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Victor Edwin French (December 4, 1934 – June 15, 1989) was an American actor and director. He is remembered for roles on the television programs Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven, and Carter Country.
Victor Edwin French
December 4, 1934
|Died||June 15, 1989 (aged 54)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(m. 1959; div. 1975)
(m. 1976; div. 1978)
French was born in Santa Barbara, California, to an Armenian mother, Nellie Louise Cowles, and Ted French, an actor and stuntman who appeared in Westerns in the 1940s. French later appeared with his father in one episode of Gunsmoke, "Prime of Life", and another episode, "The Wishbone", where he was credited as "Victor Frence", both in 1966.
French appeared in the war film The Quick and The Dead (1963), which was produced by the theatre arts department of Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys, which Victor French attended. Ted French died in 1978.
Also in 1963, he appeared as one of the "Spencer brothers" in the movie that was a forerunner of the television series The Waltons titled Spencer's Mountain starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. Both the movie and the series were based upon the same novel by Earl Hamner Jr.
Like his father, French began his television career as a stuntman in mostly Westerns and anthology shows. He guest-starred in 39 television series. Though he had an uncredited role as an office clerk in the film The Magnificent Seven, French's first real Western role was the 1961 episode "The Noose" of the syndicated series Two Faces West. French was cast as Larrimore in the episode "Fargo" on the ABC/Warner Bros. Western series The Dakotas.
French appeared 23 times on Gunsmoke, often playing a dangerous or bumbling crook. On October 25, 1971, he portrayed cold-hearted robber and murderer Trafton. French guest-starred in another episode, "Matt's Love Story".
French appeared on The Waltons a year later. In "The Fulfillment", French plays blacksmith Curtis Norton, whose wife could not have children and subsequently adopts an eight-year-old orphan boy who has come to spend the week on Walton's Mountain.
In other work, French starred opposite Elvis Presley in the 1969 Western, Charro!, and played the recurring character Agent 44 in the NBC series Get Smart in 1965–1966, where he portrayed an undercover spy who showed up in the worst, most unlikely of places (such as a mailbox or a porthole in a boat), and appeared in a few episodes of Bonanza, with Michael Landon. Shortly before being teamed up once again, French made a guest appearance on Kung Fu as a corrupt, bigoted sheriff in 1973. French also guest-starred in episode 24 ("Trial by Fury") of season two of Mission: Impossible, in which he played the informer in a prison.
Work with Michael LandonEdit
French is most widely known for costarring with Michael Landon on two television series. He appeared on Little House on the Prairie (1974–1977, 1981–1984) as Isaiah Edwards (French also directed some episodes of the show). He appeared on Highway to Heaven (1984–1989) as Mark Gordon.
From 1977–79, he left Little House on the Prairie to star as a small-town Georgia police chief in Carter Country. When the series ended, the actor was surprised that Landon was agreeable to his returning to the character of Mr. Edwards. French appeared in episode eight of season six and episode eight of season eight, then returned full-time, starting with episode 19 of season eight.
According to interviews with Cindy Landon, and Kent and Susan McCray on the A&E DVD release of Highway to Heaven, season three, French and Michael Landon were "crazy about each other", indicating that they always made each other laugh and enjoyed each other's company. Cindy Landon mentions that French was a quiet and reclusive kind of guy as opposed to Landon's outgoing personality.
French died at the age of 54 on June 15, 1989, at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California, three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
|1960||The Magnificent Seven||Front Office Clerk||Uncredited|
|1961||The Clown and the Kid||Patrolman #1||Uncredited|
|1963||The Quick and the Dead||Milo Riley|
|Spencer's Mountain||Spencer Brother||Uncredited|
|Death of a Gunfighter||Phil Miller|
|1970||Cutter's Trail||Alex Bowen||TV film|
|There Was a Crooked Man...||Whiskey|
|Chato's Land||Martin Hall|
|1974||The Nickel Ride||Paddie|
|The House on Skull Mountain||Dr. Andrew Cunningham|
|The Tribe||Mathis||TV film|
|1979||Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill||Mac||TV film|
|1980||The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story||Anatoly Andreyev||TV film|
|Riding for the Pony Express||Irving G. Peacock||TV film|
|The Ghosts of Buxley Hall||Sergeant Major Chester B. Sweet||TV film|
|1982||An Officer and a Gentleman||Joe Pokrifki|
|1983||Little House: Look Back to Yesterday||Isaiah Edwards||TV film|
|1984||Little House: The Last Farewell|
|Little House: Bless All the Dear Children|
|1955||TV Reader's Digest||Bill's Henchman||Episode: "Human Nature Through a Rear View Mirror"|
|1961||Two Faces West||Episode: "The Noose"|
