Giving overdue credit to character actor Richard Deacon

Uncredited. What a perfect word to succinctly sum up the career of character actor Richard Deacon.

Not only is his impressively extensive resume filled with “uncredited” roles, Deacon also never received the credit due from his long body of work that included roles on some of the best-loved classic TV series including the iconic “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

Although he had a lengthy career, Richard Deacon is best known as part of the great cast in “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It starred, from left, Morey Amsterdam, Deacon, Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie and Mary Tyler Moore.

Instead, he’s typecast in our memories as a striking visual: tall (6-1), bald, bespectacled. Yet even when he’s in the background in one of those uncredited roles, Richard Deacon stands out.

Deacon deserves our respect and attention and that’s why I chose to write about him for the 9th annual “What a Character” blogathon hosted by Aurora of Once Upon a Screen, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club. You can read all of the other entries by going to those blo

Deacon’s first film role was as an MP in the sci-fi yarn “Invaders from Mars.” That was 1953 and over the next seven years he would be in at least 40 movies of various genres (and on as many TV shows). Most roles were “uncredited” so you won’t find him in the credits, and often his character is referred to generically like desk clerk, salesman, hotel manager, pawn broker, banker.

Let’s think about those just those seven years to get a full appreciation for Deacon and his remarkable perseverance. He must have had a strong lack of ego and, I would bet, a deep passion for his craft to work so hard, for so long without being labeled “a star.”

10 thoughts on “Giving overdue credit to character actor Richard Deacon”

    1. Thank you for reading. To be honest, I didn’t know how prolific his career was either until I began to research him. That’s what I love about the What a Character blogathon.


  1. My favorite appearance by Richard Deacon was in a classic episode of The Untouchables: “The Unhired Assassin”, about an attempt by Frank Nitti and the Mob to kill Mayor Cermak of Chicago.
    Deacon’s character was a real person: Bill Skidmore, a fixer who was very tied in to Nitti’s councils.
    No glasses, pencil mustache, always filing his nails, and sort of superior to the gangsters at the table; at one point, Skidmore/Deacon tells Nitti not to take direct action against Cermak and Eliot Ness, or ” … the bluebellies will come in and shut this shop down, and we’ll all have to go and live with Al Capone!”
    This was 1960, when Deacon was already Fred Rutherford, and a year before he became Mel Cooley.
    (For the record, the other gangsters included Bruce Gordon as Nitti, Frank DeKova as his #2, and a (sort of) young Lee Van Cleef as a top gunman – quite unforgettable, I thought.)
    I was but a kid at the time, and I watched as much TV as any other kid my age, so I was able to spot Richard Deacon among the Nitti gang –
    – but I was already becoming a character actor fan (taking after my dad in this respect), and I was impressed, so there too.


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