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Robert Fuller Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (95)  | Personal Quotes (25)

Overview (4)

Born in Troy, New York, USA
Birth NameLeonard Leroy Lee Jr.
Nickname Bobby
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Robert Fuller was born in Troy, New York on 29th July 1933 at 1.50pm and was raised in Key West, Florida. He was an only child and his birth name was Leonard Leroy Lee, but he was nicknamed Buddy Lee by his friends.

Robert started his education at St Mary's in New York and when his mother Betty divorced she took Robert and they moved to Florida where she was nightclub dancer. Robert was put into Miami Military Academy, where he did 5th to 6th grade. After that he spent one year in a standard school. At this time Betty met and married Robert Simpson who was a naval officer and they moved to Chicago for one year then returned to Key West where he attended Robert attended Key West High for 9th grade. (15 years of age). Robert quit school at 9th grade as he did not enjoy school and openly admits he did not do well there. He worked a variety of jobs before moving to Hollywood.

When his mother Betty married Robert Simpson, Robert took the name Robert Simpson Jr. This changed when Robert started acting and he decided he needed a different handle. At the time he had no idea what his name should be but he had a relative with a first name of Fuller and he figured it went well with his name so the handle of Robert Fuller was created. Robert was very close to his step-dad and considered him as a dad rather than a step-dad, so for the remainder of this biography I will refer to him as Robert's dad or father.

Eventually, Betty convinced Robert Simpson to quit the navy. She taught him to dance, and this led to them opening a dance school in Key West. In the daytime his mother taught ballet to the local children and in the evening they both taught ballroom dancing to the hundreds of navy personnel who were stationed in Key West at that time. In 1950 when Robert was just 16 his parents decided to move to Hollywood. Robert's dad became a very accomplished dancer, and had a plan to get into the motion picture business as a dancer, which he did successfully. His dad subsequently changed his name to Robert Cole and danced in almost every musical made between 1950 up to his retirement in 1987. This included working in many top grade musicals such as Oklahoma, Jailhouse Rock, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in which young Robert Fuller also appeared as a dancer in the chorus line.

After the move to Hollywood Robert had several jobs. The most significant of these was at Graumans Chinese Theatre where he started as a doorman and worked his way up to Assistant Manager. He met a number of people around his own age of 18 years, who were members of the Screen Extras Guild, and they convinced him to join as they were earning significantly more than Robert. This was the start of Robert's journey into acting, and it was then he changed from Robert Simpson Jr to Robert Fuller.

After joining SEG Robert started doing extra work and in 1952 got his first job in the movie Above and Beyond with Robert Taylor. This was followed by extra work in a great many films including Raintree County with Liz Taylor, The Harder They Fall with Humphrey Bogart and The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit with Gregory Peck.

His Dad convinced him to look for jobs as a dancer which he did successfully getting roles in I Love Melvin with Debbie Reynolds, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Marilyn Monroe and Latin Lovers with Lana Turner.

In 1953, while the Korean war was on, Robert at the age of 19 was drafted into the United States Army where he served 2 years, 15 months of which was in Korea. His unit was 19th Infantry Regiment and he was chosen 3 times as the outstanding soldier on Guard Mount, a decision based upon appearance, knowledge of military subjects and bearing.

When he returned home in 1955 he decided to give up his career in show business as he did not see any future in it. However his dad, along with his long time pal Chuck Courtney, convinced him to attend Richard Boone's acting class. This was a pivotal move for Robert as the class impressed him so much he changed his mind, decided to stay in show business and take a shot at becoming an actor. After studying with Boone for a year, Boone was impressed enough with Robert's potential that he recommended him to Sanford Meisner who accepted Robert into the New York Neighbourhood Playhouse School Of Theatre. Meisner was a highly respected acting teacher who taught future stars like Gregory Peck, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Edmund O'Brien and Grace Kelly. Robert was in good company.

In 1956 came his first speaking part in a movie where he played a union soldier and said to Gary Cooper "Bet you a dollar you can't do that again". The film was "Friendly Persuasion", and not only was it Robert's first talking part in a movie, it was also the first time he worked with his Laramie co-star John Smith. Originally director William Wyler had wanted another actor to play the part Robert was given, however he was unimpressed with the fact the other actor had false sideburns. Robert's sideburns were real and when Wyler saw Robert he called him over and asked him if he could act - Robert said "You Bet". Wyler then said "Say this line - "I bet I can knock down more than you can" . Robert repeated the line and Wyler without hesitation said "Give this kid the part".

