Saturday, February 12, 2011

Victor French who played Mr. Edwards on the TV show Little House on the Prairie

Victor French was born December 4, 1934 in Santa Barbara, California.  He was most famous for playing the role of Mr. Isaiah Edwards on the TV show Little House on the Prairie co-starring with Michael Landon.  He was also well known for starring in another series of Landon's, Highway to Heaven where French portrayed police officer Mark Gordon.


Victor French played Isaiah Edwards on the TV show Little House on the Prairie

French actually began his show business career as a stuntman.  He got his acting debut in a 1955 episode of TV Reader's Digest: Human Nature Through a Rear View Mirror co-starring Eddie Albert, William Henry and Jil Jarmyn.  Five years later he made his uncredited film debut in The Magnificent Seven co-starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Jorge MartĂ­nez de Hoyos, Horst Buchholz, and Rosenda Monteros.

Victor would go on to appear in the series Two Faces West starring Charles Bateman, Joyce Meadows and Francis De Sales (1961); and Hazel starring Shirley Booth, Bobby Buntrock, Whitney Blake, and Don DeFore (1961).




In 1961 French would get his first credited film role in The Clown and the Kid John Lupton, Michael McGreevey, Don Keefer, Mary Adams, and Mary Webster.  He would go on to star in The Quick and the Dead with Larry D. Mann, Jon Cedar, James Almanzar, Louis Massad, and Majel Barrett (1963); Hawaiian Eye starring Connie Stevens, Robert Conrad and Poncie Ponce (1963); The Dakotas starring Larry Ward, Jack Elam and Chad Everett (1963); 77 Sunset Strip starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Roger Smith and Edd Byrnes (1963); Spencer's Mountain co-starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara and James MacArthur (1963); Temple Houston starring Jeffrey Hunter, Jack Elam and James Anderson (1963); Kraft Suspense Theatre: A Hero for Our Times co-starring Tom Allen, William Bramley, Geraldine Brooks, Lloyd Bridges, and Sandra Church (1963); The Virginian starring James Drury, Doug McClure and Lee J. Cobb (2 episodes (1962-64); and No Time for Sergeants starring Sammy Jackson and Harry Hickox (1964).




Victor rounded out the 1960s appearing in Hogan's Heroes starring Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, Richard Dawson, John Banner, Larry Hovis, Robert Clary, and Ivan Dixon (1965); Mister Ed starring Allan Lane, Alan Young and Connie Hines (1965); The Wild Wild West starring Robert Conrad, Ross Martin and Dick Cangey (1965); Rawhide starring Clint Eastwood, Paul Brinegar and Steve Raines (1965); Slattery's People starring Richard Crenna, Robert Stevenson and Tol Avery (1965); and Dr. Kildare starring Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey (1965).



Victor French as Agent 44 in the TV show Get Smart 1965

In 1965, French would get a recurring role as Agent 44 in Get Smart co-starring Don Adams, Barbara Feldon and Edward Platt.  He would play the role for seven episodes over two years.

During his time on Get Smart, Victor also appeared in My Favorite Martian starring Ray Walston, Bill Bixby and Pamela Britton (1965); Batman starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Anne Baxter, and Alan Napier (1966); Death Valley Days starring John Alderson and Tristram Coffin (1966); and Lassie starring Jon Provost and June Lockhart (2 episodes, 1965-66).




After Get Smart, French would appear in the show Branded starring Chuck Connors, Lola Albright and John Carradine in 1966.  He would then also in 1966, land the role of Fred Gilman in the series The Hero co-starring Richard Mulligan, Mariette Hartley, and Marc London.  He played the role for 10 episodes.

After The Hero, Victor went on to appear in movies and shows such as Tarzan starring Ron Ely, Jill Donohue and Gene Evans (1967); F Troop starring Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch and Ken Berry (1967); The Iron Horse starring Dale Robertson, Gary Collins and Ellen Burstyn (1967); Captain Nice starring William Daniels, Alice Ghostley, Ann Prentiss, and Pat Harrington Jr. (1967); The Beverly Hillbillies starring Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan and Donna Douglas; Cimarron Strip starring Stuart Whitman, Percy Herbert, Randy Boone, and Suzanne Pleshette (1967); The Danny Thomas Hour starring Danny Thomas with Red Buttons and Byron Foulger (1967); Gentle Ben starring Dennis Weaver, Clint Howard and Beth Brickell (1968); Charro! starring Elvis Presley, Ina Balin, and Barbara Werle (1969); Lancer starring James Stacy, Wayne Maunder, Elizabeth Baur, Ron Howard, and Andrew Duggan (1969); and Death of a Gunfighter starring Richard Widmark, Lena Horne, Carroll O'Connor, Jacqueline Scott, and Michael McGreevey (1969).



