Paul Richards' Acting Credits



by Lisa Oldham

As you can see, Paul Richards had an extensive list of acting credits, especially on television. Below are most of his TV and film credits, and even a few of his radio credits. (I'm still trying to find a complete list of all of these, plus his stage credits.)

TV Commercials - Like many actors, Paul Richards found a lucrative sideline in television commercials. PR pitched Pontiacs (say that three times fast!) in the late 1960's. Perhaps his most famous Pontiac pitch was for the 1968 GTO. The bumper of the '68 "Goat" was made of a new dent-resistant material called "Endura". To demonstrate the endurance of Endura, pitchman Paul nonchalantly picks up a crowbar and proceeds to bash the bejabbers out of the bumper, which remains miraculously dent-free. When this ad first aired, skeptics wondered if PR was actually swinging a rubber crowbar. So, the ending of the ad was re-shot to show him tossing the crowbar onto a concrete floor. It lands with a resounding "clang," proving that it was indeed made of metal.

Paul Richards went wide-trackin' in other Pontiac ads, including the following from the Pontiac Power website: 

1967 GTO: To avoid encouraging speed-crazy teens, Pontiac couldn't show the newest GTO flying over hills or screeching through hairpin turns. So, PR was brought in to suavely introduce the car instead. He appears at the end after caressing each component of the car with his voice. (And, by the way, Paul Richards and Pontiac were the first to use the tagline "The Ultimate Driving Machine", years before BMW!) 

1968 GTO: Apparently, the "Endura" ad was such a big hit that it was repeated, this time with a bunch of Pontiac "engineers" gleefully whacking the Goat. PR still got to narrate, though. Oh, and Pontiac won "Car of the Year" or something (must have been the bumper...) 

1968 Firebird: PR is nautical but nice in this ad ("Don't you want to make waves?"). 

1969 Firebird: Oops! The people at Pontiac couldn't make Firebirds fast enough. But, never fear: our hero is here to proclaim that now there are plenty of Firebirds, and dealers are practically giving them away. So, get yours now, Mister, and break away! 

NEW!!! PR also did commercials for Braniff Airways. I found one of his ads on a Braniff fan site. Click here to view it for yourself (requires QuickTime). Paul is extremely dapper and charming in this ad as he announces that Braniff planes now come in seven different colors, their hostesses wear space helmets to keep out the rain, and the planes' interiors are decorated with South American art--"Cha cha cha!" 

Thank YouTube for three more Braniff ads narrated by PR, including the sexy (and sexist) "Air Strip":

 ...the 2001 - A Space Odyssey-inspired "1975 - The Supersonic Future":

...and this one about a sticky-fingered granny:

 

Paul Richards also advertised the American Express Money Card ("for people who travel") in the early 1970's. Here's another YouTube gem, starring the man himself! I "strongly recommend" that you watch and listen as Paul Richards personally plugs the Amex Money Card. 

 


PR also did voiceovers for Amex travelers checks (before Karl Malden became indelibly identified with the brand).

I also found a clever Continental Insurance commercial on YouTube with a PR voiceover (it's a little hard to tell at first, but towards the end, it's easy to distinguish his voice). Unfortunately, this ad has since been removed from YT. 

And, Paul Richards appeared in commercials for Michelob beer in the 1960's and early 1970's. I actually remember some of the Michelob commercials, and I'd love to see them again, now that I've "discovered" PR. Here's a description of one of the commercials from a 1966 Chicago Tribune article: "60 and 20-second color television commercials feature actor Paul Richards in a low-key, sophisticated setting that in one case ties in quality high-fidelity sound equipment with quality beer." 

I finally found some of the Michelob commercials PR did in the 1970's. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear in these ads, but the voiceover at the end is unmistakably his ("an unexpected pleasure"):

 

If anyone knows of any other TV commercials PR appeared in and/or narrated, please let me know. Thanks!

Stage - PR reportedly had many stage credits dating back to his days at UCLA. He appeared in a 1964 "Kenley Players" summer stock production of The Sound of Music. PR starred as "Captain Georg von Trapp," and Anita Bryant co-starred as "Maria."  This production was so popular it was brought back just a month later, with Gloria DeHaven taking over as Maria. Earlier in 1964, PR starred in the comedy Tunnel of Love at the Swan Theater in Milwaukee, WI. Gloria Grahame was scheduled to be his co-star, but she became embroiled in an exhausting custody battle with her ex-husband and had to bow out at the last minute. 

Audio Recordings
I figured Paul Richards' distinctive voice might be heard on spoken word LPs, and, in fact, I found an LP that features PR's vocal talents. It's called Bill Dana Presents Joey Forman as the Mashuganishi Yogi. As you may have guessed, it's a comedy album. And, it's actually kinda funny. Portrayed by late comic Joey Forman, the "Mashuganishi Yogi" is a 1960's guru who seems to have arrived from India by way of the Borscht Belt. Looking like Cheech Marin on the album cover and sounding uncannily like Latka Gravas (I wonder if Andy Kaufman ever heard this LP?), the Yogi dispenses wacky words of wisdom to various people he encounters in the U.S. Sample: The Yogi tells a nervous man to "Keep the faith, baby." Then, he advises an unwed mother to "Keep the baby, Faith." (OK, so he's not exactly Jay Leno.) Paul Richards describes the Yogi's antics in his serious "narrator" tone. However, even PR gets to join in the fun. On one track, he explains that the Yogi is speaking in a modern venue in Los Angeles, and adds that the Yogi would like to thank the folks who let him use their building:  McDonald's. PR may have also done some of the character voices, but it's hard to tell. I'll have to listen more closely. At any rate, comic actor Norman Fell and the LP's producer, Bill Dana, play many of the characters, and Dana's "Jose Jiminez" has an amusing cameo. While this album may seem like an obscure oddity, there were quite a few copies up for bid on eBay the last time I checked.

I also learned of an LP that almost featured PR:

In the early 1960's, Sunny Skylar (who wrote English lyrics for the song Besame Mucho) devised a "concept" album about love. Epic Records agreed to record the romantic LP and hired Paul Richards to narrate it. Unfortunately, the producer felt the finished album lacked the desired "oomph" and the project was abandoned. 

However, the idea was revived when a big name TV performer came on board. The retooled  LP (grandiosely titled The Hidden Island - A Compelling Story of Love's Secret Moments and Tender Emotions, with songs such as "I Like You All De Time") was released in 1965. The album's narration was now voiced by actor David Janssen. Personally, I would have preferred to spend secret moments on a hidden island with Paul Richards, but since Janssen was starring in The Fugitive at the time, I guess he had more oomph... 

And, apparently there were no hard feelings: PR guest-starred on two episodes of The Fugitive

Anyway, perhaps it was a good thing Paul Richards ultimately lost out on this project. I saw The Hidden Island for sale on a vintage record website, and it was classified as a "comedy album". (At least the "Mashuganishi Yogi" LP was meant to be funny...) ;->

Radio (compiled from various sources):

Films (compiled from various sources):

Television (partially compiled from the Internet Movie Database--which actually had some glaring omissions such as PR's Hawaii 5-0 episode, and it listed only one of his Mod Squad and Have Gun--Will Travel episodes--so, I sent those additions to the IMDB, and they were added on 4/23/03; from other TV episode guides; and from my own collection of vintage tapes and TV Guides):


PR as "Dr. Max Ritcher" in "Bloodline",  an episode of Death Valley Days

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