||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2013)|
May 21, 1923
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||October 16, 2000
Moorpark, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Aria Allen (1950-1962; divorced)
Shirley Johnston (1962-1962; divorced)
Jutta Parr (1962-1964; divorced)
Cindy Jason (1983-2000; his death)
Rick Jason (May 21, 1923 – October 16, 2000), born Richard Jacobson, was an American actor, born in New York City, and most remembered for his role as 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley in the ABC television drama Combat! (1962–1967).
Jason served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II from 1943 to 1945. He also visited American troops serving in Vietnam on several USO tours in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
After the War, he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts on the G.I. Bill, and held a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. While in attendance at a New York 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 movie Sombrero and gave the role to Jason, who was earlier released from Columbia Pictures. The film was a success and led to Jason being cast in The Saracen Blade and This Is My Love.[when?]
Fox signed him for the male lead role in The Lieutenant Wore Skirts and later signed for a multi-picture contract. His first project was an adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus 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. Decades later, at the Paley Center for Media, Jason would participate in a panel discussion of what it was like to work with Welles.
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. In 1960, he starred as insurance investigator Robin Scott in The Case of the Dangerous Robin. 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 1962, he starred as Platoon Leader 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley on the series Combat!, probably his most memorable role. The show also starred Vic Morrow as Sgt. Chip Saunders and Conlan Carter as Doc. It lasted for five seasons and 152 episodes.
After Combat!, Rick returned to stage acting. He made films in Japan and Israel. 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. In 1973, he was a frequent character on The Young and the Restless.
Jason kept busy by doing voice-overs for commercials and wrote an autobiography called Scrapbooks of My Mind, published as an online website. The account reprises a variety of career mistakes. In 2000, Jason attended a Combat! reunion in Las Vegas with fellow cast members.
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, but authorities said the actor was despondent over unspecified personal matters.