This was a turning point for Robert and the beginning of a great career.

Following Friendly Persuasion Robert had a number of small speaking parts and then in 1956 came his big break in Teenage Thunder.

To get the part he and his good friend Chuck Courtney staged a fight to convince the Director, Paul Helmick, that he was the man for the part. Originally Helmick had wanted Edd Byrnes but after seeing Chuck and Robert perform Helmick gave the role of bad guy Maurie Weston to Robert. The very same year Robert did another film for the same company that produced Teenage Thunder and again worked with the same production team. This film was the cult science fiction movie "The Brain From Planet Arous" with John Agar. After over 50 years this film is still available on DVD.

This was followed by a part in a science fiction series where he played a bad guy and was killed in the 3rd episode. The name of this series was Outpost In Space.

He spent the next couple of years doing featured and guest star roles in a variety of TV programs mainly westerns.

In February 1959 Robert appeared again with John Smith, this time in a western series called Cimarron City and now Robert's career had progressed to the point where he was getting guest star billing. It was this appearance that led to his being offered the role of Jess Harper in "Laramie".

The story goes as follows;

While filming Cimarron City Robert was summoned to the Vice President of Talent, Patrick Kelly's office. He went there actually thinking he was going to be fired. However Kelly told him that he liked the work he had done in a number of shows over the previous year and wanted him to do a TV series. This was a very exciting prospect for Robert, however excitement soon turned to disappointment when Kelly offered him the second lead in a detective series starring Ray Milland called "Markham" Robert refused the role on the grounds he wanted to do a good western. Kelly was naturally dumbfounded that his offer was being refused but he accepted Robert's decision and Robert left his office. Then a couple of weeks later Robert was summoned again to Patrick Kelly's office. This time he offered Robert a part in a new 30 minute western called Laramie. Robert was delighted and read the script and loved it, but again things were about to turn awkward. Kelly offered Robert the role of Slim Sherman - Robert wanted the part of Jess Harper!!! So again Kelly found himself being refused. He explained to Robert that the role of Jess had already been given to John Smith who was already under contract with Revue. Yet again Robert stuck to his guns and again the two men parted without agreement. Robert left Patrick Kelly's office thinking that was the end of his career - you don't turn down those opportunities once let alone twice! However there was a twist - The very same day Robert's agent called him to say that he was required to test for the part of Jess Harper. The next day he was given the role that he wanted so much, a role that was truly made for him, a role that would make him an international star and transform his life.

John Smith was given the role of Slim Sherman and hindsight shows that these were the right roles for each of them. Robert Fuller WAS Jess Harper and John Smith WAS Slim Sherman. Had that role change not happened then Laramie would not have worked anywhere near as well as it did. Over the next 4 years Robert immortalized the character of Jess Harper and gained millions of fans worldwide. Robert said of this role that it was the best part he ever had.

In December 1962, while Laramie was still at its peak Robert married Patty Lyon.

Laramie ran from 1959-1963 and from there Robert went straight into "Wagon Train" as chief scout Cooper Smith. Coop was a less volatile character than Jess Harper and Robert played him very differently. The move into Wagon Train gave Robert the opportunity to work with some of the best stars in the business, people like John McIntire, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and Rhonda Fleming.

When "Wagon Train" finished in 1965, Robert moved onto the big screen, and in 1966 got his first starring role in a movie. This was the western "Incident At Phantom Hill" where he was re-united with his close friend Dan Duryea, a man for whom Robert had the greatest respect, and who had made a couple of guest spots in Laramie. It was an all action western where Robert's character Matt Martin had many of the characteristics of Jess Harper. Also in 1966 Robert was given second billing to Yul Brynner in the sequel to "The Magnificent Seven", a film aptly titled "Return Of The Seven". He was so busy in 66 that for the filming of Return Of The Seven they had to shoot around him while he was in Munich for the premiere of "Incident At Phantom Hill" .

The character of Vin he portrayed in "Seven" was the part previously occupied by Steve McQueen who had now gone on to become a superstar. McQueen was not offered the role in the sequel because it is likely that if he had been in the film then Yul Brynner would not. The stories of Brynner's less than cordial relationship with McQueen are now legendary. With Robert it was very different and he and Yul got along very well, and in fact remained close friends until Brynner died in 1985.

