Open main menu

Jeff Richards (baseball player/actor)

Jeff Richards (November 1, 1924 – July 28, 1989) was an American minor league baseball player with the Portland Beavers, who later became an actor. He was sometimes credited as Dick Taylor and Richard Taylor.

Jeff Richards
Jeff Richards (1959).jpg
Richards in Jefferson Drum, 1959
Born
Richard Mansfield Taylor

(1924-11-01)November 1, 1924
DiedJuly 28, 1989(1989-07-28) (aged 64)
OccupationBaseball player, actor
Years active1946-1949 (Baseball, shortstop)
1948-1966 (film and television)
Spouse(s)
Shirley Sibre (m. 1954–1955)
(divorced)
Vickie Taylor (1955-?)

He is best known for his role as Benjamin Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). Following this performance, he tied with George Nader and Joe Adams for the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. Despite this, his acting career soon floundered.

Early life and careerEdit

He was born Richard Mansfield Taylor in Portland, Oregon. Taylor joined the United States Navy during World War II and served until 1946.

After the war was over, Richard Taylor played shortstop for the Portland Beavers for a year and then for the Salem Senators; however, his baseball career ended after he tore a ligament and was unable to play anymore.

Early Acting CareerEdit

He then went to Hollywood to pursue a film career.[1] His first roles included uncredited bits at Warner Bros in The Big Punch (1948), Johnny Belinda (1948), Fighter Squadron (1948) and The Girl from Jones Beach (1949).

At 20th Century Fox, he had small roles in Mother Is a Freshman (1949), and Cheaper by the Dozen (1950). He went to Columbia to make Kill the Umpire (1950), cast as "Richard Taylor". He played a baseball player and publicity said he used to play for Salem in the Western League and that they had spent six weeks trying to cast the role.[2]

MGMEdit

He got a screen test at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and the studio changed his name to Jeff Richards.

Richards had uncredited roles in The Strip (1951), The Tall Target (1951), and The People Against O'Hara (1951) and a bigger credited part in Angels in the Outfield (1951) as a baseball player.[3] He was being sought to play Frank Merriwell.[4]

Richards had small roles in Just This Once (1952), The Sellout (1952), Desperate Search (1952), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Above and Beyond (1952), and Battle Circus (1953).[5] He had a slightly bigger part in Code Two (1953).[6]

Career PeakEdit

Richards had his first sizeable one, billed third as a ball player, in Big Leaguer (1954).[7] Seagulls Over Sorrento (1954) was another decent sized role. Then Richards was the third lead in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), after Howard Keel and Jane Powell. It was a big hit and established him as a film name. MGM started to build him up as a star.[8] Dore Schary, head of the studio, said the actor had "tremendous personal charm" and "looks like a great bet [to become a star], based on his reception til now."[9]

MGM announced him as star of O'Kelley's Eclipse but it was not made.[10] He was announced for Forbidden Planet but did not appear in the final film.[11] Bar Sinister with Roger Moore was announced but not made.[12]

Richards was one of Eleanor Parker's brothers in Many Rivers to Cross (1955) and was finally given a star part in the Western The Marauders (1955) playing a hero opposite Dan Duryea. He played the lead in the box-office flop It's a Dog's Life (1955) and had one of the male leads in the musical The Opposite Sex (1956).[13]

The Marauders, It's a Dog's Life and The Opposite Sex all lost money and MGM began to lose enthusiasm for Richards. He began working on TV, guest starring in "Man with a Choice" for The Web (1957) and "The Other Side of the Curtain" for Suspicion.[14]

Richards supported Glenn Ford in MGM's popular comedy Don't Go Near the Water (1957) but it was a relatively minor role. In April 1957 he secured his release from the studio.[15]

Post MGMEdit

Richards guest starred on The Millionaire, and Schlitz Playhouse, then co-starred with Mamie Van Doren in the Warner Bros rodeo drama Born Reckless (1958).

In 1958, on television, Richards played the title role in the NBC western television series Jefferson Drum (1958–59), the story of a crusading journalist, with Eugene Martin portraying his young son. The series was cancelled after twenty-six episodes aired over two seasons.[16]

He also had the lead in Island of Lost Women (1959) made by Jaguar Productions. Richards signed a five-year contract with Jaguar to make two films a year[17] but made no further films for them.

