About Richard Allen Boone
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 and for starring in the TV series Have Gun – Will Travel.
Boone was born in Los Angeles, California, the middle child of Cecile (née Beckerman) and Kirk E. Boone, a well-to-do corporate lawyer. His father was a descendant of Squire Boone, younger brother of frontiersman Daniel Boone. His mother was Jewish, the daughter of immigrants from Russia. Contrary to popular belief Boone was not closely related to Pat, Randy or Debbie Boone. Boone graduated from Hoover High School in Glendale, California. He attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, but left prior to graduation and tried his hand at oil-rigging, bartending, painting and writing before joining the United States Navy in 1941. He served on three ships in the Pacific during World War II, seeing combat as an aviation ordnanceman and gunner on TBM Avenger torpedo bombers.
After the war, he used the G.I. Bill to study acting at the Actors 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).
Elia Kazan used Boone to feed lines to an actress for a screen test for 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 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. When he was ordered to appear in another film for Fox made at the same time as The Robe, he ended his contract with the studio.
During the filming of Halls of Montezuma he befriended Jack Webb, who was then producing and starring in Dragnet. The writer of Dragnet was preparing a series about a doctor for NBC. From 1954 to 1956, Boone became a familiar face in the lead role of that medical drama, Medic, receiving an Emmy nomination for Best Actor Starring in a Regular Series in 1955. While on Medic, he also 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 intelligent and sophisticated, but tough gun for hire in the late 19th century American west. The show was first offered to Randolph Scott, who turned it down but gave the script to Boone while they 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.
He 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 an occasional 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 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 aired only 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 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, offered him the role of Steve McGarrett; Boone turned it down, however, and the role went to Jack Lord, who shared Boone's enthusiasm, which Freeman considered vital. Coincidentally, Jack Lord had appeared with Boone in the first episode of Have Gun – Will Travel, entitled "Three Bells to Perdido." Boone at that time had shot a pilot for CBS called Kona Coast, that he hoped CBS would adopt as a series, but they went instead with Hawaii Five-0.
The six-foot-one-inch (1.85-m) Boone 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 Schaffner), Hombre (1967 Martin Ritt), The Arrangement (1969 Elia Kazan), The Kremlin Letter (1970 John Huston), Big Jake (1971 Michael Wayne), and The Shootist (1976 Don Siegel).
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. Now older Ramsey is the Deputy Chief of Police of a small Oklahoma city. He is still a skilled shooter carrying a short barreled Colt Single Action Army revolver. But Ramsey had embraced the science of criminal forensics and was a skilled criminalist using science to solve crimes. He once wryly noted to an interviewer in 1972, "You know, Hec Ramsey is a lot like Paladin, only fatter." Boone returned to The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, where he had once studied acting, to teach it in the mid 1970s.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Boone assisted the Israeli film industry, at its inception. He appeared in the first Israeli film set outside Israel, the Western Madron (1970), set in the American West in the 1800s. In 1979, he received an award from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, for his contribution to Israeli cinema.
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.
Boone was also the voice actor for the mighty dragon Smaug in the 1977 animated film of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit". His voice acting in this role was very powerful and well received.
In his youth, Boone attended the San Diego Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California, near Oceanside. It was there that Boone was introduced to theatre under the tutelage of Virginia Atkinson, who spawned theatre interest in many who eventually found their way to Hollywood. Robert Walker (actor), another Academy graduate and member of the school’s theatre club, Masque & Wig, became a close acquaintance of Boone's.
Boone was married three times: to Jane Hopper (1937–1940), Mimi Kelly (1949–1950), and Claire McAloon (1951–81 (his death)).
Boone's son with Claire McAloon, Peter, worked as a child actor in several of his father's Have Gun-Will Travel television shows. He resides in Virginia.
Boone moved to St. Augustine, Florida, from Hawaii in 1970 and worked with the production of Cross and Sword, when 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 1972–1973. In his final role, Boone played Commodore Matthew Perry in Bushido Blade. He died soon afterward in St. Augustine of pneumonia while suffering from throat cancer. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii.