|Born||Dickinson Swift Eastham
June 22, 1916
Opelousas, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||July 10, 2005
Pacific Palisades, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Columbarium at Oak Grove Cemetery in Bel-Nor, Missouri, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Washington University in St. Louis|
|Occupation||Film, television and stage actor|
|Spouse(s)||Betty Jean Eastham (married, 1942-2002, her death)|
Eastham appeared as newspaperman Harris Claibourne, editor of the actual Tombstone Epitaph, along with his younger co-star, Pat Conway, in the role of Sheriff Clay Hollister of the western television series Tombstone Territory. Eastham introduced and narrated each of the ninety-three episodes of the series, set in Tombstone, south of Tucson, Arizona. The program aired on ABC for its first season (1957–1958) and then syndication for its two later years, 1958-1960.
Tombstone Territory often invoked the popular line "The Town Too Tough Too Die". Among the last episodes of the series were "Juan Diega", "Crime Epidemic", "The Injury", "The Outlaw", and "The Treaty", "Betrayal", "The Return of Kansas Joe", and "The Siesta Killer". Two 1958 episodes were entitled "Geronimo" and "Johnny Ringo's Last Ride".
Early years, education, military
Eastham was born in Opelousas, Louisiana. As a student at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, Eastham performed with the St. Louis Grand Opera. He served for four years in the United States Army during World War II, part of the time in Paris, France.
Thereafter, he performed at the American Theatre Wing in New York City as an understudy of the international opera singer Ezio Pinza. Eastham appeared as plantation owner Emile DeBecque in South Pacific; his co-stars were Mary Martin and, later, Janet Blair.
Eastham performed "Bloody Mary" in the chorus of singing sailors. Eastham appeared on Broadway with Ethel Merman, who became a close friend, in Call Me Madam, a musical based on the life of presidential party-giver and Democratic hostess Perle Mesta. His first film appearance was with Merman in a non-singing role in the 20th Century Fox musical There's No Business Like Show Business.
At his wife urging, he gave up his promising singing career to concentrate on acting. Marjorie Lord, who co-starred with Danny Thomas on The Danny Thomas Show sitcom, recalled that Eastham's "voice could break your heart. If I had been married to him, he would have never dropped it." Lord and Eastham met in 1955 in San Francisco when they were performing in Anniversary Waltz and developed a long friendship.
Film and television appearances
Eastham appeared in such films as Man on Fire, a 1957 production starring Bing Crosby. He starred as Colonel Sam Castle the Ringmaster in Walt Disney's 1960 production, Toby Tyler, with child actor Kevin Corcoran in the starring role. He also appeared as Supervisor Newton in That Darn Cat!, a 1965 Disney comedy film, and in Not with My Wife, You Don't! and Murderers' Row, both in 1966.
His first television appearance was in 1948 on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town variety program. He appeared in numerous crime dramas and westerns. He guest starred four times on Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr as Deputy District Attorney Parness in two 1961 episodes and different roles on two 1965 episodes, including murderer Roland Canfield in "The Case of the Thermal Thief." He guest starred in 1957 in the series premiere of the syndicated military drama Men of Annapolis. In 1960, he appeared as Sinclair in the episode "Disaster Below" in CBS' short-lived adventure series about underwater diving, The Aquanauts, starring Keith Larsen and Jeremy Slate. In 1961, he portrayed Sam Verner in the episode "Along the Barbary Coast" of the NBC anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show. In 1962, he appeared as Don Hart in the episode "Hostage Below" of the syndicated series about skydivers, Ripcord, starring Ken Curtis and Larry Pennell.
In the early 1970s, he appeared twice on Arthur Hill's ABC legal drama Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law and on Karl Malden's The Streets of San Francisco. In 1973 he had the role of General Colton in the ABC TV film The President's Plane is Missing. In 1974, he appeared as Jack Seymour in "Killing in the Second House" on Telly Savalas's CBS series Kojak. Between 1976 and 1977, Eastham appeared a dozen times as General Phil Blankenship on the fantasy adventure series Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter. This character was based on General Phil Darnell from the DC Comics.
Later career and passing
He appeared twice on CBS's The Waltons family drama in episodes entitled "The Warrior" (as Judge Thomas Parrish, 1977) and "The Lumberjack" (as Wesley Northridge, 1981). He recreated the role of Mr. Northridge in the 1982 CBS television film "A Wedding on Walton's Mountain". Eastham appeared three times on Buddy Ebsen's CBS detective series Barnaby Jones: as R.B. Catlin in the 1975 episode, "Murder Once Removed", and in the two-part 1979 segment "Child of Love, Child of Vengeance". He appeared three times in 1979 and 1982 on Jack Klugmans NBC series Quincy M.E.
In 1982-1983, Eastham appeared as Dr. Howell on six episodes of CBS's Falcon Crest starring Jane Wyman as Angela Channing. That same year, he appeared briefly on an episode of Robert Wagner's Hart to Hart ABC drama series. His last acting role was in 1991 as Frank Hillson on CBS's long-running Dallas in episodes entitled "Designing Women" and "The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire".
Eastham was married to his wife, Betty Jean, from 1942 until her death in 2002. They had no children. Eastham died at age of eighty-nine from complications due to Alzheimer's disease at an assisted living facility in Pacific Palisades, California. His body was sent to Bel-Nor, Missouri for cremation at Oak Grove Cemetery. His urn was put into the same columbarium as his father's urn.
- There's No Business Like Show Business (1954) - Lew Harris
- Man on Fire (1957) - Bryan Seward
- Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus (1960) - Colonel Sam Castle
- That Darn Cat! (1965) - Supervisor Newton
- Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966) - General Milt Walters
- Murderers' Row (1966) - Dr. Norman Solaris
- Tom Sawyer (1973) - Doc Robinson
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) - Mutant Captain
- McQ (1974) - Walter Forrester
- "Tombstone Territory". IMDb. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- "Richard Eastham credits". IMDB. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- "Richard Eastham biography". IMDB. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
- Nelson, Valerie J. (July 23, 2005). "Richard Eastham, 89; Starred on Broadway, Acted in TV, Movies from 1950s to 1983". Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2005. Retrieved February 1, 2009.