He guest starred in Behind Closed Doors, Alcoa Theatre, Adventures in Paradise, and Laramie and played the role in 1961 of Jubal Evans in the episode "Incident of His Brother's Keeper" of the CBS western Rawhide.

Richard's last lead role was in the underwater adventure The Secret of the Purple Reef (1960). His last role was in 1966 as Kallen in the film Waco.[18]

Personal lifeEdit

He was married to Vickie Flaxman in 1955[19] and they had one child (a son born in 1957[20]) before they divorced. She later married actor Van Williams.

Jeff Richards died on July 28, 1989, aged 64 from acute respiratory failure. He is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1948 The Big Punch Bit Role Uncredited
1948 Johnny Belinda Floyd McQuiggen Uncredited
1948 Fighter Squadron Captain (scenes deleted)
1949 Mother Is a Freshman Butch Uncredited
1949 The Girl from Jones Beach Lifeguard Uncredited
1950 Cheaper by the Dozen Bit Role Uncredited
1950 Kill the Umpire Bob Landon
1951 The Tall Target Philadelphia Police Officer Uncredited
1951 The Strip G.I. Ward Patient Uncredited
1951 The People Against O'Hara Wilson Uncredited
1951 Angels in the Outfield Dave Rothberg
1952 Just This Once Denham's Clerk Uncredited
1952 The Sellout Walter O. Hickby
1952 Desperate Search Ed
1952 The Bad and the Beautiful Studio Props Department Man Uncredited
1952 Above and Beyond Thomas Ferebee
1953 Battle Circus Lieutenant
1953 Code Two Harry Whenlon
1953 Big Leaguer Adam Polachuk
1954 Crest of the Wave Seaman D. 'Butch' Clelland (USN)
1954 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Benjamin
1955 Many Rivers to Cross Fremont Cherne
1955 The Marauders Corey Everett
1955 It's a Dog's Life Patch McGill
1956 Meet Me in Las Vegas Jeff Richards Uncredited
1956 The Opposite Sex Buck Winston
1957 Don't Go Near the Water Lt. Ross Pendleton
1958 Born Reckless Kelly Cobb
1959 Island of Lost Women Mark Bradley
1960 The Secret of the Purple Reef Mark Christophe
1966 Waco Kallen (final film role)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hoffman, J. (1956, Jan 29). Former baseball players agree motion pictures beat baseball. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166861992
  2. ^ Schallert, E. (1949, Oct 19). 'Blind spot' recruits broadway actors; gene lockhart in 'salesman'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166011281
  3. ^ Schallert, E. (1951, Apr 20). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166236693
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (1951, May 03). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166266596
  5. ^ STUDIO BRIEFS. (1952, Jan 26). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166314117
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (1952, Aug 21). Nugent seeks diana lynn for stage, screen deal; jeff richards in 'code 2'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166396232
  7. ^ Hopper, H. (1953, Jan 15). Richards will star in 'the big leaguer'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166423461
  8. ^ "Hollywood is flat NEW FACES out looking for..." The World's News (2786). New South Wales, Australia. 14 May 1955. p. 30. Retrieved 1 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ Schary, D. (1955, Jan 09). THEN IT'S UP TO THE PUBLIC. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166745201
  10. ^ Schallert, E. (1954, Feb 03). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166573350
  11. ^ Schallert, E. (1954, Jul 21). 'Flying finns' proposed; maxwell, cooper roles named; metro into space. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166668314
  12. ^ Hopper, H. (1955, Feb 12). Comedy will costar ewell, joan caulfield. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166713091
  13. ^ Schallert, E. (1956, Jan 23). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166921663
  14. ^ Ames, W. (1957, Jul 16). Iron curtain to be backdrop for new hitchcock whodunit. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167204238
  15. ^ Schallert, E. (1957, Apr 25). Mexico deal attracts palance; jeff richards quits studio contract. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167110618
  16. ^ "Jefferson Drum". ctva.biz. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  17. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1957, Nov 22). Jeff richards wins termer. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167210427
  18. ^ Martin, B. (1965, Dec 27). 'Buffalo soldiers' acquired. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/155323779
  19. ^ Hopper, H. (1955, Dec 18). MGM actor jeff richards weds teacher. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166863058
  20. ^ New son of jeff richards in early debut. (1957, Apr 11). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167143924

External linksEdit