Born on April 29, 1912, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, Richard Carlson studied literature and drama as a college student at the University of Minnesota and taught literature and acting courses before striking out as an actor and director on the legitimate stage. The talented Carlson performed in a number of Broadway productions in the mid to late 1930s, including The Ghost of Yankee Doodle (1937) and Stars In Your Eyes (February 1939-May 1939). Carlson's first film appearance came in the David Selznick production The Young in Heart (1938; with Janet Gaynor). In mid 1939, Carlson made a permanent move to Hollywood and freelanced in a number of films at different studios, including The Howards of Virginia (1940; with Cary Grant), Too Many Girls (1940; with Lucille Ball), Hold That Ghost (1941; with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello), and The Affairs of Martha (1942; with Marjorie Main). As with other actors during the era, Carlson served in World War II, interrupting his career. And as was the experience of many other actors, after coming back from the war he found it difficult to land the good roles he had previously been offered.

Richard CarlsonRichard Carlson

LEFT: Early 1950s Universal-International studio photo of Richard Carlson. RIGHT: Beefcake photo from the early 1940s

By the early 1950s, Carlson had rebuilt his film career. Whereas before the war he had usually been cast in comedies and dramas, in the 1950s he starred in numerous science fiction and horror films, three of which were released in 3-D: The Maze (1953; with Hillary Brooke), It Came From Outer Space (1953; with Barbara Rush and Charles Drake), and The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954; with Julie Adams and Richard Denning). In 1953, he took the lead part in the spy drama television series I Led Three Lives, which lasted through the 1956 season. Later in his career, he starred in the fun Bert I. Gordon horror flick Tormented (1960; with Susan Gordon, the daughter of Bert I. Gordon); this film was once featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

the films of richard carlson

Winter Carnival (1939)

Ann Sheridan and Richard Carlson

With Ann Sheridan in the comedy/drama release Winter Carnival

Hold That Ghost (1941)

Richard Carlson, Bud Abbott, Evelyn Ankers, Joan Davis, and Lou Costello

From Universal's hilarious Hold That Ghost with Bud Abbott, Evelyn Ankers, Joan Davis, and Lou Costello

Fly-By-Night (1942)

Richard Carlson

As the desperate Dr. Geoffrey Burton, Richard Carlson attempts to free himself of an unjust murder charge in Paramount's film noir release Fly-By-Night

A Stranger in Town (1943)

Frank Morgan, Richard Carlson, and Jean Rogers

From the MGM drama A Stranger in Town with Frank Morgan and Jean Rogers

All I Desire (1953)>

Richard Carlson

Promotional photo from the Douglas Sirk melodrama All I Desire

It Came from Outer Space (1953)

Charles Drake, Barbara Rush, and Richard CarlsonCharles Drake, Kathleen Hughes, Barbara Rush, and Richard CarlsonBarbara Rush and Richard CarlsonRichard Carlson

Images from Universal-International's cult science fiction favorite It Came from Outer Space. LEFT. With Charles Drake and Barbara Rush. CENTER A: With Kathleen Hughes, Charles Drake, and Barbara Rush. CENTER B: Carlson and Barbara Rush are terrified at the landing of the space ship. RIGHT: Carlson as John Putnam

The Magnetic Monster (1953)

Richard Carlson

From the independent release The Magnetic Monster

Seminole (1953)

Barbara Hale and Richard Carlson

From the Universal-International western Seminole with Barbara Hale

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Julie Adams and Richard CarlsonRichard CarlsonRichard CarlsonRichard CarlsonRichard Carlson

From Universal-International's 3-D classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. LEFT: With Julie Adams. CENTER A: With Nestor Paiva and Bernie Gozier. CENTER B. The Gill-Man stalks Julie Adams and Richard Carlson. CENTER C: On board the Rita with Richard Denning and Julie Adams. RIGHT: Carlson mixes it up with Richard Denning while Whit Bissell watches

