Jaeckel in the trailer for The Devil's Brigade (1968)
Richard Hanley Jaeckel
October 10, 1926
Long Beach, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 14, 1997 (aged 70)|
|Children||2, including Barry Jaeckel|
|Awards||1971 Academy Award Best Supporting Actor (nomination)|
Richard Hanley Jaeckel (October 10, 1926 – June 14, 1997) was an American actor of film and television. Jaeckel became a well-known character actor in his career, which spanned six decades. He received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role in the 1971 adaptation of Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion.
Jaeckel was born October 10, 1926, in Long Beach, New York, the son of Richard Jaeckel and Millicent Hanley. His father was active in the family's fur business, and his mother was a stage actress. His birth name was R Hanley Jaeckel, with only the initial rather than a first name. He attended The Harvey School and other private schools. The family lived in New York until 1934, when they moved to Los Angeles, where his father operated a branch of the family business. He graduated from Hollywood High School.
A short, tough man, Jaeckel played a variety of characters during his 50 years in films and television. Jaeckel got his start in the business at the age of seventeen while he was employed as a mailboy at 20th Century Fox studios in Hollywood. A casting director auditioned him for a role in the 1943 film Guadalcanal Diary; Jaeckel won the role and settled into a lengthy career in supporting parts.
He served in the United States Merchant Marine from 1944 to 1949, then starred in two of the most remembered war films of 1949: Battleground and Sands of Iwo Jima with John Wayne. One of Jaeckel's shortest film roles was in The Gunfighter, in which his character is killed by Gregory Peck's character in the opening scene. He played the role of Turk, the roomer's boyfriend, in the Academy Award-winning 1952 film Come Back, Little Sheba, with Shirley Booth, Burt Lancaster, and Terry Moore. In 1960, he appeared as Angus Pierce in the western, Flaming Star, starring Elvis Presley. He played Lee Marvin's able second-in-command, Sgt. Bowren, in the 1967 film The Dirty Dozen for director Robert Aldrich, and reprised the role in the 1985 sequel, The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission. Jaeckel appeared in several other Aldrich films, including Attack (1956), Ulzana's Raid (1972), and Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977).
Jaeckel also guest-starred in many television programs. He was cast as a boxer in a 1954 episode of Reed Hadley's CBS legal drama, The Public Defender. Also in 1954, Jaeckel portrayed Billy the Kid in an episode of the syndicated western anthology series, Stories of the Century, with Jim Davis as the fictitious Southwest Railroad detective Matt Clark.
Seven years later, Jaeckel played the character Denver in episode "The Grudge Fight" of the NBC western series The Tall Man, opposite Barry Sullivan as Pat Garrett and Clu Gulager as Billy the Kid, a fictionalized account of the friendship between Garrett and the Kid. In the storyline, Denver and Billy are thrown out of Lincoln, for persistent brawling and decide to settle their dispute in a shootout in a remote mountainous area. Garrett vows to see the survivor of the match hanged if the other dies. During their journey, the two decide they have much in common, as Billy nurses Denver back to health after Denver breaks a leg.
In 1957, he appeared as Mort Claffey in two episodes, "Paratroop Padre" and "The Light," of the syndicated religion anthology series, Crossroads. That same year, he portrayed Lieutenant Bradshaw in episode "War of the Whale Boats" of the military drama, Navy Log. In 1956 and 1957, he appeared in three episodes of another military drama, The West Point Story.
In 1955 and 1958, Jaeckel appeared in different roles on two episodes of CBS's fantasy drama The Millionaire. In 1958, Jaeckel guest-starred as Webb Martin in the episode "The Bloodline" of NBC's western series Cimarron City. That same year, he appeared in the syndicated drama of the American Civil War, Gray Ghost in the episode entitled "The Hero". In 1959, Jaeckel was cast as Clint Gleason in episode "The Man Behind the Star" of CBS's The Texan western series, starring Rory Calhoun.
In 1963, Jaeckel played Willie the murderer in "The Case of the Lover's Leap" on CBS's Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr. That same year he was among the guest stars on the short-lived ABC/Warner Brothers western series, The Dakotas. Also in 1963, Jaeckel, speaking in German, played the role of Wehrmacht Sgt. Buxman in the Combat! TV series episode "Gideon's Army." In 1964, Jaeckel appeared in as Mitch Devlin in an episode of Bonanza, ?Between Heaven and Earth?. He guest starred once again in the western series 3 years later as Dibbs in the episode "Night of Reckoning".
In 1966, Jaeckel made a second guest appearance on Perry Mason as Mike Woods in the episode "The Case of the Bogus Buccaneers." That same year he also co-starred as Christopher Cable in an episode - "The Night of the Grand Emir" - of The Wild Wild West.
Jaeckel's most famous film appearances of the 1950s are in 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and The Naked and the Dead (1958). His film career achieved its greatest success in the period 1967 to 1975, in such features as The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Devil's Brigade (1968), Chisum (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Ulzana's Raid (1972), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), The Outfit (1973), The Drowning Pool (1975), and Walking Tall Part 2 (1975). "Chisum" was a John Wayne vehicle in which Jaeckel, Christopher George and Andrew Prine all co-starred in prominent supporting roles. The three would re-team six years later in Grizzly (1976) (an amiable "Jaws" ripoff reset in the forest), and Jaeckel and George would team again in another "nature strikes back" story, Day of the Animals (1977).
In 1976 he starred in a low-budget B movie called Mako: The Jaws of Death. In it he plays a man who kills people who harm sharks, as he is a shark lover ever since they saved him from a gang of murderers. His character has a magical medallion to protect him from sharks when he swims among them. The movie's point about animal cruelty was undermined, however, by its not having a special effects budget, so the producers killed real sharks in its filming.
In 1977, Jaeckel appeared with Donna Mills, Bill Bixby, and William Shatner in the last episode, entitled "The Scarlet Ribbon", of NBC's western series The Oregon Trail, starring Rod Taylor and Andrew Stevens. The following year he played Sergeant Lykes in the epic TV miniseries Centennial.
In his later years, Jaeckel was known to television audiences as Lt. Ben Edwards on the NBC series Baywatch. He also co-starred on Robert Urich's ABC series Spenser: For Hire in the role of Lieutenant Martin Quirk.