Robert remained busy doing movies in Germany, Israel and the States over the next few years, then in 1970 he made one of his best ever movies "The Hard Ride". This was a stunning film about a Vietnam vet, Phil Duncan who brought his dead buddy's body home and sets out to find his buddy's old biker friends to get them to attend the funeral. This was Robert Fuller at his best and while there were good performances he carried the film. Today you can still buy the soundtrack and the DVD.

Jack Webb saw Robert's performance in "The Hard Ride" and decided he wanted him to star in a new TV medical drama series called Emergency. Robert was grateful for the offer but did not want to play a doctor and he told Webb so. But Webb was determined and finally persuaded Robert to take the part. True, it was a departure from the action roles his fans were so used to, but Emergency was a major television success which ran for 7 years and resulted in another generation of fans - the show continues to be very popular still. Over 30 years after it ended there was an Emergency re-union which was attended by most of the stars plus fans from all over the world. Robert's old friend John Smith appeared in a couple of episodes playing a Fire Captain.

Since then Robert has been very busy in a wide variety of roles, sometimes to the delight of his fans, he returns to the western genre.

Robert's marriage to Patty Lyon ended in 1984 after 22years. They had 3 children Robert, Christine and Patrick. Robert later married the lovely Jennifer Savidge who played Nurse Lucy in "St Elsewhere" and appeared regularly in the hit TV series JAG.

Robert's last performance was playing 2 roles in the final episode of Walker Texas Ranger. He played Ranger Wade Harper, who was a descendant of Jess Harper, and an old west Town Sheriff.Robert retired after that show and it is fitting that his final part was in a western role.

In July 2004 Robert and Jennifer re-located from Los Angeles to Texas where they now live on a beautiful ranch. He still enjoys his lifelong passions of fishing and shooting and he now has more time to enjoy them.

Despite being retired he attends a number of western festivals each year where he spends a lot of time with his fans who have stayed loyal for over 60 years. Indeed at the National Festival Of the West in Phoenix Robert hosted many private parties with his fans where he would sit for hours talking to them and enjoying telling stories of his time in show business. It is testament to the talent and personality of Robert Fuller that fans still travel from the four corners of the earth just to spend a couple of days with him at the Festivals he attends. He has always loved his fans and that remains true today. He still has an international fan club - The Robert Fuller Fandom.

Robert Fuller has had a long and very successful career which is proven by the awards he has received. Look at this!

1961 - Best Actor Award in Japan 1961 - Japanese Golden Order Of Merit - awarded to him by the Empress of Japan. Robert was the first American to receive this award 1970 - Best Actor in Germany. Robert actually won 5 Ottos which are German awards that are the equivalent of the Emmy. 1970 - Buffalo Bill Award for outstanding western entertainment. 1975 - Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame 1989 - Golden Boot Award 2002 - Honoree Kanab Western Legends Roundup 2004 - Cowboy Spirit Award - National Festival Of The West, Phoenix October 2007 - Silver Spur Award April 2008 - Inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma, Hall Of Great Western Performers

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Gill

Family (3)

Spouse Jennifer Savidge (19 May 2001 - present)
Patricia Lyon (20 December 1962 - 1984)  (divorced)  (3 children)
Children Fuller, Christine
Fuller, Patrick
Parents Robert Simpson, Sr.
Betty Simpson

Trade Mark (3)

Roles in Westerns
Deep raspy voice
The role of Jess Harper in Laramie (1959).

Trivia (95)

