Richard Deacon (actor)

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Richard Deacon
Richard Deacon in 1962.jpg
Deacon as Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Born(1921-05-14)May 14, 1921
DiedAugust 8, 1984(1984-08-08) (aged 63) [1]
Alma mater Bennington College
OccupationFilm and television actor
Years active1953–1984
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)

Richard Deacon (May 14, 1921 – August 8, 1984) was an American television and motion picture actor, [2] best known for playing supporting roles in television shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show , [3] Leave It To Beaver , [4] and The Jack Benny Program [5] along with minor roles in films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) [6] and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds . [7]

<i>The Dick Van Dyke Show</i> television program

The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom that initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961 to June 1, 1966, with a total of 158 half-hour episodes spanning five seasons. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and Mary Tyler Moore. It centered on the work and home life of television comedy writer Rob Petrie. The show was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. The music for the show's theme song was written by Earle Hagen.

<i>The Jack Benny Program</i> radio-TV comedy series

The Jack Benny Program, starring Jack Benny, is a radio-TV comedy series that ran for more than three decades and is generally regarded as a high-water mark in 20th-century American comedy.

<i>Invasion of the Body Snatchers</i> 1956 US science fiction film directed by Don Siegel

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American science fiction horror film produced by Walter Wanger, directed by Don Siegel, that stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The black-and-white film, shot in Superscope, was partially done in a film noir style. Daniel Mainwaring adapted the screenplay from Jack Finney's 1954 science fiction novel The Body Snatchers. The film was released by Allied Artists Pictures as a double feature with the British science fiction film The Atomic Man



Deacon often portrayed pompous, prissy, and/or imperious figures in film and television. 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.

NBC American television and radio network

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.

Happy is an American sitcom that aired on NBC in 1960 and 1961. The series stars Ronnie Burns, the son of George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Alfred Hitchcock British filmmaker

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was an English film director and producer, widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known as "the Master of Suspense", he directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades, becoming as well known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing of the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1965).

In Billy Wilder's 1957 film adaptation of Charles Lindbergh’s The Spirit of St. Louis, Deacon portrayed the chairman of the Columbia Aircraft Corporation, 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. [8]

Billy Wilder American filmmaker

Billy Wilder was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist whose career spanned more than five decades. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of the Hollywood Golden Age of cinema. With The Apartment, Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards as producer, director, and screenwriter for the same film.

Charles Lindbergh American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, military officer, author, inventor, explorer, and environmental activist. At age 25 in 1927, he went from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to instantaneous world fame by winning the Orteig Prize: making a nonstop flight from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York, to Paris, France. Lindbergh covered the ​33 12-hour, 3,600-statute-mile (5,800 km) flight alone in a single-engine purpose-built Ryan monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis.

<i>The Spirit of St. Louis</i> (film) 1957 film by Billy Wilder

The Spirit of St. Louis is a 1957 aviation biography film in CinemaScope and WarnerColor from Warner Bros., directed by Billy Wilder, produced by Leland Hayward, that stars James Stewart as Charles Lindbergh. The screenplay was adapted by Charles Lederer, Wendell Mayes, and Billy Wilder from Lindbergh's 1953 autobiographical account of his historic flight, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

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". [9] 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.

CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.

Fred Rutherford

Frederick "Fred" Rutherford is a fictional character in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver. The show aired October 4, 1957 to June 20, 1963. Fred is portrayed by Richard Deacon. Alan Rachins played the character in the 1997 film adaptation of the series, Leave It to Beaver.

<i>Leave It to Beaver</i> American sitcom from the 1950s and 60s

Leave It to Beaver is a late 1950s black-and-white American television sitcom about an inquisitive and often naïve boy, Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver, and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver's parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver's brother Wally. The show has attained an iconic status in the United States, with the Cleavers exemplifying the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.

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 .

<i>Carousel</i> (film) 1956 film by Henry King

Carousel is a 1956 American musical film based on the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical of the same name, which in turn was based on Ferenc Molnár's non-musical play Liliom. The film stars Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, and was directed by Henry King. Like the original stage production, the film contains what many critics consider some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most beautiful songs, as well as what may be, along with the plots of Allegro and South Pacific, the most serious storyline found in their musicals.

<i>Carousel</i> (musical) musical

Carousel is the second musical by the team of Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II. The 1945 work was adapted from Ferenc Molnár's 1909 play Liliom, transplanting its Budapest setting to the Maine coastline. The story revolves around carousel barker Billy Bigelow, whose romance with millworker Julie Jordan comes at the price of both their jobs. He participates in a robbery to provide for Julie and their unborn child; after it goes tragically wrong, he is given a chance to make things right. A secondary plot line deals with millworker Carrie Pipperidge and her romance with ambitious fisherman Enoch Snow. The show includes the well-known songs "If I Loved You", "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and "You'll Never Walk Alone". Richard Rodgers later wrote that Carousel was his favorite of all his musicals.