The Last Command (1955)

Richard Carlson

Carlson in a Republic publicity still to promote the western The Last Command

Kid Rodelo (1966)

Broderick Crawford, Don Murray, Richard Carlson, and Janet Leigh

Carlson served as actor and director of the western Kid Rodelo, released by Paramount. Pictured are Broderick Crawford, Don Murray, Richard Carlson, and Janet Leigh

It Takes a Thief (1968-1970 ABC TV Series)

Richard Carlson and Mark Richman

Carlson guest-stars with Peter Mark Richman in a January 1969 episode of ABC's It Takes a Thief titled The Naked Billionaire

later years

Carlson began directing films and television shows in the 1950s. His first directorial effort was the science fiction film Riders to the Stars (1954; with William Lundigan and Martha Hyer) in which he also starred. He also directed Four Guns to the Border (1954; with George Nader, Colleen Miller, and Rory Calhoun), The Saga of Hemp Brown (1958; with Rory Calhoun, Beverly Garland, and Yvette Vickers), and Appointment with a Shadow (1958; with George Nader), among other films. In addition, he directed episodes of the television series Thriller, The Detectives, and Men Into Space. As his directing career heated up, Carlson acted in fewer films. His last film was the Elvis Presley vehicle Change of Habit (1969; with Mary Tyler Moore). Carlson retired from acting in the early 1970s with his final appearance on a 1973 episode of Cannon. Following a brain hemorrhage, Carlson died on November 24, 1977, at the age of 65. He was survived by his wife, Mona, and two sons.

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richard carlson trailers

Watch the trailers for The Magnetic Monster (1953) and The Maze (1953)


Change of Habit (1969) with Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore
The Valley of Gwangi (1969) with James Franciscus
The Power (1968) with George Hamilton, Suzanne Pleshette, Yvonne De Carlo, and Barbara Nichols
The Doomsday Flight (1966) with Edward Asner, John Saxon, Van Johnson, and Jan Shepard
Kid Rodelo (1965) with Don Murray, Broderick Crawford, and Janet Leigh
Della (1964) with Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, and Paul Burke
Tormented (1960) with Susan Gordon; directed by Bert I. Gordon
The Unchained Goddess (1958) with Frank Baxter; an educational film
Hemo the Magnificent (1957) with Frank Baxter; an educational film
The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays (1957) with Frank Baxter; an educational film
The Helen Morgan Story (1957) with Ann Blyth and Paul Newman
Three for Jamie Dawn (1956) with Laraine Day and Ricardo Montalban
An Annapolis Story (1955) with John Derek and Kevin McCarthy
Bengazi (1955) with Richard Conte, Hillary Brooke, and Mala Powers
The Last Command (1955) with Sterling Hayden, John Russell, Virginia Grey, and Jim Davis
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) with Julie Adams, Richard Denning, and Whit Bissell
Riders to the Stars (1954) with Martha Hyer and Dawn Addams; directed by Richard Carlson
It Came from Outer Space (1953) with Barbara Rush, Russell Johnson, and Charles Drake
All I Desire (1953) with Barbara Stanwyck, Lori Nelson, and Richard Long
Seminole (1953) with Rock Hudson, Barbara Hale, Hugh O'Brian, and Russell Johnson
The Maze (1953) with Hillary Brooke
The Magnetic Monster (1953) with King Donovan
Flat Top (1952) with Sterling Hayden, John Bromfield, Keith Larsen, and Phyllis Coates
Retreat, Hell! (1952) with Russ Tamblyn
The Rose Bowl Story (1952) with Marshall Thompson and Vera Miles
The Blue Veil (1951) with Jane Wyman and Vivian Vance
A Millionaire for Christy (1951) with Fred MacMurray and Eleanor Parker
The Sound of Fury (1951) with Adele Jergens and Lloyd Bridges
Whispering Smith Hits London (1951)
Valentino (1951) with Patricia Medina, Eleanor Parker, and Sally Forrest
King Solomon's Mines (1950) with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger
Behind Locked Doors (1948) with Tor Johnson and Dickie Moore
The Amazing Mr. X (1948) with Turhan Bey, Cathy O'Donnell, Lynn Bari, and Virginia Gregg
So Well Remembered (1947) with John Mills
The Man from Down Under (1943) with Charles Laughton and Donna Reed
Presenting Lily Mars (1943) with Judy Garland and Van Heflin
A Stranger in Town (1943) with Frank Morgan, Jean Rogers, and John Hodiak
Young Ideas (1943) with Mary Astor and Herbert Marshall
Fly-By-Night (1942) with Nancy Kelly
Highways by Night (1942) with Ray Collins and Jane Darwell
White Cargo (1942) with Hedy Lamarr and Walter Pidgeon
The Affairs of Martha (1942) with Marjorie Main and Spring Byington
My Heart Belongs to Daddy (1942) with Frances Gifford and Cecil Kellaway
Hold That Ghost (1941) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Evelyn Ankers, Joan Davis, the Andrews Sisters, and Shemp Howard
Back Street (1941) with Charles Boyer, Margaret Sullavan, and Tim Holt
The Little Foxes (1941) with Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall
West Point Widow (1941) with Richard Denning, Frances Gifford, and Anne Shirley
The Ghost Breakers (1940) with Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, and Willie Best
The Howards of Virginia (1940) with Cary Grant,Martha Scott, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Byrd, Paul Kelly, and Anne Revere
No, No, Nanette (1940) with Anna Neagle, Victor Mature, Eve Arden, Zasu Pitts, and Helen Broderick
Too Many Girls (1940) with Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Frances Langford, Eddie Bracken, and Ann Miller
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) with Rod La Rocque and Harry Carey
Little Accident (1939) with Hugh Herbert and Edgar Kennedy
Winter Carnival (1939) with Ann Sheridan and Robert Armstrong
Dancing Co-Ed (1939) with Lana Turner, Artie Shaw, and Mary Beth Hughes
These Glamour Girls (1939) with Lana Turner, Lew Ayres, and Mary Beth Hughes
The Duke of West Point (1938) with Joan Fontaine
The Young in Heart (1938) with Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Paulette Goddard

