Richard Deacon (actor)
May 14, 1921|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 8, 1984
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cardiovascular disease|
|Alma mater||Bennington College|
|Occupation||Film and television actor|
This tall, bald and usually bespectacled character actor often portrayed pompous, prissy, and/or imperious figures. He made appearances on The Jack Benny Program as a salesman and a barber, and on NBC's Happy as a hotel manager. He had a brief role in Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds (1963) as Mitch's (Rod Taylor) neighbor who advises Melanie (Tippi Hedren) that Mitch has gone to Bodega Bay for the weekend. He played a larger role in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), as a physician in the "book-end" sequences added to the beginning and end of this film after its original previews.
In Billy Wilder's 1957 film adaptation of Charles Lindbergh’s The Spirit of St. Louis, Deacon portrayed the chairman of the Columbia Aircraft Corp, Charles A. Levine, who, in February 1927, refused to sell Lindbergh his company's recently acquired Bellanca monoplane for Lindbergh’s trans-atlantic flight unless his company could choose the pilot.
His best-known roles are milksop Mel Cooley (Producer of "The Alan Brady Show") on CBS's The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966) and Fred Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963), although Deacon played Mr. Baxter in the 1957 Beaver pilot episode "It's a Small World". He co-starred as Tallulah Bankhead's butler in a classic episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour called "The Celebrity Next Door". Deacon played Roger Buell on the second season of TV's The Mothers-in-Law (1967–1969), having replaced Roger C. Carmel in the role. He played "Principal 'Jazz-Bow' Conroy" in The Danny Thomas Show (1958). He also appeared in the 1960 Perry Mason episode The Case of the Red Riding Boots as Wilmer Beaslee.
In Carousel (1956), the film adaptation of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein stage musical, Deacon had a bit role as the policeman who admonishes Shirley Jones (Julie) and John Dehner (Mr. Bascombe) about Gordon MacRae (Billy Bigelow) in the famous "bench scene". It was one of the few films in which he did not wear glasses, as were his roles in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), and the 1954 costumer Désirée, where he played Jean Simmons' elder brother, an 18th-century Marseilles silk merchant. Philadelphia-native Deacon played the role of Morton Stearnes' butler, George Archibald, whose courtroom testimony is a turning point in The Young Philadelphians (1959), starring Paul Newman. He played an imbibing Justice of the Peace, Reverend Zaron, in the classic 1957 Budd Boetticher-directed western Decision at Sundown.
Deacon appeared in many sitcoms, including It's a Great Life, The People's Choice, How to Marry a Millionaire, Guestward, Ho!, Pete and Gladys, The Donna Reed Show, The Real McCoys (in the episode "The Tax Man Cometh", he clashes with series star Walter Brennan as Grandpa Amos McCoy over property tax assessments in the San Fernando Valley), Get Smart, Bonanza (a deceitful character who cheats the Cartwrights during their visit to San Francisco), and The Rifleman (episode "The Hangman", in an uncredited role). In episode 5 of the first 1964 season of The Munsters, "Pike's Pique", he plays a Water District Commissioner, Mr. Pike, buying the underground right to lay pipe. In The Addams Family, he administers Cousin Itt a battery of psychological tests in the May 1965 episode "Cousin Itt and the Vocational Counselor". In 1966, he appeared on Phyllis Diller's short-lived television sitcom, The Pruitts of Southampton. He also guest starred in the NBC family drama National Velvet, and in the ABC/Warner Brothers crime drama Bourbon Street Beat, and played Mr. Whipple on The Twilight Zone in the 1964 episode "The Brain Center at Whipple's". In 1967, Deacon played Ralph Yarby, director of security for lumber baron D.J. Mulrooney, in Disney's The Gnome-Mobile. In 1968, he played Dean Wheaton in the Walt Disney film Blackbeard's Ghost.
In 1984, Deacon had a cameo role in the teen comedy film Bad Manners (also known as Growing Pains).
A lifelong bachelor, Richard Deacon was a closeted gay man, whose secrecy enabled him to work for companies like Disney and other family-friendly studios. Deacon was a gourmet chef. In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a series of cookbooks and hosted a Canadian television series on microwave cooking.
Deacon died from cardiovascular disease in 1984, aged 63. His remains were cremated.