Shirley Jones American singer and actress

Shirley Mae Jones is an American singer and actress. In her six decades of show business, she has starred as wholesome characters in a number of well-known musical films, such as Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), and The Music Man (1962). She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing a vengeful prostitute in Elmer Gantry (1960). She played the lead role of Shirley Partridge, the widowed mother of five children, in the musical situation-comedy television series The Partridge Family (1970–74), which co-starred her real-life stepson, David Cassidy, son of Jack Cassidy.

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". [10] In 1966, he appeared on Phyllis Diller's short-lived television sitcom, The Pruitts of Southampton . [11] He also guest starred in the NBC family drama National Velvet, and in the ABC/Warner Bros. 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 . He also was an occasional panelist in the 1970s/early 1980s versions of Match Game .

It's a Great Life is an American situation comedy which aired on NBC from 1954 to 1956. Frances Bavier, six years before being cast as Aunt Bee in CBS's The Andy Griffith Show, played a somewhat similar role as Mrs. Amy Morgan, the owner of a boarding house.

<i>The Peoples Choice</i> (TV series)

The People's Choice is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC from 1955 to 1958. It was primarily sponsored by The Borden Company. Production of the series was overseen by George Burns's company, McCadden Productions.

How to Marry a Millionaire is an American sitcom that aired in syndication and on the NTA Film Network, from October 7, 1957, to August 20, 1959. The series is based on the 1953 film of the same name starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, and Lauren Bacall.

In 1969, he co-starred on Broadway as Horace Vandergelder in the long-running musical Hello, Dolly! , reuniting him onstage with Diller, who played the musical's zany title character. [11]

In 1983, Deacon reprised his role of Fred Rutherford in the television movie Still the Beaver , a sequel to the TV series Leave it to Beaver , which aired from 1957 to 1963. When the television movie spawned a series of the same name on The Disney Channel, he was to reprise the role once again but passed away weeks before the series began production.

In 1984, Deacon had a cameo role in the teen comedy film Bad Manners (also known as Growing Pains).

Personal life

Although he was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he and his family later moved to Binghamton, New York, living on the West Side. He attended West Junior High and Binghamton Central High School, where he met fellow Binghamton resident Rod Serling [12] .[ self-published source? ] During World War II, he served in the Army medical corps and upon completion returned to Binghamton in 1946 where he resumed living with his parents and securing in occupations such as a laboratory technician and an intern at Binghamton General Hospital [13] . He later attended Ithaca College first as a medical student but later found an interest in acting, partaking in doing nighttime radio announcing [14] . [ self-published source? ]

According to academic writers David L. Smith and Sean Griffin, Deacon was gay, and was among "a number of actors and actresses who were closeted homosexuals" working in Hollywood and often employed on Disney films. [15] [16] Deacon was a gourmet chef in addition to working as an actor. In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a series of cookbooks and hosted a Canadian television series on microwave oven cooking. [1] He never married. His New York Times obituary, published on August 11, 1984, states, "Mr. Deacon is survived by his father, Joseph Deacon of San Clemente, Calif., and a nephew and niece." [1]


Deacon died from cardiovascular disease in 1984, at age 63. His remains were cremated and the ashes scattered at sea [17] .

Selected filmography

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  1. 1 2 3 "Richard Deacon Dead at 62;A Comic Film and TV Actor". August 11, 1984. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  2. Major, Jack. "Name dropping - RICHARD DEACON" . Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  3. Kulzick, Kate (June 19, 2013). "Greatest TV Pilots: The Dick Van Dyke Show's "The Sick Boy and the Sitter" remains an effective, entertaining opener". PopOptiq. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  4. Kimball, Trevor (July 6, 2010). "Leave It to Beaver: The Cast Reunites to Remember the Classic TV Show". TV Series Finale. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  5. Martin Gitlin. The Greatest Sitcoms of All Time . Scarecrow Press; 7 November 2013. ISBN   978-0-8108-8725-1. p. 125–.
  6. "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Cast List: Full Cast of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Actors/Actresses". Ranker . Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  7. Powers, James (March 28, 2017). "'The Birds': THR's 1963 Review". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  8. The Spirit of St. Louis (book) , 1993 Minnesota Historical Society Press, pp 71–76
  9. "Leave It to Beaver (TV Series 1957–1963)" via
  10. "Cousin Itt and the Vocational Counselor" via
  11. 1 2 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.