BOONE, RICHARD (1917–1981). U.S. actor. Born in Los Angeles, Boone was the son of a successful corporate lawyer. He attended Stanford University but left before he graduated. He dabbled in painting, writing, boxing, and working in an oil field before enlisting in the U.S. Navy as an aerial gunner (1941–45). After the war, he used the g.i. Bill to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actor's Studio in New York. He also studied movement with Martha Graham. Boone debuted on Broadway in Judith Anderson's Medea. He made his motion picture debut in 1951 in The Halls of Montezuma and from then appeared in more than 30 films, including The Robe (1953), Dragnet (1954), Lizzie (1957), The Alamo (1960), Thunder of Drums (1961), Rio Conchos (1964), The War Lords (1965), Hombre (1967), The Arrangement (1969), Madron (1970), Big Jake (1971), The Shootist (1976), The Big Sleep (1978), Winter Kills (1979), and The Bushido Blade (1981).
Boone's name became a household word in the U.S. because of his starring roles on television in such series as Medic (1954–56); the popular western series Have Gun Will Travel (1957–63); and The Richard Boone Show (1963–64), which won a Golden Globe in 1964 for Best Television Series. A major force on Have Gun Will Travel, Boone directed 27 episodes and had final approval on scripts, guest stars, and costumes. He also co-wrote the show's enduring theme song "The Ballad of Paladin," which became a hit on the pop charts. In its successful run, the show ranked in the top five programs for most of its six years. Boone was a three-time winner of the American Television Critics award for Best Actor and was a five-time Emmy nominee for his performances in each of his television series. Boone moved to Hawaii in 1964 and then to Florida in 1971. In 1972 he began commuting to Hollywood to star in the tv western series Hec Ramsey, produced by Jack Webb of Dragnet fame, until the show ended in 1974. In the mid-1970s Boone taught acting at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.
F.C. Robertson, A Man Called Paladin (1963); D. Rothel, Richard Boone: A Knight without Armor in a Savage Land (2000).
[Jonathan Licht /
Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]