This week’s character actor played the eldest Barkley child in “The Big Valley.” Richard Long’s personal life is another sad tale.
He was born on December 17, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois.
Like his TV mother, Richard’s best known for playing Jarrod Barkley on “The Big Valley.” The truth is, he played in other Westerns as a character actor, and appeared in several movies as you will soon see.
Richard was in the United States Army during the Korean War.
Richard Long was married twice. His first marriage was to actress Suzan Ball in April of 1954. By the way, Suzan was the cousin of Lucille Ball. They have a tragic story, that started back in 1953. While filming “East of Sumatra,” she sufferend an injury to her right leg while performing a dance number. Later that year, the doctors discovered tumors in her injured leg. After slipping on some water at home, she was rushed to the hospital where the doctors performed immediate surgery to remove her tumors. Sadly, however, the doctors announced that she would have to have her leg amputated in order to stop the cancer. Her surgery was performed on January 12, 1954. Just three months later, she and Richard got married.
But her sadness doesn’t stop there. She and Richard were married for about 15 months when she suddenly collapsed during rehearsal for an episode of “Climax!” She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors discovered her cancer had spread into her lungs. She died on August 5, 1955 – only 16 months after she and Richard married.
On January 26, 1957, Richard married his second wife, Mara Corday. They had 3 children: Carey, Gregory, and Valerie. They remained married until his death.
Richard lived to be only 47 years old. He died from multiple heart attacks just four days after his 47th birthday. He had had a history of cardiac problems throughout his adult life. He had a heart attack in the 1950’s. A childhood case of pneumonia weakened his heart. That with a history of heavy smoking and drinking extremely increased his chances of heart disease. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
Richard began showbiz right out of high school. At the age of 19, he appeared in his first movie: “Tomorrow is Forever” in 1946. (The entire movie is available to watch on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFMyaxKqDVc). He went on to appear and two other movies that year: “The Stranger” (The entire movie is available on You Tube) and “The Dark Mirror.”
In 1947, Richard played in only one movie: “The Egg and I.” This is the first of several of the “Ma and Pa” Kettle” movies he plays in. He plays Tom, one of the Kettle children. I’ve only seen clips of these, but they are very funny!
The other series movies he played in were:
Ma and Pa Kettle (1949)
Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950)
Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1951)
In 1948, Richard only appeared in one movie: “Tap Roots.”
Besides “Ma and Pa Kettle,” Richard played in two other movies in 1949:
The Life of Riley
He played in other movies throughout the 1950’s:
The Kansas Raiders (1950)
Air Cadet (1951)
Back at the Front (1952)
All I Desire (1953) – Richard played with Barbara Stanwyck in this movie.
The All American (1953)
Cult of the Cobra (1955)
Fury at Gunsight Pass (1956)
He Laughed Last
In 1954, Richard played in his first of many television episodes. By the end of the 1950’s, he would begin his Western television career:
Lux Video Theater (1954)
Screen Directos Playhouse (1955)
The United Steel Hour (2 episodes in 1954 and 1956)
TV Reader’s Digest (2 episodes in 1955 and 1956)
Schiltz Playhouse of Stars (1957)
Matinee Theatre (2 episodes in 1956 and 1957)
The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen (1958)
Alcoa Theater (1958)
Wagon Train (1958)
Have Gun – Will Travel (1957)
The Millionaire (1958)
Maverick (4 episodes in 1958 and 1959)
The 1960’s found Richard concentrating more on his television career and less on his movie career. He only played in 2 movies this decade:
Follow the Boys (1963)
Juokse Kuin Varas – Make Like a Thief (1964)
But he played in many television shows:
Bourbon Street Beat (31 episodes in 1959-1960)
Hawaiian Eye (1960)
Target: The Corruptors (1961)
Tales of Wells Fargo (1962)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1962)
Follow the Boys (1963)
Going My Way (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962)
77 Sunset Strip (26 episodes in 1963)
The Twilight Zone (2 episodes in 1962 and 1964)
Disneyland (3 episodes in 1964)
Kraft Suspense Theatre (1965)
In 1965, Richard Long was chosen to play Jarrod Barkley in “The Big Valley.” He was seen in a total of 112 episodes over the next three years. I’ve chosen to show a clip this week from the Big Valley that best represents Jarrod’s character. A special thanks to Margie for sharing this – her favorite Jarrod Barkley episode:
The Big Valley: Court Martial
After Big Valley ended, Jarrod continued to do some acting. In 1970, he appeared in an episode of “Love, American Style.” In 1971, he played in two different television shows. He played in the great television western, “Bonanza.” Then in 1971, he began his role as Professor Everett in “Nanny and the Professor,” playing a total of 54 episodes.
In 1973, Richard appeared in 9 episodes of “Thicker Than Water” as Ernie Paine. He was also seen in the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie in 3 episodes that year. In two of these episodes, he played Professor Harold Everett, and in one of them, he played Herman Munster!
The year Richard died, he played in two final movies:
“The Girl Who Came Gift-wrapped
Suspicion – Four O’Clock
There are 6 parts to this movie (the last 3 include Richard Long).
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