Father of Rob (full name: Leonard Leroy Lee III), Christine, and Patrick.
He is the only Walker, Texas Ranger (1993) guest star ever to be killed off twice in the same episode; it was the 2-part series finale, in which he played a dual role.
He was an uncredited extra in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960).
Was a semi-regular on the 70s game show The Hollywood Squares (Syndication) (1971). Often his job on the show was to intentionally give the wrong answer but in a way that might convince the contestant that this might be one of the rare times he was right.
Was close friends (for over 40 years) of singers/actors Julie London and Bobby Troup, long before they appeared together on Emergency! (1972).
After starring in the movie The Hard Ride (1971), Fuller didn't want to do Emergency! (1972), however, Jack Webb strongly insisted he star in it opposite Julie London (Webb's ex-wife). Fuller reluctantly accepted the role due to Webb's insistence. Long after Emergency! (1972) was cancelled, Fuller and London remained close friends until her death in 2000.
Was a spokesperson for Budweiser Malt Liquor in the early 1970s.
He has 7 hobbies: fishing, playing tennis, golfing, gardening, horseback riding, traveling and taking care of farm animals.
Before he was a successful actor, he was the assistant manager of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California.
His parents divorced when he was six years old and he moved with his mother to Key West, Florida in 1939. He enrolled in the Miami Military Academy but dropped out in 9th grade, at age 15. His mother, Betty, remarried to Robert Simpson, with whom she later co-owned a dance studio.
After his guest-starring role on Walker, Texas Ranger (1993), he retired from acting at age 67.
Actor Chuck Courtney taught him how to ride horses, before Fuller became an actor.
A cowboy buff, Fuller began riding horses when he was only 15.
Ranks third between Danny Thomas and Jane Wyman in changing birth names more than once. He legally changed his name from Buddy Lee to Robert Simpson Jr. to Robert Fuller, because he had a Fuller on his mother's side of the family.
Began his career as a bit contract player for MGM in 1952.
Was a fan of Jack Webb's TV series, before he got to star in Emergency! (1972).
The bronze sculpture of Jess Harper on Traveller, which was awarded to him by The Robert Fuller Fandom and The National Festival Of The West in recognition of his years of work in the entertainment industry. [18 March 2006].
He attends an annual Festival of the West in Arizona, where he answers questions and signs autographs.
Was awarded with the Silver Spur Award. [12 October 2007].
Inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Hall Of Great Western Performers in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. [12 April 2008].
All of his series Laramie (1959), Wagon Train (1957) and Emergency! (1972) were shot at Universal Studios.
Was drafted into the US Army and served in Korea.
Became a contract player for Universal from 1959-1977.
Turned down the role of Ray Milland's young detective partner in Markham (1959), because he wanted to do westerns, and soon after he was offered Laramie (1959).
After a stint in the U.S. Army, he met young, rising singer and screen actress, Julie London, in 1955, when he stopped in for a beer at one of the clubs in Los Angeles, California, along with her future husband, singer/songwriter, Bobby Troup, where they embarked on a lifelong friendship, until London's passing in 2000, the year after her husband's. Then, several years later, London's first exposure with Fuller, was when they were working together on an episode of Laramie (1959). Some eleven years later, she would later co-star on Emergency! (1972), as his medical partner.
Best known by the public for his role as Jess Harper on Laramie (1959) and for his starring role as Dr. Kelly Brackett on Emergency! (1972).
Was reunited with ex-Emergency! (1972) co-star, Randolph Mantooth on both series: The Fall Guy (1981) and Diagnosis Murder (1993).
First met Robert Horton and James Drury, when the three were under contract at MGM Studios in 1954.
Used to play tennis with Doug McClure and Michael Landon.
Danced with Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).
Met John Smith and Doug McClure in 1956, while working on the movie Friendly Persuasion (1956), though they didn't all participate in the movie.
