Jeff Richards - Biography

Jeff Richards, born Richard Mansfield Taylor in Portland, Oregon, was a graduate of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington. Upon graduation he was ready to embark on a career in professional baseball when he entered the Navy in June of 1943. During World War II, he served as a radio technician until his discharge in 1946.

After the war, he returned to baseball and immediately signed on with the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. The Beavers farmed Jeff to the Salem Senators, but fate intervened and a torn ligament forced him into an extended leave-of-absence from the sport.

While recuperating, Jeff decided to try his hand at acting. During the war, he and a group of his fellow servicemen visited Paramount Movie Studios. While there a talent scout spotted Jeff in the crowd, called him aside, and told him to come and see him when he got his discharge. The agent remembered him and setup a screen test. Jeff was signed to a contract and his first movie role was as a baseball player in Kill the Umpire (1950) with William Bendix.

After his time with Paramount, he was offered a contract by Warner Brothers Studios. In the meantime, however, Jeff was still playing baseball. At the same time the offer from Warner came through he was also receiving offers from both the New York Yankees and the Dodgers, then still playing in Brooklyn. Jeff had the chance to make choice that many American boys dreamed of making--whether to be movie star or a professional baseball player.

Jeff signed with the contract with Warner and then enrolled at the University of Southern California to pursue a degree in business administration. Jeff attended USC on a full-time schedule and also joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Jeff organized a chapter five-piece band and played fraternity dances and club socials. He was still playing baseball, but his decision had been made--he was going to be an actor.

Signing with MGM in 1950, Jeff was a member of MGM's Lucky Dozen--a group of young and upcoming stars of the 1950s. He was groomed for the rugged, John Wayne-type roles and the two actors has much in common-both were big men, athletically inclined, had similar personalities, and they were both members of Sigma Chi.

During the course of his film career, Jeff acted in over 40 films, playing with some of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 1960s. Arguably, his most significant role was a one of the Pontipee brothers in 1954's _Seven Brides for Seven Brothers_ acting with Howard Keel, Jane Powell, and Julie Newmar. His last film role was in 1966 as Kallen in the film La loi des hors-la-loi (1966).

Jeff Richards died on July 28, 1989.