Actors' Studio". Los Angeles Times. March 22, 1963. p. D12.
  11. ^ a b Seidenbaum, Art (October 5, 1964). "Richard Beymer's South Side Story". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  12. ^ Watson, Bruce (2010). Freedom Summer. New York: Penguin. p. 328. ISBN 978-1-101-19018-0.
  13. ^ Profile, University of Southern Mississippi Libraries; accessed June 28, 2014. Archived May 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Katherine Crawford in Suspense Segment". Los Angeles Times. March 11, 1965. p. D9.
  15. ^ Smith, Cecil (October 17, 1966). "2 Revivals Do Little to Inspire". Los Angeles Times. p. C25.
  16. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 29, 1973). "MOVIE REVIEW: Beymer Goes Avant-Garde". Los Angeles Times. p. H16.
  17. ^ Wheelock, Julie (April 6, 1990). "Twin Peaks' Stars Tamblyn, Beymer Share Twin Experience: Television: Actors at work on ABC series share a common bond...their roles in 'West Side Story' almost 30 years ago". Los Angeles Times. p. F23.
  18. ^ "Beymer's Career Karma He Used a Knife for Ill in West Side, for Good in 'A Face to Die For'". Los Angeles Daily News. March 10, 1996. p. L3.
  19. ^ Munson, Kyle (October 13, 2014). "Richard Beymer another 'Twin Peaks' angle in Fairfield". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  20. ^ "Rachel zegler on Instagram: "we made a movie. It's out tonight. I loved living in this beautiful environment in the summer of 2019, and i have loved revisiting it through the lens of my dear friend and director steven spielberg. Our film is so special— it's one for the ages. So, for context— (1) on our last day on set, steven directs the balcony scene. (2) steven converses with richard beymer, the original tony from the 1961 film. (3) laughing my head off during i feel pretty with my favorite woman on the planet, miss jeanine tesori. (4) hugging richard beymer as he says "te adoro maría" to me over and over again, while our brilliant tony kushner watches on. (5) a loving sister moment with my sweet ariana debose, our anita for the modern age, yet timeless as ever. (6) hugging my beautiful josh andrés rivera on his last day of shooting, which didn't end up being his last day of shooting. He just kept coming back to set. I'm so glad he did. West side story is only in theaters 12/10/2021. Please consider seeing it with those you love most. It's the missing piece. Xo - r."".
  21. ^ "Lynch Movie Night History". Twin Peaks Festival.
  22. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (June 22, 2014). "Right Out of Hollywood, A Witness to History". The New York Times. p. AR10.
  23. ^ a b c Moore, James (March 2010). "Richard Beymer's Tribute to Maharishi – The Passing of a Saint". The Iowa Source. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Richard Beymer talks "It's a Beautiful World" and more". Brad D Studios. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014. There is a TM center here in Fairfield, Iowa, so I would come here for two or three weeks and cool out.
  25. ^ Beymer, Richard (2007). Impostor: Or Whatever Happened to Richard Beymer?. Richard Beymer. ISBN 978-0615175515. Retrieved April 21, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914–1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 18.

External links[edit]