Worked with James Drury in episodes of 3 shows: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993), Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993) and The Virginian (1962), though Drury did not appear in both episodes with his best friend.
After the cancellation of Laramie (1959), despite mistaken assertions to the contrary, Fuller did not replace Robert Horton for the last two seasons of Wagon Train (1957) as Horton had left the series long before Fuller was added to the cast.
At the 20th year of Festival of the West, he read the tribute speech of his best friend and ex-Laramie (1959) co-star, John Smith, who died 15 years earlier in 1995. [20 March 2010].
When Fuller had a recurring role towards the final season of Walker, Texas Ranger (1993), his character, Wade Harper, was the great-great grandson of Laramie (1959)'s, Jess Harper, he portrayed decades earlier.
Had rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder in June 2012, then had surgery once more for some blood clots in the arm; both surgeries were successful.
Like his best friends Julie London, Bobby Troup and James Drury, he used to be a heavy smoker until his first wife, Patricia Lyons, was diagnosed with cancer in 1984. From then on, he quit.
With the death of John Smith, on January 25, 1995, Fuller and Robert Crawford, Jr. became the only surviving original cast members of Laramie.
Worked with Hugh O'Brian on an episode of Paradise (1988), where O'Brian reprised his Wyatt Earp character, he played decades earlier.
Both of Doug McClure's daughters, Tane McClure and Valerie McClure, were at his & Jennifer Savidge's wedding on 19 May 2001.
Before retirement, he guest-starred in the final 2 part episode of Walker, Texas Ranger (1993) as Wade Harper.
Before he was a successful actor, he danced with many actors in films, including Jane Russell to Marilyn Monroe.
In order for Fuller to get the part in Teenage Thunder (1957), both he and Chuck Courtney fought hard to convince the director Paul Helmick that he was man enough for the role. Originally Helmick had wanted Edd Byrnes, but after seeing Chuck and Robert perform Helmick gave the role of bad guy Maurie Weston to him.
Had studied under the direction of Sanford Meisner at the New York Neighbourhood Playhouse School Of The Theatre.
Has worked with Dan Duryea in episodes of two different series: Laramie (1959), Wagon Train (1957), and in the movie Incident at Phantom Hill (1966).
Has worked with Eddie Albert in episodes of two different series: Laramie (1959) and Murder, She Wrote (1984).
Has worked with Harry Morgan in episodes of two different series: Hec Ramsey (1972) and Blacke's Magic (1986).
The year before Doug McClure's death, Fuller was reunited with him for one last time in Maverick (1994), where they both had a small role as Riverboat Poker Players.
Fuller learned how to be a cowboy from his father.
Fuller served in the U.S. Army, as did Emergency! (1972) co-star Kevin Tighe.
Neighbor of Alex Cord.
Appeared at the Memphis Film Festival at the Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center in Olive Branch, Mississippi. [6 June 2009].
Before he co-starred with John McIntire on Wagon Train (1957), MacIntire guest-starred with Fuller on various episodes of Laramie (1959).
Became lifelong friends with Ronald Reagan.
Met Alex Cord on an episode of Laramie (1959). Prior to Fuller's retirement, Cord convinced him to move to Texas where he became Cord's neighbor.
Appeared on the cover of TV Guide 5 times.
Was reunited with ex-Laramie (1959) co-star, Dennis Holmes, on an episode of Wagon Train (1957).
Acting protégé of Richard Boone.
Was 7 years younger than Julie London, who co-starred with Fuller on Emergency! (1972).
His longtime best friend James Drury was a fan of Fuller's own TV show Emergency! (1972).
He and his wife Jennifer Savidge, along with James Best, all attended lifelong friend Norman Lloyd's 100th birthday party on November 9, 2014 in Los Angeles. Norman Lloyd also starred in St. Elsewhere (1982).
His friends Peter Marshall, Bernie Kopell, Julie London, James Drury and Ruta Lee all referred to him as: Bobby.
Surviving Laramie (1959) cast remaining are Fuller, Bobby Crawford, and Dennis Holmes.
Was the first choice for the role as Holling Vincoeur in Northern Exposure (1990), but turned it down, hence the role was given to John Cullum.
