Here’s What Happened to Richard Boone Before, During and After Playing Paladin in ‘Have Gun, Will Travel’

The 1950s are generally considered the Golden Age of Classic TV, and the fledgling medium did indeed produce some impressive pieces of drama and sitcoms in that period. But even then there were those making a living in TV who could already sense that its full potential was not being met. One of them was actor Richard Boone, who from 1957 to 1963 captured the imagination of viewers with his portrayal of Paladin in the Western Have Gun, Will Travel.

“There is no question that most television is a waste of time,” Boone opined to The Hanford Sentinel in 1960. “The people connected with it realize how bad programming is and go ahead with their shows as cynically as possible. Producers are turning out programs that literally make me sick. TV seems to re-infect itself each year, using the same approach to shows and making them worse each season. Unless television changes its attitude, people are going to walk away from it just as they did motion pictures.”

richard-boone-portrait
NBC

And this was from a guy whose show was both a critical and audience favorite (and which he himself was genuinely proud of), yet it perfectly encapsulates a driving force behind Boone, whose push for quality — and frustration over the fact that it was so much harder to achieve than it should have been — was something that motivated him throughout his life.

He was born Richard Allen Boone on June 18, 1917, in Los Angeles. Intent on becoming a painter, he attended Stanford University, the Los Angeles Art Students’ League and the Chouinard Art Institute in California. Part of the reason he left Stanford was chronicled in the Valley Times of North Hollywood in 1951:

“Seems that he and his fraternity brothers, having managed to acquire a dummy, decided on a practical joke. They telephoned a friend in another fraternity house and asked him to drive over right away — something important had come up. Then they took the dummy and hid in the shrubbery bordering the street a block or so away from their house. When they saw a car approaching (the same make as their friend’s), they pushed the dummy into the street, where it was hit and run over. To their consternation, the driver of the car proved to be Mrs. Herbert Hoover, and when she leaped out of the car, horrified by the thought that she had killed a pedestrian, she fell and sprained her ankle. University authorities, after an investigation, decided that the authors of the joke were wasting their flair for showmanship as Stanford students.”

Ouch.

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