Mackenzie's Raiders, 1958-1959 syndicated TV series
I Led Three Lives, 1953-1956 syndicated TV series

Cannon, episode Moving Target, originally aired January 31, 1973
Cannon, episode The Torch, originally aired February 29, 1972
The F.B.I., episode Moment of Truth, originally aired March 30, 1969
It Takes a Thief, episode The Naked Billionaire, originally aired January 28, 1969
Bonanza, episode The Thirteenth Man, originally aired January 21, 1968
Bonanza, episode A Girl Named George, originally aired January 14, 1968
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Avenging Angel, originally aired March 13, 1966
Rawhide, episode Brush War at Buford, originally aired November 23, 1965
The Virginian (1962), episode Farewell to Honesty, originally aired March 24, 1965
Wagon Train, episode The Clay Shelby Story, originally aired December 6, 1964
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Tragic Trophy, originally aired November 19, 1964
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, episode Village of Guilt, originally aired November 2, 1964
The Fugitive, episode The Homecoming, originally aired April 7, 1964
The Virginian, episode Smile of a Dragon, originally aired Feburary 26, 1964
Wagon Train, episode The Cassie Vance Story, originally aired December 23, 1963
Thriller, episode Kill My Love, originally aired March 26, 1962
Riverboat, episode The Faithless, originally aired November 22, 1959
Crossroads, episode Call for Help, originally aired March 1, 1957
Crossroads, episode The Happy Gift, originally aired February 1, 1957
Lights Out, episode The Devil in Glencairn, originally aired July 16, 1951

richard carlson film now showing

Watch Richard Carlson's 1960 horror flick Tormented

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This page premiered May 3, 2001.