Met fellow Western character actor/movie star, James Best, when he was guest-starring on the 6th episode of Laramie (1959), with Fuller, and Best almost shared the same birthday with him, just 3 days after Best, who was 7 years Fuller's senior. They were very good friends for 56 years, until Best's passing in 2015.
Despite being nine years apart, both Fuller and Robert Horton celebrated their own birthdays, every July 29 of each year, for 61 years, until Horton's death in 2016.
Originally, Emergency! (1972) was intended to be a medical drama for him, Julie London and her real-life husband Bobby Troup, from the beginning, until his co-star Randolph Mantooth took over, and focused more on rescues than hospital scenes.
Worked with friends on series: John Smith on Laramie (1959), John McIntire and Denny Miller'on Wagon Train (1957) and Julie London and Bobby Troup on Emergency! (1972).
Fuller said during an interview that, after doing three television series, he finally retired in 2004 in order to spend more time with his wife, Jennifer Savidge, and to raise animals on his North Texas ranch.
Fuller witnessed co-star Julie London's London singing debut.
Despite good ratings, his show Emergency! (1972) was put on hiatus in 1977, after the sixth season, but came back for 6 movie specials, before canceling it for good in 1979. The six TV movies are considered season 7. Fuller came back for only one of those 7 movies.
Had also owned a house in Lake Okeechobee, Florida.
Before moving to North Texas, Fuller and his ex-Emergency! (1972) co-star, Randolph Mantooth, had reportedly feuded. Despite having been friends, Fuller (then newly-married to Jennifer Savidge) was distancing himself from Hollywood in preparation for his permanent departure to Texas.
Was a longtime friend of the late Bobby Troup (Julie London's second husband), and spoke at Troup's funeral on 22 February 1999. Both Fuller and Troup played emergency room doctors on Emergency! (1972), in the early 1970s.
Had taught his ex-Laramie (1959) co-star, Dennis Holmes, how to curse, smoke and drink, at age 12.
His role have been reduced on Emergency! (1972), over the last 2 seasons, due to the direction the show was going, which would be special episodes losing momentum, at the same time, he was going fishing, all the while, he was also looking to star in more Westerns. Also, part of his contract was that he wanted to work on a part-time basis, when he could've worked longer hours, when it was already too late.
Although he had a clause in his Emergency! (1972) contract to direct, he did not direct any episodes owing to his busy scheduling.
Future actors and Western enthusiasts, Nancy Stafford and Clarence Gilyard Jr., were both of Fuller's childhood heroes, as they both grew up watching Laramie (1959) and Wagon Train (1957), both of them starred Fuller.
Despite co-starring in Megaforce (1982), he is hardly a fan of said movie. Once, when asked whether the film was as bad as critics claimed, Fuller responded, "I'd call it 'worse'.".
Understanding he was looking to do more Westerns, had he refused to play Dr. Kelly Brackett on Emergency! (1972), both Jack Webb and Julie London (whom Webb was married to at the time) would've both been very disappointed in him. He reluctantly took on the role, because Webb asked him to, and because of his lifelong friendship with London.
For years, he used to live not too far from his ex-Emergency! (1972) co-star and lifelong friend Julie London. He would make visits at her house.
In order for him to pronounced the words, he was given the medical dictionary by Jack Webb, for his role on Emergency! (1972).
Went fishing with James Best.
Did not telephoned Julie London before her death.
Stepson of dancer/actor Robert Cole.
Son of dancer Betty Simpson.
His stepfather Robert Cole passed away on May 6, 2003. He lived to be 82.
Due to prior commitments, and seeing the services were private, he did not attend the funeral of his longtime friend James Best.
As was the case with James Best, Fuller was also a detective television show buff.
Frequently talks about Julie London in almost every interview.
At age 16, Fuller relocated with his family to Los Angeles, California, in 1950, to also take on odd jobs, before pursing an acting career. He would live there, until 2004, when it was Alex Cord's call for him to move to Gainesville, Texas, in order for Fuller to be close to his closest and dearest friend.
Was inducted into The Texas Trail Of Fame. [27 October 2018].
In the 1980s, he had starred in a pilot for CBS that failed to be picked up as a series.