Victor French and Anthony Quinn in Flap 1970

In 1970, French starred in Cutter's Trail with John Gavin, Manuel Padilla Jr., Marisa Pavan, Joseph Cotten, and Beverly Garland.  He also appeared in several episodes of Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker, Patricia Blair and Darby Hinton that same year.  Victor continued on starring in There Was a Crooked Man... with Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Lee Grant,  Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, John Randolph, Burgess Meredith, and Alan Hale Jr. (1970); Flap co-starring Anthony Quinn, Claude Akins, Shelley Winters, Tony Bill, and Victor Jory (1970); Dan August starring Burt Reynolds, Richard Anderson and Norman Fell (1970); Rio Lobo starring John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jack Elam, Jennifer O'Neill, Jim Davis, Christopher Mitchum, Sherry Lansing, and Susana Dosamantes (1970).


John Wayne and Victor French in the film Rio Lobo 1970


Victor appeared in many episodes of
Bonanza from 1962 to 1971.  He co-starred with Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright), Dan Blocker ('Hoss' Cartwright), Michael Landon ('Little Joe' Cartwright), and Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright). French also was a regular on another western series, Gunsmoke, from 1966 to 1975 playing in various roles. He guest starred with James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis, also featuring Lyle Waggoner, Joe Don Baker, Robert F. Lyons, Milburn Stone, Buck Taylor, Peggy Rea, Harry Carey Jr., Fionnula Flanagan, Harry Morgan, Richard Dreyfuss, Karen Grassle, Jimmy McNichol, Ned Beatty, Jim Backus, Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Learned of The Waltons fame.


Victor French and James Arness in an episode of the TV show Gunsmoke

French also starred in Wild Rovers co-starring William Holden, Ryan O'Neal, Karl Malden, Joe Don Baker, Tom Skerritt, and Moses Gunn (1971); Longstreet starring James Franciscus, Marlyn Mason, Tyne Daly, and Peter Mark Richman (1971); Mission: Impossible starring Peter Graves, Peter Lupus, Greg Morris, Barbara Bain, and Martin Landau (1971); O'Hara, U.S. Treasury co-starring David Janssen and Marion Ross (1971); The Other co-starring Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur and Chris Udvarnoky (1972);  Chato's Land co-starring Charles Bronson, Jack Palance, Ralph Waite, and James Whitmore (1972); The Streets of San Francisco starring Karl Malden, Michael Douglas and Nicholas Colasanto (1973); Kung Fu starring David Carradine, Radames Pera and Keye Luke (1973); The Rookies starring Georg Stanford Brown, Sam Melville, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Michael Ontkean, and Kate Jackson (1973); and The F.B.I. starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Philip Abbott and Marvin Miller (1973).

Victor French then

Victor appeared in Mannix starring Mike Connors, Gail Fisher and Ward Wood (1974); The Waltons starring Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, Will Geer, Ellen Corby, Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott, Judy Norton-Taylor, David W. Harper, Kami Cotler, Joe Conley, Ronnie Claire Edwards, and
Peggy Rea (1974); The Nickel Ride co-starring Jason Miller, Linda Haynes, Bo Hopkins, and Richard Evans (1974); French landed the leading role in The House on Skull Mountain co-starring Janee Michelle and Jean Durand (1974); and another leading role The Tribe co-starring Warren Vanders, Henry Wilcoxon, and Mark Gruner (1974).

It was in 1974 that Victor French first appeared in the TV show Little House on the Prairie as Isaiah Edwards or "Mr. Edwards" to the Ingalls sisters.  He co-starred with Michael Landon (Charles Ingalls), Mellissa Sue Gilbert (Laura Ingalls),  Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls), Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush (Carrie Ingalls), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Victor French (Isaiah Edwards), and Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey).  The show ran from 1974 to 1983. French made a few appearances until 1977 intermixed with a few appearances on Gunsmoke as well as directing many episodes of that show.  He then in 1977 left Little House to star in his own show, Carter Country as Chief Roy Mobey.  He co-starred in that show with Kene Holliday (Sergeant Curtis Baker), Guich Koock (Deputy Harley Puckett), Richard Paul (Mayor Teddy Burnside), Barbara Cason (Cloris Phebus), Harvey Vernon (Deputy Jasper DeWitt, Jr.), and Vernee Watson-Johnson (Lucille Banks).  Carter Country lasted for 44 episodes and ended in 1979.



