Richard Long (actor)
Long in 1970
December 17, 1927|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 21, 1974
Los Angeles, California
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
(1954–1955; her death)
(1957–1974; his death)
Valerie (b. 1958)
Gregory (b. 1960)
|Years of service||1950–1952|
|Rank||Private first class|
|Battles/wars||Korean War, Cold War|
Richard Long (December 17, 1927 – December 21, 1974) was an American actor best known for his leading roles in three ABC television series, including The Big Valley, Nanny and the Professor, and Bourbon Street Beat. He was also a series regular on ABC's 77 Sunset Strip from 1960 to 1962.
Long was the fifth of six children born in Chicago, Illinois, to Sherman D. Long, a commercial artist who operated his own studio, and Dale McCord Long. The family settled in Evanston, where Long attended grammar school. He attended Waller High School in Chicago and Evanston Township High School. The family relocated again in 1944, to Hollywood, California, and Long attended Hollywood High School for his senior year. Long said that as a teenager he had "no intention of becoming an actor. I took senior drama class because it was a snap course, and I needed the credit for my English requirement."
At Hollywood High School, Long caught the eye of a talent scout from Universal-International by accident. Casting director Jack Murton gave a ride to a couple of students and asked them if a school play was scheduled. The boys told Murton about the excellent male lead actor, Richard Long.
In 1946, Long was cast in his first film, Tomorrow Is Forever as Drew, the son of Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles. The role had been unfilled for months, and producers selected Long who most closely matched the credentials required.
Early in his career, Long appeared in several films as a juvenile lead, including the first four of the nine Ma and Pa Kettle pictures. He was cast as Tom Kettle, the eldest son of the characters played by Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main. His second film was the Orson Welles film The Stranger as Noah Longstreet, the brother of Loretta Young's character. He also played "Jeff Taylor" in The Life of Riley and played "Frank James" in the 1950 movie Kansas Raiders. In 1956, Long played a leading role in the western "Fury at Gunsight Pass" (1956).
He moved into leading man status in horror movies such as Cult of the Cobra (1954) and House on Haunted Hill (1959). In 1963, Long was cast in the MGM romantic musical Follow the Boys, along with co-stars Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss, and Roger Perry.
Long achieved considerable success on television, including the Warner Brothers detective series set in New Orleans, Bourbon Street Beat (1959–1960), with Andrew Duggan, Van Williams, and Arlene Howell.
He appeared on episodes of Hey, Jeannie!, The Twilight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Tenderfoot (1964) for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. He played the recurring villainous role of gambler/con artist "Gentleman Jack Darby" in four episodes of the ABC/WB western series, Maverick beginning in 1958, including the most remembered "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" installment. His character appeared only with Jack Kelly, never with other cast members James Garner and Roger Moore. Gentleman Jack Darby was created by Maverick producer Roy Huggins as a replacement for "Dandy Jim Buckley," played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., after Zimbalist had moved on from Maverick to his own series, 77 Sunset Strip.
Five months before he was cast in Bourbon Street Beat, Long appeared as U.S. Army Captain Clayton Raymond in the episode "The Vultures" (April 26, 1959) in another ABC/WB series, Sugarfoot, with Will Hutchins in the title role. Raymond faces court martial for desertion at a western fort prior to a deadly Indian attack. Fledgling lawyer Sugarfoot defends Raymond, who refuses to explain the incident in question, which also involves Isabel Starkey (Faith Domergue), the wife of the fort commander, Colonel Starkey (Alan Marshal). Philip Ober is cast as General Humphrey, who is determined to find the truth of the matter.
In 1963, Long guest starred in the episode "Hear No Evil" of ABC's Going My Way, a drama series starring Gene Kelly about a Catholic priest in New York City loosely based on the 1944 Bing Crosby movie. That same year, he was cast as Eddie Breech in the episode "Blood Bargain" of CBS's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1965, at the age of thirty-eight, Long began his role as attorney Jarrod Barkley, the oldest son to rancher Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck), in 112 episodes of The Big Valley, the last of the major Four Star Television series, a Western which ran on ABC from 1965–1969. The series was set in the 1870s. Long also directed several episodes of The Big Valley. In 1953, Long had costarred with Stanwyck in the film All I Desire.
