Rick Jason

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Rick Jason
Rick Jason - actor.jpg
Born
Richard Jacobson

(1923-05-21)May 21, 1923
DiedOctober 16, 2000(2000-10-16) (aged 77)
Cause of deathSuicide by gunshot
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
Alma materAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1950–1989
Spouse(s)
Aria Allen
(m. 1950; div. 1962)

Shirley Johnston
(m. 1962; div. 1962)

Jutta Parr
(m. 1962; div. 1964)

Pat Nelson
(m. 1968; div. 1970)

Cindy Jason
(m. 1983)
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch U.S. Army Air Forces
Years of service1943–1945
RankPrivate
Battles/warsWorld War II

Rick Jason (born Richard Jacobson; May 21, 1923 – October 16, 2000) was an American actor, born in New York City, and most remembered for starring in the ABC television drama Combat! (1962–1967).

Childhood[edit]

An only child of Jewish parents, Jason was expelled from several prep schools[1] before graduating from Rhodes Preparatory School in Manhattan.

Military service[edit]

Rick Jason served from 1943 to 1945 in the U.S. Army Air Corps, during World War II.[2] In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he visited American troops serving in Vietnam on several USO tours.[3]

Acting career[edit]

Rick Jason and Luise Rainer in Combat! (1965)
Rick Jason and Vic Morrow in Combat! (1962)

After the War, Jason attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts on the G.I. Bill, as well as holding a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. While in attendance at a New York City play, he was spotted by Hume Cronyn, who then cast him in Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The role earned Jason a Theater World Award and a Hollywood contract with Columbia Pictures. Later, MGM was searching for an actor to replace Fernando Lamas in the 1953 movie Sombrero and gave the role to Jason, who was earlier released from Columbia Pictures. This led to Jason being cast in The Saracen Blade (1954) and This Is My Love (1954).[4]

Fox signed him for the male lead role in The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (1956) and later signed for a multi-picture contract. His first project was an adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus (1957) with Jayne Mansfield and Joan Collins, which earned him critical acclaim. A string of good performances, both in films and on television, then followed. In 1956, Jason played the lead in The Fountain of Youth, a half-hour unsold pilot written and directed by Orson Welles which won the Peabody Award in 1958.

Soon after, Jason received offers for television series. He guest-starred on ABC's anthology series, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse. In 1954, he played Joaquin Murietta, the notorious Mexican bandit of the California Gold Rush, in an episode of Jim Davis's syndicated western series Stories of the Century, the story of a railroad detective investigating crime in the American West. He appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood, in the Rawhide episodes "Incident of the Coyote Weed" and "Incident of the Valley in Shadow", and co-starred in 1969 in The Monk.

In 1960, he starred as insurance investigator Robin Scott in The Case of the Dangerous Robin, a syndicated American television series that lasted only one season. It was not renewed due to Jason's health issues, including back problems. In 1962, he began starring in the television series Combat! as Platoon Leader 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley, probably his most memorable role. In this series he shared the starring role in an alternating episode rotation, with Vic Morrow as Sgt. Chip Saunders, though in many episodes they both appeared. The show was a hit that lasted for 152 episodes in five seasons.

After Combat!, Rick returned to stage acting. He made films in Japan and Israel, as well as films such as Color Me Dead (1969), The Day of the Wolves (1971), The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), Love and the Midnight Auto Supply (1977), Partners (1982) and Illegally Yours (1988). In 1970, he took the lead in the pilot for Prudence and the Chief. His TV career went well in the 1970s and 1980s, when he appeared in shows like Matt Houston, Police Woman, Murder, She Wrote, Moonlighting, Wonder Woman, Fantasy Island, Airwolf and Dallas. He also played Cornelius Vanderbilt in the 1989 miniseries Around the World in 80 Days. In 1973, he was a frequent character on The Young and the Restless.[5] He was also a favorite voice for TV commercial narration in the 1960s.