Personal Quotes (25)

I've got a big plaque up on the wall next to Gary Cooper and John Wayne and all the big guys. Next to all the great Western performers.
I was assistant manager of Grauman's Chinese Theater. I started out there as the doorman wearing a Chinese outfit. I was there maybe six months when the assistant manager left and they gave me the job. I was 17 years old. I wore a suit and tie in the daytime and a tuxedo at night. I was in charge of all the usherettes. We had 20 usherettes on staff in 1951. It was a great job. I had a good time.
Well, all the years that I did Laramie (1959) and Wagon Train (1957), Tony Curtis' dressing room was directly across from mine. His and Rock Hudson's. My dressing room .. . you know, I did all three series at Universal Studios: "Laramie", "Wagon Train" and Emergency! (1972), I guess that was fifteen or sixteen years or something like that. But the row of dressing rooms that I was on was called Whiskey Row. And the reason it was called Whiskey Row was because the first dressing room was Ward Bond, the second dressing room was Frank McGrath, the third was Terry Wilson, the fourth was John Smith, the fifth was me and the sixth was Lee Marvin. And we all partied after lunch, so they called it Whiskey Row. Now, in the same amount of space directly across from us were only two dressing rooms and they were bungalows; they were fabulous. Ours were great; I mean, we had dressing room, living room, makeup, kitchen, and all that, but these guys were like a condominium, practically. Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson right across from us for all those years.
[on joining the cast for the last two seasons of Wagon Train (1957)]: It didn't have anything to do with Robert Horton. He had been away from that series for two years already. Denny Miller replaced him.
Well, it came about because of Laramie (1959). "Laramie" was the number-one television show in Japan and Germany. I made several trips to both of those countries. My character, Jess Harper, was so big in Japan . . . well, "Laramie" was the number-one television show for, like, five years in Japan; the number-one show. They liked the character of Jess Harper because it reminded them of a Samurai warrior. Always helping the underdog like the Samurai did in those days, and so they liked that character. I had marvelous times over there. I won the best actor award over there in Japan, over all Japanese actors in 1961. And helped raise $100,000 for the Japanese Red Cross for underprivileged children and was given the highest award ever given to an American by the emperor called the Golden Order of Merit. I got to have a viewing with the emperor and empress of Japan and had lunch at the prime minister's home. It was unbelievable; I had such a fabulous time over there.
[on his on- and off-screen chemistry with Emergency! (1972) co-stars Julie London and Bobby Troup, who played Nurse Dixie "Dix" McCall, RN & Dr. Joe Early, MD, respectively]: Oh, it was great. I loved working with the two of them, and I loved . . . I had known Julie and Bobby for a long, long time, and we just got along great. I tell you what, it was a lot of fun to go to work every morning while we were shooting it.
[When Jack Webb strongly insisted that he star on Emergency! (1972)]: The Hard Ride (1971) was a very good motorcycle movie. It got great reviews. It was a different type of movie. I played an ex-Marine coming back from Vietnam that was going to get a motorcycle back to a dead friend's relative. I can't remember how it went, but I know it worked pretty good. Paul Donnelly, who was executive in charge of production at Universal Studios all the years that I was doing Laramie (1959), Wagon Train (1957) and Emergency! (1972), he was a dear, dear friend of mine. He happened to see that movie about two days after Jack Webb had decided he was going to do the series called "Emergency!". He went to Jack and he said, "You ought to run this movie because if you're looking for your lead doctor, Dr. Brackett, then you should look at Robert Fuller in this movie". Jack went over to the projection room, looked at the first five minutes of the movie and said, "That's him. Hire him; I want him. Nobody else but him". And that's how I got "Emergency!".
[If he bore a slight resemblance to Robert Horton, who coincidentally shares the same birthday with him] No, that was way down the line. I wasn't under contract through the studio, and all those other people were. They immediately wanted to me to go into another Western, and they figured because of the popularity of Laramie (1959) and my popularity in Japan and Germany, that it would boost that up a little bit. And that was fine by me. I was more than happy to join that cast. They were all friends of mine, anyway. You know, John McIntire was there; I adored him and worked with him quite often. He had done a couple of "Laramie" episodes with me. I had known Denny Miller when he was doing "Tarzan". Frank McGrath and Terry Wilson were good buddies of mine for years. And I was thrilled.
[Who talked about the home of other Western stars of his era]: Oh, it was incredible. I think it took us about ten days or so to shoot that whole scene, and we just had a great time; all of those old cowboys getting together. And then, of course, Mel was fabulous, and so was Jimmy Coburn. I had known Jimmy for years; he guested on Laramie (1959) with me. And then Jim Garner, of course, was always a sweetheart. So we had fun on that set.
I'd been in the business (show business) 52 years -- the ordinary man doesn't work that long.
[When Jack Webb talked him into starring in Emergency! (1972)]: I enjoyed doing Westerns, but it was (producer) Jack Webb who said, 'You can play a doctor,' and gave me that great series.
