Richard Deacon (actor)

Richard Deacon (May 14, 1921August 8, 1984), born in Philadelphia, was an American television and motion picture actor.


The bald and usually bespectacled character actor often portrayed imperious authority figures. He made appearances on The Jack Benny Show as a salesperson. He had a brief role in Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds and a larger role in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, having portrayed a physician in the "book-end" sequences added to the beginning and end of this film after its original previews. His best-known roles are Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Fred Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver (Mr. Baxter in the pilot episode, "It's a Small World") and as Roger "Cutes" Buell on The Mothers-in-Law. In the 1956 motion picture Carousel, adapted from the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical, he had a bit role as the policeman who admonishes Shirley Jones (Julie) and John Dehner (Mr. Bascombe) about Gordon MacRae (Billy Bigelow) in the famous "bench scene". It was one of the few films in which he did not wear glasses.

Deacon also appeared on The Addams Family in April 1965, and puts Cousin Itt through a battery of psychological tests in "Cousin Itt and the Vocational Counselor." He also appeared as a guest on the 1970s game show Match Game, and played Horace Vandergelder opposite Phyllis Diller's Dolly Gallagher Levi in a touring production of the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also guest starred in many sitcoms in the 1960s, including Mr. Ed and The Donna Reed Show, among others.

Personal life

In real life, he was a gourmet chef. In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote a series of cookbooks and hosted a television series on microwave cooking. He would stand behind a desk and say to customers "I'm standing behind here because in a moment of spontaneity, I sold my pants".

Deacon died from cardiovascular disease in 1984.

Posthumously, he was revealed to have been gay, and his interview with Boze Hadleigh was published in Hadleigh's Hollywood Gays, although during his lifetime he made no particular secret of his sexual orientation. "Most would be surprised. Only because what you see on TV — a serious guy in a suit, unsmiling — isn't how anyone thinks of gay males.


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