Richard Long (December 17, 1927 – December 21, 1974) was an American actor better known for his leading roles in three ABC television series, including The Big Valley, Nanny and the Professor, and Bourbon Street Beat.
Long was the fifth of six children born in Chicago, to Sherman D. Long, a commercial artist who operated his own studio, and Dale McCord Long. The family lived in several locations in Illinois before settling in Evanston. Long attended grammar school in Evanston, Waller High School in Chicago, and then the Evanston Township High School. In 1944, the family relocated to Hollywood, California, and Long attended Hollywood High School for his senior year. Long said that as a teenager he had "no intention of becoming an actor. I took senior drama class because it was a snap course, and I needed the credit for my English requirement".
At Hollywood High School, Long caught the eye of a talent scout from Universal-International by accident. Casting director Jack Murton gave a ride to a couple of students and asked them if a school play was scheduled. The boys told Murton about the excellent male lead actor, Richard Long.
In 1946, Long was hence cast in his first film, Tomorrow Is Forever as Drew, the son of Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles. The role had been unfilled for months, and producers selected Long who most closely matched the credentials required.
Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) and Gentleman Jack Darby in Maverick
Early in his career, Long appeared in several films as a juvenile lead, including four of the nine Ma and Pa Kettle pictures. He was cast as Tom Kettle, the eldest son of the characters played by Percy Kilbride and Marjorie Main. His second film was the Orson Welles's The Stranger as Noah, the brother of Loretta Young's character. He also played "Jeff Taylor" in The Life of Riley and played "Frank James" in the 1950 movie Kansas Raiders. He moved into leading man status in horror movies such as Cult of the Cobra (1954), and House on Haunted Hill (1959).
In 1963, Long was cast in the MGM romantic musical Follow the Boys, along with costars Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss, and Roger Perry.
He achieved considerable success on television, including the Warner Brothers detective series set in New Orleans, Bourbon Street Beat (1959–1960), with co-star Andrew Duggan. He appeared on episodes of Hey, Jeannie!, The Twilight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Tenderfoot (1964) for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.
Long played the recurring role of "Gentleman Jack Darby" in four episodes of the ABC/WB western series, Maverick beginning in 1958, including the most remembered "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" installment.
Long with the cast of Nanny and the Professor
In 1963, Long guest starred in the episode "Hear No Evil" of ABC's Going My Way, a drama series starring Gene Kelly about a Roman Catholic priest in New York City. That same year, he was cast as Eddie Breech in the episode "Blood Bargain" of CBS's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
In 1965, at the age of thirty-eight, Long began his role as attorney Jarrod Barkley, the oldest son to rancher Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck), in 112 episodes of The Big Valley, the last of the major Four Star Television series, a Western which ran on ABC from 1965–1969. The series was set in the 1870s. Long also directed several episodes of The Big Valley. In 1953, Long had costarred with Stanwyck in the film All I Desire.
In 1970–1971, he and Juliet Mills starred in the ABC sitcom Nanny and the Professor. Long played widowed college professor Harold Everett, and Mills was Phoebe Figalilly, the English housekeeper and nanny for Long's three children. In 1973 he starred alongside Julie Harris in the short-lived series, Thicker than Water. He finished a television movie called Death Cruise, which would be his last work before his death at age 47.
Long served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was twice married. His first wife, singer and actress Suzan Ball to whom he had been married for only fourteen months, died of cancer in 1955. In 1957, Long married actress and model Mara Corday, with whom he had three children: Carey (born 1957), Valerie (born 1958), and Gregory (born 1960). Long was a brother-in-law of actor Marshall Thompson, with whom he appeared in the 1955 film Cult of the Cobra.
Long had cardiac problems throughout his adult life and had suffered a heart attack in the late 1950s. As a boy, he had suffered pneumonia, which apparently weakened his heart. He was also a heavy smoker and drinker. After suffering several heart attacks, he died on December 21, 1974, at the age of forty-seven, at Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at sea.