- Invaders from Mars (1953) as MP (uncredited)
- Them! (1954) as Bald Reporter at L.A. News Conference (uncredited)
- Shield for Murder (1954) as The Professor (uncredited)
- Private Hell 36 (1954) as Mr. Mace (uncredited)
- Rogue Cop (1954) as Stacey (uncredited)
- Désirée (1954) as Etienne Clary (uncredited)
- Cry Vengeance (1954) as 'Shiny' Sam - Bartender (uncredited)
- Prince of Players (1955) as Theatre Manager (uncredited)
- Blackboard Jungle (1955) as Mr. Stanley (uncredited)
- This Island Earth (1955) as Pilot (uncredited)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) as Semu
- Lay That Rifle Down (1955) as Glover Speckleton
- My Sister Eileen (1955) as Baker's Receptionist (uncredited)
- The Kettles in the Ozarks (1955) as Big Trout (uncredited)
- Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955) as Mr. Spivvy (uncredited)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) as Dr. Harvey Bassett (uncredited)
- Carousel (1956) as First Policeman (uncredited)
- Hot Blood (1956) as Mr. Swift (uncredited)
- When Gangland Strikes (1956) as Dixon Brackett, Prosecuting Attorney (uncredited)
- The Scarlet Hour (1956) as Mr. Elman, Jeweller (uncredited)
- The Proud Ones (1956) as Barber (uncredited)
- Francis in the Haunted House (1956) as Jason
- The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956) as Williams - McKeever's Assistant (uncredited)
- The Power and the Prize (1956) as Howard Carruthers
- Affair in Reno (1956) as H.L. Denham - Attorney
- Spring Reunion (1957) as Sidney (uncredited)
- The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) as Charles Levine, President Columbia Aircraft Co. (uncredited)
- Designing Woman (1957) as Larry Musso (uncredited)
- My Man Godfrey (1957) as Farnsworth
- Decision at Sundown (1957) as Reverend Zaron
- Kiss Them for Me (1957) as Bill Hotchkiss (uncredited)
- The High Cost of Loving (1958) as Obstetrician (uncredited)
- The Last Hurrah (1958) as Graves (uncredited)
- A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed (1958) as Milburn Schroeder
- The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1958) as Sheriff
- The Young Philadelphians (1959) as George Archibald
- It Started with a Kiss (1959) as Capt. Porter (uncredited)
- The Man Who Understood Women (1959) as Rossi (uncredited)
- A Summer Place (1959) as Pawnbroker (uncredited)
- -30- (1959) as Chapman
- North to Alaska (1960) as Angus - Hotel Desk Clerk (uncredited)
- All in a Night's Work (1961) as Fur Salesman (uncredited)
- Everything's Ducky (1961) as Dr. Deckham
- Lover Come Back (1961) as Dr. Melnick (uncredited)
- That Touch of Mink (1962) as Mr. Miller (uncredited)
- The Birds (1963) as Mitch's City Neighbor
- Critic's Choice (1963) as Harvey Rittenhouse
- Who's Minding the Store? (1963) as Tie Salesman
- The Raiders (1963) as Commissioner Mailer
- The Patsy (1964) as Sy Devore
- Dear Heart (1964) as Mr. Cruikshank
- The Disorderly Orderly (1964) as Secondary Supporting Role (uncredited)
- John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965) as Secretary of Defense Charles Maginot
- Billie (1965) as Principal Arnold Wilson
- That Darn Cat (1965) as Drive-in-Mgr.
- Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966) as Mr. Travis / Police Chief
- Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (1966) as Survival Manual Narrator (uncredited)
- Enter Laughing (1967) as Pike
- The Gnome-Mobile (1967) as Ralph Yarby
- The King's Pirate (1967) as Swaine
- Blackbeard's Ghost (1968) as Dean Wheaton
- The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968) as Charlie Wrenn
- Lady in Cement (1968) as Arnie Sherwin
- Persecución hasta Valencia (1968) as Records clerk
- The Man from Clover Grove (1975) as Charlie Strange
- Rabbit Test (1978) as First Newscaster
- Getting Married (1978) as Wedding Director
- Piranha (1978) as Earl Lyon
- The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980) as Joseph Rottman
- Murder Can Hurt You (1980) as Mr. Burnice
- Still the Beaver (1983) as Fred Rutherford
- Growing Pains (1984) as Ticket Salesman
- "Richard Deacon Dead at 62;A Comic Film and TV Actor". The New York Times. NYTimes.com. 11 August 1984. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
- The Spirit of St. Louis (book), 1993 Minnesota Historical Society Press, pp 71–76
- Leave It to Beaver (1957 TV series), episode: "It's a Small World" at IMDb
- The Addams Family TV series, episode: "Cousin Itt and the Vocational Counselor" at IMDb
- Diller, Phyllis; Buskin, Richard (2005). Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy. New York: The Penguin Group. p. 211. ISBN 1-58542-396-3.
- Webb, Clifton and David L. Smith (2011). Sitting Pretty: The Life and Times of Clifton Webb. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 219. ISBN 978-1604739961. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
- Griffin, Sean (2000). Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out. New York: NYU Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0814731239. Retrieved 3 April 2017.