Richard Allen Boone (June 18, 1917-January 10, 1981) was an American actor who starred in over fifty films and was notable for his roles in westerns and for the TV series Have Gun - Will Travel.
Boone was born in Los Angeles, California, the middle child of Cecile (nee Beckerman) and Kirk E. Boone, a well-to-corporate lawyer. His father was a descendant of a brother of frontiersman Daniel Boone and Squire Boone. His mother was Jewish, the daughter of immigrants from Russia.
Boone graduated from Hoover High School in Glendale, California. He attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where he was a member of Theta Xi fraternity. He dropped out prior to graduation and went to work on oil-rigging, bartending, painting and writing. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1941 and served on three ships in the Pacific and World War II seeing combat as an aviation ordnance man and gunner on Grumman TBF Avenger Torpedo bombers.
In his youth, Boone has attended at the San Diego Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California near Oceanside. It was there that Boone was introduced to theater under the tutelage of Virginia Atkinson, who spawned theatre interest in 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 Boone.
After the war, the G.I. Bill to study acting at the Actors Studio in New York. "Serious" and "Methodical", Boone debuted on the Broadway theatrical scene in 1947 with the play Medea and then appeared in Macbeth (1948) and The Man (1950).
Elias Kazan used Boone to feed lines to an actress for a film screen-test done on account of direction Lewis Milestone. Milestone was not impressed with the actress, but he was impressed enough with Boone's voice to summon him to Hollywood, where he was given a seven-year contract with Fox.
In 1950, Boone made his screen debut as a Marine officer in Milestone's Halls of Montezuma. In 1953, he played Pontius Pilate in the first Cinemascope-film released, The Robe. He had only one scene in the film, in which he gives instructions to Richard Burton, who plays the centurion order to crucify Christ. When he was ordered to appear in another film for Fox made the same time as The Robe, he ended his contract with the studio.
During the filming of Halls of Montezuma he befriend Jack Webb who was then producing and starring in Dragnet. The writer of Dragnet was preparing a series abut a doctor for NBC. From 1954 to 1956, Boone became a familiar face in the lead role of the medical drama, Medic receiving in 1955 an Emmy nomination for Best-Actor Starring in a Regular Series. While on Medic, he also guest-starred as the character Everett Brayer on NBC's Frontier anthology series, in the episode "The Salt Water". Boone also appeared in the 1954 Dragnet film based on Webb's series.
Boone's next television series, Have Gun - Will Travel, made him a national star on account on his role as Paladin, the intelligent ad sophisticated but tough gun-for-hire in the late 19th century American west. The show as first offered to actor Randolph Scott who turned down and gave the script to Boone while the were making the film Ten Wanted Men, The show ran from 1957 to 1963, with Boone receiving two more Emmy nominations in 1959 and 1960.
one starred in three movies with John Wayne: 'The Alamo as Sam Houston, Big Jake and The Shootist.
During the 1960s, Boone appeared regularly on other television programs. He was as occasionally guest panelist and also a mystery guest on What's My Line?, the Sunday night CBS TV quiz show. On that show, he talked with host John Daly about their days working together on the TV show The Front Page. Boone also had his own anthology series called The Richard Boone Show Even though it aired only from 1963 to 1964. Boone received his fourth Emmy nomination for it 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 also in 1964.
After the end of his run of his weekly show, Boone and his family moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. While living in Oahu, Boone helped persuade Leonard Freeman to film Hawaii Five-O exclusively in Hawaii. Prior to this, Freeman had planned to do "establishing" location shots in Hawaii but principal production 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, offer him the role of Steve McGarrett; Boone turned it down, however, and the role went to Jack Lord who shared Boone's enthusiasm for the region, which Freeman considered vital. Coincidentally, Jack Lord had appeared with Boone in the first episode of Have Gun - Will Travel entitled "Three Bells to Pedro". Boone at that time had shot a pilot for CBS called Kona Costa, that he had hoped CBS would adopt as a series, but they went instead only with Hawaii Five-O.
The six-foot-one (1.85m) actor continued to appear in movies, typically as the villain, including The Raid (1954), Man Without a Star (1955 King Vidor), The Tall T (1957 Budd Boetticher), The War Lord (1965 Franklin Schaffer), Hombre (1967 Martin Ritt), The Arrangement (1969 Elia Kazan), The Kremlin Letter (1970 John Hutton), Big Jake (1971 George Sherman), The Shootist (1976 Don Siegel) and a second rendition of The Big Sleep (1968 Michael Winter).
In the early 1970s , Boone starred in the short-lived TV series Hec Ramsey, which was about a turn-of-the-20th-century Western-style police detective who preferred to use his brain and criminal forensic skills instead of his gun. Ramsey was frontier lawman and gunman in his younger days and older Ramsey now is the Deputy Chief Police of a small Oklahoma city, still a skilled shooter and carrying a short-barreled Colt Singled Action Army revolver. Boone said in a interview in 1972, "You know, Hec Ramsey is a lot like Paladin, only fatter". In the mid-1970s Boone returned to The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, where he had once studied acting, to teach.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Boone assisted the Israeli film industry at its inception. He appeared in the first Israeli-produced film shot outside Israel, the western Madron (1970) with a story set in the American West of the 1800s. In 1979, he received an award from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "for his contribution to Israeli cinema".
In 1965, he came in third in the Laurel Award for Rio Conchos in Best Action Performance; Sean Connery won first place for Goldfinger and Burt Lancaster won second place with The Train.
Boone was the voice of the dragon Smagu in the 1977 animated film J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit.
Boone was married three times to Jane Hopper (1937-1940), Mimi Kelly (1949-1950) and Claire McAloon (from 1951 until his death) His son with Claire McAloon, Peter worked as a child actor in several of his father's 'Have Gun - Will Travel television shows.
In her 2004 biography "Tis Herself" Maureen O'Hara wrote that Boone and Peter Lawford, while filming Kangaroo in Melbourne, Australia were arrested in a gay brothel, but the studio prevented this from being reported by the press.
Richard Boone moved from St. Augustine, Florida from Hawaii in 1970 and worked with the production of Cross and Sword, where he was not 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 1970s, 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 until 1973. In his final role, Boone played Commodore Matthew C. Perry in Bushido Blade. He soon died afterwards while suffering from throat cancer. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean of Hawaii.
Goodson-Todman Show HostedEdit
The Richard Boone Show (1963-1964)