Paul Richards (November 23, 1924 – December 10, 1974) was an American actor who appeared in films and on television in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He was sometimes billed as Paul E. Richards.
A native of Hollywood, Richards earned a psychology degree at University of California, Los Angeles and a master's degree in drama, also from UCLA. He gained additional acting experience at the Theatre Wing in New York.
He guest-starred in a number of classic television western series such as The Rifleman, Have Gun–Will Travel, Zorro, Johnny Ringo, The Rebel, Zane Grey Theatre, Black Saddle, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Untouchables,Trackdown, Rawhide, The Virginian, The Loner, and The Guns of Will Sonnett. Richards also performed four times as a guest star on Gunsmoke. In 1955, in that long-running CBS series' very first episode, “Matt Gets It,” he portrays a near-sighted gunfighter who outdraws and nearly kills Marshal Matt Dillon. The next year, in the episode “Mr. and Mrs. Amber”, he delivered another memorable performance playing a poor, desperate homesteader beleaguered by his rich, self-righteous brother-in-law. His other two appearances on Gunsmoke are in 1958 and 1968 episodes.
Richards guest-starred three times in 1956 on the NBC western anthology series Frontier, having portrayed Louis Rose in "The Texicans", John Webb in "The Big Dry", and Will Shaw in "The Salt War". He guest-starred in Brian Keith's first series, Crusader, a Cold War drama. Richards appeared twice on the ABC and later syndicated western series Tombstone Territory, starring Pat Conway and Richard Eastham, in the episodes "Thicker than Water" (1958) and "The Noose That Broke" (1959). Richards was cast as Bret Younger in the episode "The Desperado" (1957) on the ABC western series Broken Arrow.
He also appeared in the syndicated series, Sheriff of Cochise, a crime drama starring John Bromfield set in Arizona, and The Silent Service, a drama based on true stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy. He was a guest star on Kenneth Tobey's Whirlybirds, a syndicated aviation adventure series. He appeared on three other syndicated crime dramas, Sheriff of Cochise and U.S. Marshal, both starring John Bromfield, and The Brothers Brannagan, with Stephen Dunne and Mark Roberts. He made guest appearances on the ABC adventure series, Straightaway, and on NBC's Dragnet, starring Jack Webb. In the 1955 episode, "The Big Bird," Richards played Phil Baurch, who stole from people's homes after being hired out to do yard work, and he killed pet birds.
In 1959, he appeared in a five-part episode entitled "Louie K" in the role of Louis "Louie" Kassoff in NBC's 1920s crime drama The Lawless Years with James Gregory. Over the years, Richards guest starred in many television series, including NBC's Dan Raven, a crime drama starring Skip Homeier, and CBS's anthology series The Lloyd Bridges Show as "Doc" in the 1962 episode, "Testing Ground". He made two guest appearances on Perry Mason. In 1959 he played murderer Earl Mauldin in "The Case of the Startled Stallion," then he played defendant Ted Chase in the 1962 episode, "The Case of the Melancholy Marksman" (in 1973 Richards played Jules Barron in The New Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Cagey Cager"). In the summer of 1960, he was cast in an episode of David McLean's NBC western series, Tate. In 1962, he portrayed the part of Vance Caldwell in the episode "The Boss's Daughters" on CBS's Rawhide.
He starred as Dr. McKinley Thompson in the 1963-1964 medical drama Breaking Point, set in a hospital psychiatric ward. His co-star was Eduard Franz. He appeared with Roy Thinnes in the 1964 episode "Murder by Scandal" of the CBS drama The Reporter starring Harry Guardino. He appeared in a 1964 episode of The Fugitive entitled "A.P.B." as an escaped convict opposite David Janssen's Dr. Richard Kimble. Richards' portrayal of an amoral killer with a refined intellect was an especially compelling performance in that popular drama's legendary run. He later appeared as a villainous lawyer in a 1968 episode of Hawaii Five-O, called "Twenty-Four Karat Kill".
Richards guest starred in a number of popular 1960s and 1970s television series, including Burke's Law, I Spy, Mannix, Banacek, McMillan and Wife, and three appearances on The Mod Squad between 1969 and 1972. Richards appeared primarily in dramas, but made turns into comedy as well, appearing in "The Town Tamer" episode of Tim Conway's 1967 western sitcom Rango, and in a 1969 episode of Get Smart as a villain named Ironhand who had assumed leadership of KAOS, but whose reign was shortlived as Maxwell Smart thwarted his plans.
He appeared as the mutant leader Mendez in the 1970 apocalyptic science-fiction film Beneath the Planet of the Apes. One of his minor film roles was a prisoner in Demetrius and the Gladiators, a sequel to 20th Century Fox's biblical epic The Robe.
For several years, Richards served as the commercial pitchman for General Motors' now-defunct Pontiac Division, doing commercials for several of their cars, including the GTO and Firebird. He was a commercial spokesman for Braniff Airways in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, he was also a commercial spokesman for the American Express card and travelers' checks.
In 1953, Richards married actress Monica Keating (July 20, 1924 – September 10, 1985).
After dying from cancer at the age of 50, Richards was entombed in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery near Moe Howard.
- Fixed Bayonets! (1951) - Ramirez (uncredited)
- War Paint (1953) - Trooper Perkins
- Hell and High Water (1954) - Prisoner (uncredited)
- Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954) - Rene the Knife-thrower
- Playgirl (1954) - Wilbur
- Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) - Prisoner (uncredited)
- Pushover (1954) - Harry Wheeler (uncredited)
- The Silver Chalice (1954) - Tigellinus (uncredited)
- Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Attacker
- Tall Man Riding (1955) - The Peso Kid
- The Houston Story (1956) - Gordon Shay
- Tension at Table Rock (1956) - Sam Murdock
- Scandal Incorporated (1956) - Martin Ellis
- The Black Whip (1956) - John Murdock
- Hot Summer Night (1957) - Elly Horn
- Monkey on My Back (1957) - Rico
- The Unknown Terror (1957) - Peter Morgan
- Blood Arrow (1958) - Brill
- Four Fast Guns (1960) - Hoag
- All the Young Men (1960) - Pvt. Bracken
- Savage Justice (1967) - Rob MacRoy
- The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) - Charles Fischetti
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - Mendez
- Triangle (1970) - Dr. Victor Enfield
- I Escaped from Devil's Island (1973) - Maj. Marteau