[Of Julie London]: She should've been a sailor. I'm telling you, I loved Julie. I've known Julie for years; and one of the things that made me happy about doing Emergency! (1972), was working with Julie and Bobby; because they were friends of mine. I've known them for years, before that, Julie did Laramie (1959) with me; and I loved her. I loved her singing and I loved his plane. But to Julie, to get away with anything and when it came out of her mouth; it sounded like candy and we loved it, she was wild.
[Who said about his friendship with Julie London, who played Nurse Dixie McCall]: She made it worthwhile, going into the set every day.
[If he was still working, before retirement, prior to attending festivals]: Oh, I was still working. I retired from acting in 2004, when my wife and I, actress Jennifer Savidge [of St. Elsewhere (1982) and JAG (1995) television series fame], moved to Texas and got a ranch. I probably started doing these festivals in the middle to late 1990s. The very first one that I attended was the Hollywood Collectors Show, and then I started getting invited to some of the big ones that are all over the country.I participated at five festivals in 2015. I just happened to get trapped into five. Three I really enjoyed doing. Jennifer and I spend time together at our ranch, I grow hay for our horses, I like to do a lot of fishing, so that's enough traveling and whatever.
[If he had been offered anything else after 2004]: I would not consider anything. I've had three Western offers, and none of them could match what I wanna do. I would only do a commercial if I believed in the product. I was the national spokesman for Teledyne Water Pik for six years, the national spokesman for Budweiser Malt Liquor, and the national spokesman for Little Friskies cat food. I've done good stuff, and I have no reason to work anymore. I'm very well off as far as I'm concerned. Truthfully, the only thing that would get me back to work is if there was an incredible Western script starring Robert Duvall with a great part. I'd walk to Hollywood to do it with him.
[When asked if he had guest-starred on an episode of The High Chaparral (1967)]: No. In fact I did a movie called What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969) in Tucson, while they were shooting The High Chaparral (1967). I wasn't that far away from the guys. We'd all get together at the local watering hole and shoot the breeze over drinks. If I wasn't working, I'd go over to the set and visit them, or they'd come over where I was working with big time producer-director Robert Aldrich [e.g. The Dirty Dozen], who had his own film production studio.
[Of Marilyn Monroe]: She was such a sweetheart and really just a child. She was actually very nervous, but great with all the dancers. I know some directors found her hard to work with, but she was fun with us. We rehearsed that number for three weeks and it took a week to shoot.
I was raised in Miami and Key West. I'm a Conch. I went to Miami Military academy, and lived in Key West from '45 to '50. At that time, the Navy had four bases there, a sub base and three other bases. Hardly any tourists. But the fishing! There were 15 foot sharks like you wouldn't believe, and what they called Pink Gold - five and six inch shrimp.
I still get mail from people telling me they patterned their way of life after that character. Actors and TV shows can affect people and thankfully in a positive way
[When he met Julie London for the first time, immediately after spending his time in the Army]: "Shortly after I got out of the Army in '55, I happened to be in a nightclub on Sunset Boulevard drinking a beer when all of a sudden this gorgeous blonde came out with a man with a guitar. The woman started to sing and, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. That was my introduction to Julie London. Also that year, I met Richard Boone for the first time."
I don't know if there's a helluva lot of difference between Jess Harper and Bob Fuller.
[When recognized about growing up in front of a dancing family]: My mom danced in all the nightclubs on Miami Beach in the 1940's. When she married my step-dad, she turned him into a dancer; the two of them did all kinds of stuff. My dad [Robert Cole], of course, got in the picture business before I did and danced in every musical made in Hollywood from 1950 until he retired in the '80s. Did a lot of specialty numbers. He was very well-respected, worked all the time.
[About saying goodbye to Los Angeles to move near Dallas]: I really like to fish. And I honestly got tired of Hollywood. I've done everything I could possibly do there, and I wanted to enjoy myself for a while. So Jennifer and I started looking for some places. In the meantime, my good pal Alex Cord, well, he wanted to get out of Hollywood too, and he bought a ranch in a little place called Valley View, which is about eight miles from here. We came down to visit him a couple of times, and we fell in love with this area, so we started looking for property. Dadgummit, we found a gorgeous piece of property out in the country with two bass ponds on it, which knocked me out to start with. I've always wanted a bass boat, so I finally got my bass boat, and I got these lakes and I just fish. We got some horses and miniature donkeys and dogs and cats and....
[Who said about [Julie London]'s refusal to sing, in real-life, while starring in [Emergency! (1972)]]: We all hate that, really, as we can't get her to sing!
[on his on- and off-screen chemistry with Julie London, who played Dixie McCall, R.N.]: Julie was excellent and people asked me, 'What do you think it's like getting up in the morning and going to work with Julie London?' My God, what a sweetheart! That woman. She and Bobby (Troup), we had so much fun together, I adored that woman and Jack Webb (of course); they were both married and Bobby was married to Juie (at the time) and it was a big family affair. We had a lot of fun together, after work, we either wound up at Julie's and Bobby's house or Jack's house. Bobby played the piano and Julie would sing and would stay there until 4 A.M. in the morning and be back on the set at 7:30 A.M., and into work, but we had fun.

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