THE ROOTS OF RICHARDS
by Lisa Oldham
© 2007 - 2010
I love researching my favorite subjects,
especially my favorite actors. Usually, I'm able to learn a great deal just by poring
over old magazine and newspaper clippings. Many well-known actors have also had
at least one biography written about them, and/or have penned an autobiography.
In the case of Paul Richards, he was a very talented actor, but, unfortunately, he wasn't a big-name star. And, the clippings I've found reveal little about Paul's personal background beyond the usual milestones: he was born in Los Angeles in 1924; he married actress Monica Keating in 1953; he died of cancer in Los Angeles in 1974.
A 1963 TV Guide profile mentioned that Paul Richards was "the son of a railroad engineer." Outside of Paul's newspaper obituaries, though, I found no other mention of his parents.
So, I've had to dig a little deeper than usual to find the roots of Richards. Over the past few years, I've searched through public records (such as California vital statistics and census records) and have been able to construct a partial family tree for Paul Richards. This background info is still sketchy and I hope to be able to flesh it out eventually.
If you have any other genealogical
information about Paul Richards you'd like to add, please contact me (please see
the credits page for
Please DO NOT take this info in this format and copy it to any "wiki" sites. As I said, I worked hard on my own to research and to write this biography. If you must, please link to this page (with proper credit) rather than "right clicking" and copying its content. Thank you! :)
Now, let's start at the very beginning, with Paul's parents:
Mr. and Mrs. Levitt
Samuel David Levitt was born in New York City on April 19, 1889. Sam's parents, Louis and Leah Levitt, had immigrated from Russia in 1881. The Levitt family (which also included Sam's brother Max and sister Mary) moved to Los Angeles, California, before the turn of the century. Louis, a second-hand clothes dealer, was naturalized as a US citizen in LA on September 22, 1898. He died in LA in December of 1936.
Sam Levitt moved to Oakland, CA, as a young man. According
to his 1917 draft registration card, he lived at the St. Mark's Hotel in Oakland,
and worked as an Assistant Traffic Manager for the
Antioch & Eastern Railroad. Before being absorbed by other
railroads, the OA&E ran high-speed interurban cars over a 93-mile route
between San Francisco and Sacramento and was a distant forerunner of the current
BART (Bay Area Transit) system.2
Also according to his draft card, Sam was tall, with black hair and brown eyes.
By 1920, Sam Levitt had moved to 2201 Harrison Street in
Oakland and was now the Chief Clerk of the Traffic Department of the San
Francisco and Sacramento Railroad (a successor to the OA&E).
On July 3, 1921, Sam married Edith A. Kasviner in Los Angeles, California. Edith, of Romanian ancestry, was born to Paul and Fannie Kasviner in Illinois on June 28, 1901. The Kasviner family had moved to Los Angeles before the 1920 census.
On November 23, 1924, Sam and Edith welcomed a son at California Lutheran Hospital, Paul Richard Levitt.3 Of course, Paul later become better known as Paul Richards.
By the time of the 1930 census, a daughter had joined the Levitt family and Sam was working in the insurance industry4 in Los Angeles.
Paul Levitt attended Los Angeles High School. His graduation photo (shown above) reveals the handsome face that would later be seen on TV and movie screens.
Paul was a member of the Periclean Society at LAHS, which, as the "Blue and White" yearbook explains, "...represents the highest scholastic achievement. A candidate for any office always mentions Periclean membership first among his qualifications."
A 1935 LAHS student handbook states, "Membership in the Pericleans is based on achievements in studies--extra-curricular activities are not counted. Pericleans shall be selected from a group representing approximately the highest ten per cent of all the students. Each teacher may submit names of the outstanding ten per cent of her class. If a pupil's name is submitted by three teachers, that pupil will be considered by the committee for Periclean honors. Those who are members for two-thirds of their high school attendance are given special honors, among which is the California Scholarship Federation seal on the graduating diploma and the C. S. F. pin which is presented by the school."
Paul graduated from Los Angeles High School in the summer of 1942. According to his 1963 ABC-TV bio sheet, Paul spent two years in the military at Randell Field and then enrolled in UCLA, where he reportedly earned a Masters degree in Theatre Arts in 1948.
The Rest of the Story (So Far)
Sam Levitt died in Los Angeles on December 3, 1954. (Paul would die almost exactly 20 years later in LA, on December 10, 1974.)
Somewhere along the line, Edith Levitt remarried and became Mrs. Mose Grossman. She outlived her son Paul by nearly 10 years, passing away at age 82 on March 3, 1984.
Richards' wife Monica Keating was of Irish descent. She was born on July
20, 1924, in New York State and died in Los Angeles on September 10, 1985.
Paul and Monica had no children. However, Paul and Monica do have living relatives. I have been privileged to hear from some of their extended family, who contacted me after seeing this website.
More to come...
Footnotes and Credits:
1. A little "personal" connection: my grandfather drove interurban cars and years later I worked at a local transit authority
2. Interestingly, there was a film actor named Paul Levitt and among the movies he appeared in was The Houston Story, which co-starred Paul Richards!
3. Paul Richards later did commercials for Continental Insurance
Paul Richards graduation photo from Los Angeles High School Blue & White Semi Annual Summer '42
File originally created on November 22, 2007