In 1970–71, he and Juliet Mills starred in the ABC sitcom Nanny and the Professor. In 1973 he starred alongside Julie Harris in the short-lived series, Thicker than Water. He finished a television movie called Death Cruise, which would be his last work before his death at age 47.
Long served in the U.S. Army for two years during the Korean War, where he was posted to Fort Ord, California, alongside actors Martin Milner, David Janssen, and Clint Eastwood. He was also stationed in Tokyo, Japan.
Long was twice married: his first wife, singer and actress Suzan Ball, who he had married fourteen months earlier, died of cancer in 1955, at age 21. They had met in 1953, after her cancer diagnosis; her right leg was amputated in early 1954 and they wed in April.
In 1957, he married actress/model Mara Corday in Las Vegas, with whom he had three children: Carey (1957–2008), Valerie (b. 1958), and Gregory (b. 1960). Long was a brother-in-law of actor Marshall Thompson, with whom he appeared in the 1955 film, Cult of the Cobra.
Long had cardiac problems throughout his adult life, and had suffered a heart attack in the late 1950s. As a boy, he had suffered pneumonia, which apparently weakened his heart. He was also a heavy smoker and drinker. After suffering several heart attacks, he was hospitalized for his last month and died on December 21, 1974, at Tarzana Medical Center in Los Angeles, just four days after his 47th birthday. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
The Life of Riley (1947)
- The Stranger (1946)
- Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
- The Dark Mirror (1946)
- The Egg and I (1947)
- Ma and Pa Kettle (1949)
- Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1950)
- Kansas Raiders (1950)
- All I Desire (1953)
- Saskatchewan (1954)
- Cult of the Cobra (1955)
- He Laughed Last (1956)
- Fury at Gunsight Pass (1956)
- House on Haunted Hill (1959)
- Follow the Boys (1963)
- Make Like a Thief (1964)
- The Girl Who Came Gift-Wrapped (1974)
- Death Cruise (1974)
- "Richard Long, TV actor, dies". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Florida. Associated Press. December 22, 1974. p. 10B.
- "Actor Richard Long, TV private eye, dies". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. UPI. December 23, 1974. p. 10A.
- Finningan, Joseph (June 8, 1961). "Richard Long quits role as sleuth in 'Sunset Strip'". Schenectady Gazette. New York. UPI. p. 35.
- Video on YouTube
- Richard Long official tribute page Archived September 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Brian's Drive-In Theater; accessed March 10, 2014.
- Thomas, Bob (July 25, 1959). "Richard Long gets starring role in television series". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. p. 8.
- ""The Vultures", April 26, 1959". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- Biodata, fifties.web; accessed March 10, 2014.
- Nanny and the Professor website; accessed March 10, 2014.
- Richard Long profile at TV.com
- Thomas, Bob (January 2, 1953). "Actor Richard Long back from two-year Army hitch". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvana. Associated Press. p. 12.
- "Suzan Ball throws away crutches for marriage". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. April 12, 1954. p. 2.
- "Suzan Ball wed without her crutches". Florence Times. Alabama. Associated Press. April 12, 1954. p. 12.
- "Suzan Ball dies of lung cancer". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. August 6, 1955. p. 1.
- "Death takes Carmen Miranda, Suzan Ball". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. August 6, 1955. p. 9.
- "Actress Suzan Ball waging new war against cancer". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. July 14, 1955. p. 3, part 1.
- "Mara Corday becomes bride of Dick Long". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. January 28, 1957. p. 19.
- "Actor Richard Long is sued for divorce". Tuscaloosa News. Alabama. Associated Press. June 9, 1960. p. 7.
- "Dick Long easy going on and off television". Schenectady Gazette. New York. UPI. August 21, 1971. p. 16, TV section.
- "TV star Richard Long fights heart ailment". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. April 26, 1961. p. 17.