|Hazel||Bailiff||Episode: "A Matter of Principle"|
|1962||The Donna Reed Show||Mike||Episode: "The New Office"|
|G.E. True||Episode: "Circle of Death"|
|The Virginian||Roy||Episode: "The Accomplice"|
|Bonanza||Conn||Episode: "Gallagher's Sons"|
|1963||Hawaiian Eye||Floyd Dillon||Episode: "The Long Way Home"|
|The Dakotas||Larrimore||Episode: "Fargo"|
|77 Sunset Strip||Deputy Collins||Episode: "Stranger from the Sea"|
|Temple Houston||Willie Harrod||Episode: "Letter of the Law"|
|Kraft Suspense Theatre||Murderer||Episode: "A Hero for Our Times"|
|Grindl||Deputy #1||Episode: "The Great Schultz"|
|1964||The Virginian||Michael||Episode: "The Secret of Brynmar Hall"|
|No Time for Sergeants||Leonard||Episode: "The $100,000 Canteen"|
|Rawhide||Corporal||Episode: "Incident at Hourglass"|
|1965||Wagon Train||Beal||Episode: "The Silver Lady"|
|Hogan's Heroes||Commando||Episode: "Kommandant of the Year"|
|Mister Ed||Murphy||Episode: "Anybody Got a Zebra?"|
|The Wild Wild West||Arnold||Episode: "The Night of a Thousand Eyes"|
|Rawhide||Bartender||Episode: "The Vasquez Woman", uncredited|
|Slattery's People||Peter Lindler||Episode: "The Hero"|
|Dr. Kildare||Jack||Episode: "Welcome Home, Dear Anna"|
|Ben Casey||Dr. Wood||Episode: "The Man from Quasilia"|
|My Favorite Martian||Mugs Carson||Episode: "Lorelei Brown vs. Everybody"|
|Lassie||Joe||Episode: "Charlie Banana"|
|Get Smart||Insurance Man||Episode: "Too Many Chiefs"|
|1966||Batman||Hood No. I||Episode: "A Death Worse Than Fate"|
|Get Smart||Agent 44||7 episodes|
|Lassie||Surveyor||Episode: "The Untamed Land"|
|The Hero||Fred Gilman||10 episodes|
|Death Valley Days||Louis Baptiste||Episode: "Hugh Glass Meets the Bear"|
|1966-1975||Gunsmoke||Various roles||18 episodes|
|1967||Tarzan||Cotonasos||Episode: "A Pride of Assassins"|
|F Troop||Corporal Matt Delaney||Episode: "The Day They Shot Agarn"|
|Iron Horse||Harry Cleary||Episode: "Decision at Sundown"|
|Captain Nice||Anthony||Episode: "The Week They Stole Payday"|
|The Beverly Hillbillies||Tony||Episode: "Robin Hood and the Sheriff"|
|Death Valley Days||Charbonneau||Episode: "The Girl Who Walked the West"|
|Cimarron Strip||Rafe Coleman||Episode: "Till the End of Night"|
|The Danny Thomas Hour||Detective||Episode: "The Zero Man"|
|Daniel Boone||Blue Belly Sangster||Episode: "The Ballad of Sidewinder and Cherokee"|
|The F.B.I.||Lloyd Smith||Episode: "False Witness"|
|1968||Gentle Ben||Turner||Episode: "Ben the Champ"|
|Bonanza||Aaron Gore||Episode: "The Burning Sky"|
|Mission: Impossible||Leduc||Episode: "Trial by Fury"|
|1969||Lancer||Travis Caudle||Episode: "The Measure of a Man"|
|Bonanza||Jesse Potter||Episode: "Meena"|
|The F.B.I.||Vincent Roger Tobias||Episode: "Moment of Truth"|
|1970||Daniel Boone||Ess||Recurring role|
|Dan August||Art Bowman||Episode: "When the Shouting Dies"|
|Mannix||Karl Hastings||Episode: "Figures in a Landscape"|
|1971||Bonanza||Tom Callahan||Episode: "An Earthquake Called Callahan"|
|Longstreet||Hank Cottle||Episode: "One in the Reality Column"|
|Mission: Impossible||Vic Hatcher||Episode: "The Tram"|
|O'Hara, U.S. Treasury||Paris Kohler||Episode: "Operation: Deadhead"|
|1973||The Streets of San Francisco||Reggie Norris||Episode: "Deathwatch"|
|Kung Fu||Sheriff Aldon Pool||Episode: "The Ancient Warrior"|
|The Rookies||Crazy Marvin||Episode: "Deadly Cage"|
|The F.B.I.||Vince Riles||Episode: "Tower of Terror"|
|1974||Mannix||Matt Brandon||Episode: "The Dark Hours"|
|The Waltons||Curtis Norton||Episode: "The Fulfillment"|
|1974-1983||Little House on the Prairie||Isaiah Edwards||57 episodes|
|1976||Sara||Achille||Episode: "Mountain Man"|
|Petrocelli||Roy Caldwell||Episode: "The Pay Off"|
|1977-1979||Carter Country||Chief Roy Mobey||44 episodes|
|1979||CHiPs||Victor French||Episode: "Roller Disco"|
|1980||Disneyland||Sergeant Major Chester B. Sweet||Episode: "The Ghosts of Buxley Hall"|
|1984-1989||Highway to Heaven||Mark Gordon||111 episodes|
Director (film and television)Edit
- Little House on the Prairie - 18 episodes (1974-1983)
- Gunsmoke - 5 episodes (1974-1975)
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - episode - The Satyr (1981)
- Dallas - episode - Denial (1982)
- Little House: Look Back to Yesterday - TV movie (1983)
- Little House: Bless All the Dear Children - TV movie (1984)
- Highway to Heaven - 12 episodes (1984-1986)
- Rock-a-Doodle - co-director (live action segments) (1991)
- "Victor French, 54, Actor on TV". The New York Times. Associated Press. June 16, 1989. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
- Schellie, Don (May 16, 1973). "The Real West". Tucson Daily Citizen.
- "Symposium on Movie Slated". Los Angeles Times. January 5, 1964.
- Sar, Ali (January 10, 1964). "'The Quick and the Dead': Two Valley Alumni Show Successful $32,000 Film". The Van Nuys News.
- Harris, Harry (March 25, 1979). "Who needs stardom? Not French". The Philadelphia Inquirer TV Week.
- Folkart, Burt A. (June 16, 1989). "Victor French; Actor, Director on 'Highway to Heaven,' 'Little House'". Los Angeles Times.
- "Bronze statue of Reagan to be unveiled at awards Western Heritage ceremony packs star power". The Dallas Morning News. Associated Press. March 30, 1998.