Victor French (Mr. Edwards), Melissa Sue Gilbert (Laura Ingalls), Sidney and Lindsay Greenbush (Carrie Ingalls) from the TV show Little House on the Prairie
Victor French played Isaiah Edwards on the TV show Little House on the Prairie
Amzie Strickland and Victor French in the TV show Carter Country

After Carter Country ended, French returned to Little House on the Prairie and his character Isaiah Edwards appeared regularly on the show until it ended in 1983.  During his time on "Little House" and Carter Country, Victor also appeared in Petrocelli starring Barry Newman, Susan Howard, Albert Salmi, and Dabney Coleman (1976); Sara starring Larry Ward and Richard Yniguez (1976); and Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill co-starring Candy Clark, Don Johnson, Louise Latham, Jamie Farr, Tanya Tucker, Sheree North, Ed Begley Jr., and Rick Hurst (1979).



Victor French played Isaiah Edwards on the TV show Little House on the Prairie
Victor French, (Isaiah Edwards), Matthew Laborteaux (Albert Quinn Ingalls), Michael Landon (Charles Ingalls), Dean Butler (Almanzo James Wilder) and Melissa Sue Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder) of the TV show Little House on the Prairie

French also starred in Riding for the Pony Express with John Hammond, Harry Crosby, Glenn Withrow, Richard Lineback, Susan Myers, and Philip Baker Hall (1980); The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story co-starring Stephanie Zimbalist, David Keith, Richard Lawson, Merlin Olsen, Ed McMahon, Nancy Marchand, James Earl Jones, and Jack Palance (1980); The Ghosts of Buxley Hall co-starring Dick O'Neill, Louise Latham, and Ruta Lee (1980); Choices co-starring Paul Carafotes, Lelia Goldoni, Demi Moore, Val Avery, William R. Moses, and Stephen Nichols (1981); The Cherokee Trail co-starring Cindy Pickett, Mary Larkin, Timothy Scott, David Hayward, Richard Farnsworth, and Tina Yothers (1981); and An Officer and a Gentleman co-starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger, David Keith, Louis Gossett Jr., Robert Loggia, Lisa Blount, and Lisa Eilbacher (1982).  Towards the end of the Little House on the Prairie years, Victor also directed many episodes of the show.



Victor French in the film An Officer and a Gentleman 1982

After his run on Little House on the Prairie, French directed and starred in the TV movie Little House: Look Back to Yesterday starring Melissa Gilbert, Dean Butler, Victor French, Richard Bull, Jonathan Gilbert, Allison Balson, Kevin Hagen, Shannen Doherty, and Leslie Landon (1983).

In 1984, French starred in another series of Michael Landon's, Highway to Heaven as police officer Mark Gordon.  He played the role until the show ended in 1989.


Victor French in his later years


Michael Landon and Victor French of the TV show Highway to Heaven

During his time on Highway to Heaven, Victor also starred in Little House: The Last Farewell co-starring Melissa Gilbert, Dean Butler, Michael Landon, Richard Bull, Jonathan Gilbert, Allison Balson, Kevin Hagen, Karen Grassle, Shannen Doherty, and Leslie Landon (1984); Fame starring Phoebe Yadon-Lewis, David Greenlee, Michael DeLorenzo, and Ami Foster (1984); and he directed and starred in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children co-starring Melissa Gilbert, Dean Butler, Richard Bull, Allison Balson, Shannen Doherty, Leslie Landon, and Robert Casper (1984).


Victor French in 1985
Victor French on the set of Highway to Heaven in 1988

Highway to Heaven would be the last acting role that Victor French had.  He was diagnosed with severe lung cancer in April 1989 and died a few months later.  He was 54 years old.




6 comments:

  1. Such a shame, I truely loved Victor French and miss him to this day

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  2. Great Actor! He's deeply missed.

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  3. I loved him. He died way too young.

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  4. Love and miss him. Watch him every day on INSP and Hallmark on Little House. Such a wonderful actor .

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  5. 54 young ???? grant it if he had lead a healthy life style there would be hardly any reason why he could not have lived another 25-30 years

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  6. So sad... he was a chain smoker and that's what killed him and Michael Landon.

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