Richard Boone, aka Paladin: Have Gun Will Travel was born Richard Allen Boone (June 17, 1917 — January 10, 1981). He was the middle child to Cecile (Beckerman) and Kirk E. Boone, a prominent corporate lawyer.
Richard attended Stanford Univerity in Palo Alto, CA but left prior to graduation. He took up oil-rigging, bartending, painting and writing before enlisting in the Navy in 1941. He served on three ships in the Pacific during WWII. He saw combat as an aviation ordnanceman and gunner on TBM Avenger torpedo bombers.
Richard starred in over 50 films and was best known for his portrayal of Paladin in the hugely popular western series Have Gun will Travel.
After the war, using the GI Bill, he studied acting at the Actors Studio in NYC. He was considered “serious and methodical” in his acting and debuted on Broadway in 1947 in the play Medea. He was also in Macbeth (1948) and The Man (1950).
Elia Kazan used Richard to feed lines to an actress for a screen test for film director, Lewis Milestone. Milestone was not impressed with the actress but was extremely impressed with Richard Boone’s voice. Richard was given a 7-year contract with Fox.
During the filming of Halls of Montezuma, he befriended Jack Webb, who was producing and starring in Dragnet. The writer of Dragnet was preparing a medical drama “Medic”. Richard became known for his leading role and received an Emmy nomination for Best Actor Starring in a Regular Series in 1955.
In 1957, he became a national star with his role as Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel. Originally, the role was offered to Randolph Scott who turned it down. He in turn gave the script to Richard while they were making the film Ten Wanted Men.
Have Gun Will Travel ran from 1957 to 1963 with Richard receiving two more Emmy nominations in 1959 and 1960.
After approximately 14 more movies in which he typically played the villain, he starred in the short-lived TV series Hec Ramsey. Ramsey was a turn-of-the-century Western style detective who preferred using his brain over brawn.
In an interview with Richard, he said: “You know, Hec Ramsey is a lot like Paladin, only fatter.”
He returned to the Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC, where he once studied acting, only this time to teach in the mid 70s.
He lived in Hawaii from Approximately 1964 until he moved to St Augustine, FL in 1970 where he worked with the production of Cross and Sword, when he was not acting ,and continued to until his death in 1981.
His final role was Commodore Matthew Perry in Bushido Blade. Shortly thereafter he passed away from pneumonia while suffering from throat cancer. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii.
A Bit of Trivia:
Richard’s Cousin was Pat Boone who was the father of Debby Boone and Randy Boone’s Uncle was Richard Boone.
“He was a heroic figure and a hero. He stood up for causes when they weren’t popular at all and he never hesitated to stand up and get counted, he was that kind of a person.”
- Regarding John Wayne.
Another great actor from the Greatest Generation who left his mark on the sands of time.