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Richard Boone 1917-1981

Country : Los Angeles, CA
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1917-06-18
Date of death : 1981-01-10
Cause of Death : Throat cancer

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Richard Allen Boone (June 18, 1917 – January 10, 1981) was an American actor who starred in over 50 films and was notable for his roles in Westerns. He was best known as the star of the TV series Have Gun – Will Travel.

Early life

Boone was born in Los Angeles, California, the middle child of Cecile (née Beckerman) and Kirk E. Boone, a well-to-do corporate lawyer. He was descended from a brother of frontiersman Daniel Boone, and was an uncle of actor Randy Boone (born 1942) and a cousin of singer-actor Pat Boone. Boone graduated from Hoover High School in Glendale, CA, but left Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, prior to graduation and tried his hand at oil-rigging, bartending, painting and writing, before joining the United States Navy in 1941. He served as an aviation ordinanceman and saw combat on three ships in the South Pacific during World War II.


After the war, he used the G.I. Bill to study acting at the Actor's Studio in New York. Serious and methodical, Boone debuted on Broadway in 1947 in the play Medea, and appeared in Macbeth (1948) and The Man (1950).

In 1950, Boone made his screen debut as a Marine in Halls of Montezuma. He starred in three movies with John Wayne: The Alamo (as Sam Houston), Big Jake, and The Shootist. In 1953, he played Pontius Pilate in the first released Cinemascope film, The Robe. He had only one scene in the film, in which he gives instructions to Richard Burton, who plays the centurion ordered to crucify Christ.

From 1954 to 1956, Boone became a familiar face when he appeared weekly as the star of the NBC medical drama Medic, having received an Emmy nomination for Best Actor Starring in a Regular Series in 1955. While on Medic, he also he guest starred as the character Everett Brayer on NBC's Frontier anthology series in the episode "The Salt War".

It was Boone's second television series, Have Gun - Will Travel, which made him a national star with his role as Paladin. The show ran from 1957 to 1963, with Boone receiving two more Emmy nominations -in 1959 and 1960.

During the 1960s Boone appeared regularly on other television programs. He was a regular on the What's My Line? Mystery Guests on the Sunday Night CBS-TV quiz show. On that show, he talked with host John Charles Daly about their days working together on the TV show The Front Page. Boone also had his own television anthology, The Richard Boone Show. Even though it only aired from 1963 to 1964, he received his fourth Emmy nomination in 1964. Along with The Danny Kaye Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Richard Boone Show won a Golden Globe for Best Show in 1964.

After cancellation of his weekly show, Boone and his family moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. While living on Oahu, Boone helped persuade Leonard Freeman to film Hawaii Five-O exclusively in Hawaii. Prior to that, Freeman had planned to do "establishing" location shots in Hawaii, but most production would be done in Southern California. Boone and others convinced Freeman that the islands could offer all necessary support for a major TV series and would provide an authenticity otherwise unobtainable. Freeman, impressed by Boone's love of Hawaii, offered him the role of Steve McGarrett. Boone turned it down, and the role went to Jack Lord, who shared Boone's enthusiasm, which Freeman considered vital.

The six foot two inch (1.88 m) Boone continued to appear in movies, commonly as a villain. These include The Raid (1954), Man Without a Star (1955 King Vidor), The Tall T (1957 Budd Boetticher), The War Lord (1965 Franklin Schaffner), Hombre (1967 Martin Ritt), The Arrangement (1968 Elia Kazan), The Kremlin Letter (1969 John Huston), Big Jake (1971 Michael Wayne), and The Shootist (1976 Don Siegel).

Boone starred as Hec Ramsey, a turn-of-the-20th-century Western-style detective who preferred to use his brain instead of his gun, in the TV series of the same name in the early 1970s. He once wryly noted to an interviewer in 1972, "You know, Hec Ramsey is a lot like Paladin, only fatter."[2] Boone returned to The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York — where he had once studied acting — to teach it, in the mid-1970s.

In 1965, he came third in the Laurel Award for Best Action Performance — Sean Connery won first place with Goldfinger and Burt Lancaster won second place with The Train.

Personal life

In his youth, Boone attended the San Diego Army & Navy Academy in Pacific Beach near San Diego. It was at the Academy where Boone was introduced to theatre. Under the tutelage of Virginia Atkinson who spawned theatre interest of many who eventually found their way to Hollywood. Robert Walker another Academy graduate and member of the school’s theatre club, Masque & Wig, became a close acquaintance of Richard Boone.

Boone was married three times: to Jane Hopper (1937  – 1940), Mimi Kelly (1949 – 1950), and Claire McAloon (1951), by whom he had a son, Peter.

Boone moved to St. Augustine, Florida from Hawaii in 1970, and worked with the production of Cross and Sword when he wasn't acting on television or in movies, until his death in 1981. In the last year of his life, Boone was appointed Florida's cultural ambassador. During the 1970's, he wrote a newspaper column for the St. Augustine Record called, "It Seems To Me." He also gave acting lectures at Flagler College in 1972-1973. In his final role, Boone played Commodore Matthew Perry in Bushido Blade. He died soon afterward of throat cancer in St. Augustine. His ashes were scattered in the ocean off Hawaii. His retirement home is still standing at 152 Marine Street in St. Augustine, Florida.

In her 2004 autobiography Tis Herself, actress Maureen O'Hara recalled that Boone and Peter Lawford were arrested in a gay bar in Melbourne while filming Kangaroo (1952).



  • Halls of Montezuma (1951)
  • Call Me Mister (1951)
  • The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951)
  • Red Skies of Montana (1952)
  • Return of the Texan (1952)
  • Kangaroo (1952)
  • Way of a Gaucho (1952)
  • Pony Soldier (1952)
  • Man on a Tightrope (1953)
  • Vicki (1953)
  • The Robe (1953)
  • City of Bad Men (1953)
  • Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
  • The Siege at Red River (1954)
  • The Raid (1954)
  • Dragnet (1954)
  • Ten Wanted Men (1955)
  • Man Without a Star (1955)
  • Robbers' Roost (1955)
  • The Big Knife (1955)
  • Battle Stations (1956)
  • Star in the Dust (1956)
  • Away All Boats (1956)
  • The Tall T (1957)
  • Lizzie (1957)
  • The Garment Jungle (1957)
  • I Bury the Living (1958)
  • Ocean's Eleven (1960)
  • The Alamo (1960)
  • A Thunder of Drums (1961)
  • Rio Conchos (1964)
  • The War Lord (1965)
  • Hombre (1967)
  • Kona Coast (1968)
  • The Night of the Following Day (1968)
  • The Arrangement (1969)
  • The Kremlin Letter (1970)
  • Madron (film) (1970)
  • Big Jake (1971)
  • Against a Crooked Sky (1975)
  • Diamante Lobo (1976)
  • The Shootist (1976)
  • The Big Sleep (1978)
  • Winter Kills (1979)
  • The Bushido Blade (1981)


  • The Front Page (1949)
  • Medic (1954)
  • Have Gun – Will Travel (1957)
  • The Richard Boone Show (1963)
  • In Broad Daylight (1971)
  • Deadly Harvest (1972)
  • Hec Ramsey (1972)
  • Goodnight, My Love (1972)
  • The Great Niagara (1974)
  • The Last Dinosaur (1977)
  • The Hobbit (voice of Smaug the Dragon) (1977)

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