Retirement[edit]

After retiring from screen appearances, Jason kept busy by doing voice-overs for commercials and wrote his autobiography, Scrapbooks of My Mind. In 2000, he attended a Combat! reunion in Las Vegas with fellow cast members.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In his personal life, Jason enjoyed playing guitar, painting, sculpting, collecting wines, flying, hunting, photography, and breeding tropical fish.[5][6]

In addition to being a talented actor, Jason was fluent in several languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese.[6]

According to the Find A Grave website, Jason was married five times, "including once to Miss Germany, Uta Jutta, and his fifth wife, Cindy, was the longest, from 1983 to his death in 2000."[6]

On July 29, 2000, an autobiography (paperback) of Rick Jason, authored by Rick Jason, was published, titled Scrapbooks of My Mind : A Hollywood Autobiography. The book describes Jason growing up in New York during the Great Depression. Jason shares behind-the-scenes stories of his film and tv career.[7] The book was pulled from publication after his death in October 2000. An online version of the book exists on the web.

Death[edit]

Jason died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound one week after the Combat! reunion, on October 16, 2000, in Moorpark, California, where he lived. He left no note. Authorities said the actor was "despondent" over "unspecified personal matters."[2]

His body was cremated and interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California in the Cathedral Mausoleum.[6]

Legacy[edit]

Concerning Combat!, pop culture scholar Gene Santoro has written:

TV's longest-running World War II drama (1962–1967) was really a collection of complex 50-minute movies. Salted with battle sequences, they follow a squad's travails from D-Day on – a gritty ground-eye view of men trying to salvage their humanity and survive. Melodrama, comedy, and satire come into play as top-billed Lieutenant Hanley (Rick Jason) and Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow) lead their men toward Paris ...[8]

Producer Steve Rubin wrote a tribute to Jason published in the Los Angeles Times on October 20, 2000:

The baby boomer generation lost one of its heroes on Monday — Rick Jason is gone. He was better known as Lieutenant Hanley on the long-running 1960’s World War II series, "Combat!" As they often say in Hollywood war films, we lost us a good man. Jason was not only a wonderful human being, a devoted husband, and a fine actor, he was one of our best storytellers with links to the "Golden Age" of Hollywood.[9]

Rubin concluded:

For we boomers, Rick Jason helped illuminate the legacy of World War II to those of us too young to experience or remember it. He brought dignity to the image of the fighting man at a time when Vietnam was moving us in the other direction. Over those five years of episodes, he brought home every week the sense of fear, sacrifice and the great love soldiers have for each other. Jason and the squad were our touchstones to the dynamic era of the 1940s when America won the war.[10]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1953 Sombrero Ruben
1954 The Saracen Blade Enzio Siniscola
1954 This Is My Love Glenn Harris
1956 The Lieutenant Wore Skirts Capt. Barney Sloan
1957 The Wayward Bus Johnny Chicoy
1958 Rx Murder Jethro Jones
1958 Sierra Baron Miguel Delmonte
1968 Teppô denraiki Capt. Pinto
1969 Color Me Dead Bradley Taylor
1970 Ha-Pritza Hagdola Beno
1971 The Day of the Wolves No. 4
1974 A Time for Love
1976 The Witch Who Came from the Sea Billy Batt
1977 Love and the Midnight Auto Supply Councilman Ted Fredricks
1977 Ningen no shômei Lionel Adams
1982 Partners Douglas
1983 Shôsetsu Yoshida gakko General Douglas MacArthur
1988 Illegally Yours Freddie Boneflecker

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jason (2000), "Bored in School"
  2. ^ a b c Variety (2000)
  3. ^ Jason (2000), "Pat Calls It Quits and I Go To Nam"
  4. ^ Jason (2000) "The Saracen Blade at Columbia Pictures"
  5. ^ a b Los Angeles Times
  6. ^ a b c d Find A Grave
  7. ^ Scrapbooks of My Mind (July 29, 2000)
  8. ^ Santoro, Gene (March–April 2011). "Infantrymen on the Small Screen". World War II. Leesburg, Virginia: Weider History Group. 25 (6): 69. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  9. ^ Steve Rubins (October 20, 2000)
  10. ^ Steve Rubin (October 20, 2000)

References[edit]

External links[edit]