Long in 1970
|Born||December 17, 1927|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 21, 1974 (aged 47)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Years of service||1950–1952|
|Rank||Private first class|
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 during the 1961–1962 season.
Long was the fifth of six children born in Chicago 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.
Early films: International Pictures
In 1946, Long was cast in his first film, Tomorrow Is Forever, as Drew, the son of the characters played by Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles. The role had been unfilled for months, and producers selected Long, who most closely matched the credentials required. It was made by International Pictures, which put him under contract.
Tom Kettle and Universal Pictures
International Pictures merged with Universal Pictures, which took over Long's contract. His fourth film was The Egg and I (1947), playing Tom Kettle, the eldest son of Ma and Pa Kettle, the characters played by Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride. The movie was a huge hit – so much so that Universal decided to spin off the Kettles into their own series.
Long signed a contract with Universal, for which he appeared in Tap Roots (1948) and Criss Cross (1949), playing Burt Lancaster's brother in the latter for Siodmak. He supported William Bendix in The Life of Riley (1949) based on the NBC radio show.
Long reprised his role as Tom Kettle in Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), which was a solid success at the box office. So, too, was Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950). He was Frank James in the Western Kansas Raiders (1950).
Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1952) was Long's fourth and final Kettle movie. He was the juvenile lead in Back at the Front (1952) and had supporting parts in All I Desire (1953), All American (1953) (as the villain to Tony Curtis's hero), Saskatchewan (1954), and Playgirl (1954).
Long began guest-starring on TV shows such as Lux Video Theater ("I'll Never Love Again") and was finally given a lead role by Universal in Cult of the Cobra (1955) – though still billed under Faith Domergue.
Long focused on television over the next few years, guest-starring on episodes of shows such as Climax!, Screen Directors Playhouse, TV Reader's Digest, The United States Steel Hour, Hey, Jeannie!, Schlitz Playhouse, Suspicion, Alcoa Theatre, Wagon Train, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Millionaire, Matinee Theatre, The Twilight Zone episodes ("Number 12 Looks Just Like You" and "Person or Persons Unknown"), and The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen.
Bourbon Street Beat
Long signed a contract with Warner Bros. and guest-starred in many of their TV series, including Lawman.
He played the recurring 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.
77 Sunset Strip
He returned to films with a role in the MGM romantic musical Follow the Boys, along with co-stars Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss, and Roger Perry. He did The Tenderfoot (1964) for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.
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.
Long went to Finland to make a film, Make Like a Thief (1965), which he also helped direct. "I've had the longest awkward period in the history of Hollywood", he said around this time. "I sign more autographs than anyone in the industry. They either think I'm Robert Goulet, Gig Young, Robert Sterling, or myself. We don't look a thing alike if we're together, but there is a flash similarity."
Long added that he hoped to play more character parts. "I'm rotting from the inside out and it's just gotten to my face", he said. "A man doesn't get interesting on screen until his 40s."
The Big Valley
In 1965, at the age of 38, Long began his role as attorney Jarrod Barkley, the oldest son of rancher Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck), in 112 episodes of The Big Valley, the last of the major Four Star Television series, a Western that ran on ABC from 1965 to 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.)
Nanny and the Professor
Long and Mills later provided their voices for two animated-film versions of the show: Nanny and the Professor (1972) and Nanny and the Professor and the Phantom of the Circus (1973).
Thicker Than Water
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, whom he had married 14 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. The couple had three children together during their troubled marriage: Carey (1957–2008), Valerie (b. 1958), and Gregory (b. 1960). In 1961, Long was arrested by police after Corday falsely accused him of trying to kill her while drunk. Richard's brother-in-law, actor Marshall Thompson, paid Long's bail and Corday declined to pursue the charges. After initially indicating she would file for divorce, Corday later reconciled with Long.
As a youth, Long contracted pneumonia, which apparently weakened his heart. He later experienced cardiac problems as an adult and suffered his first heart attack in 1961. Heavy use of cigarettes and alcohol aggravated his condition during the 1960s, and likely contributed to several more heart seizures. Finally, after a month-long stay in Tarzana Medical Center in Los Angeles to treat additional attacks, he died on December 21, 1974, just four days after his 47th birthday. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
|1946||Tomorrow Is Forever||Drew Hamilton|
|1946||The Stranger||Noah Longstreet|
|1946||The Dark Mirror||Rusty|
|1947||The Egg and I||Tom Kettle|
|1948||Tap Roots||Bruce Dabney|
|1949||The Life of Riley||Jeff Taylor|
|1949||Criss Cross||Slade Thompson|
|1949||Ma and Pa Kettle||Tom Kettle|
|1950||Kansas Raiders||Frank James|
|1950||Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town||Tom Kettle|
|1951||Air Cadet||Russ Coulter||Alternate title: Jet Men on the Air|
|1951||Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm||Tom Kettle|
|1952||Back at the Front||Sgt. Rose||Alternate title: Willie and Joe in Tokyo|
|1953||All I Desire||Russ Underwood|
|1953||All American||Howard Carter||Alternate title: The Winning Way|
|1954||Saskatchewan||Abbott||Alternate title: O'Rourke of the Royal Mounted|
|1954||Playgirl||Barron Courtney III|
|1955||Cult of the Cobra||Paul Able|
|1956||He Laughed Last||Jimmy Murphy|
|1956||Fury at Gunsight Pass||Roy Hanford|
|1959||House on Haunted Hill||Lance Schroeder|
|1959||Tokyo After Dark||Sgt. Robert Douglas|
|1963||‘’Twilight Zone Season 3 Episode 27’’||David Gurney|
|1963||Follow the Boys||Lt. Peter Langley|
|1964||Make Like a Thief||V. Bartley "Bart" Lanigan|
|1972||Nanny and the Professor||Professor Harold Everett (voice)||Animated film|
|1973||Nanny and the Professor and the Phantom of the Circus||Professor Harold Everett (voice)||Animated film|
|1974||The Girl Who Came Gift-Wrapped||Michael Green||Television film|
|1974||Death Cruise||Jerry Carter||Television film (final film role)|
|1958–63||77 Sunset Strip||Rex Randolph||31 episodes|
|1959–60||Bourbon Street Beat||Rex Randolph||38 episodes|
|1962/'63||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Paul Devore/Eddie Breech||2 episodes|
|1965–69||The Big Valley||Jarrod Barkley||112 episodes|
|1970–71||Nanny and the Professor||Professor Harold Everett||54 episodes|
|1972–73||Thicker than Water||Ernie Paine||9 episodes|
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- "Suzan Ball throws away crutches for marriage". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. April 12, 1954. p. 2.
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- "TV star Richard Long fights heart ailment". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. April 26, 1961. p. 17.