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Robert Fuller
Born Buddy Lee
July 29, 1933 (1933-07-29) (age 76)
Troy, New York,
 United States
Spouse(s) Jennifer Savidge[1]
(2001-present)
Patricia Lee Lyon
(1962-1984)
(divorced)
Official website

Robert Fuller (born July 29, 1933(1933-07-29)) is an American actor, best known for starring roles on the popular 1960s western series Laramie and Wagon Train as well as his work in the popular 1970s medical drama Emergency!.

Contents

Early life

An only child, Fuller was born Buddy Lee in Troy, New York, to Betty Simpson, a dance instructor. Prior to Lee's birth, Simpson married Robert Simpson, Sr., a Naval Academy officer. The family moved to Key West, Florida, where Lee took the name of his parents, becoming Robert Simpson, Jr.. The early highlights of Simpson's life were acting and dancing (his parents owned a dancing school), and after graduating from the Miami Military Academy in 1952, he traveled to Hollywood with his family, where Fuller's first job was a stunt man. He also worked at the prestigious Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Upon establishing his acting career, he changed his name to "Robert Fuller."

Acting career before and after a stint in the Korean War

Fuller's first small role was 1952's Above and Beyond. This part led to landing in a few small roles such as I Love Melvin. In 1953, he again had another minor part in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which starred Marilyn Monroe, but Fuller's career came to an abrupt halt when he was drafted into the Korean War. He did a tour of duty in Korea, and came back a couple of years after the war in 1955.

Fuller had considered another career, but at his parents' suggestion, he attended Richard Boone's acting classes, under the tutelage of Sanford Meisner at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse, and reconsidered.

Film career

Fuller landed a small role in Friendly Persuasion, where he worked with his future Laramie co-star John Smith. Director William Wyner suggested to Fuller that he grow sideburns for the role, and was offered the part when he did.

The following year, his first major movie role was Teenage Thunder,

I always wanted to be in show business and with the help of my best buddy, Chuck Courtney, who was an actor then, he helped get me my first starring role in a movie called Teenage Thunder. It was a break for me and since Chuck had the pull at the time to get the director, Paul Helmick, use me for the bad guy and not another actor he really wanted, it was the gateway to many other roles which lead to Laramie series and so on and so forth.[2]

Robert Fuller, emergencyfans.com

And in 1957, he also starred in the science fiction film The Brain From Planet Arous.

Fuller also portrayed a gruff military pilot in the infamous box office dud Megaforce, a movie which he (understandably) dislikes talking about to this day.

Character actor

Fuller became an immensely-popular character actor, guest-starring in dozens of TV series, including Crossroads in 1956, Flight, Official Detective, The Californians, The Lawless Years (in the role of "Cutie Jaffe" on May 7, 1959), Panic!, Buckskin, M Squad, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Lux Playhouse, Highway Patrol, The Restless Gun, Lawman, and Strange Intruder, where he played a villain who died in the third episode. He also made more appearances in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and Mike Hammer, among many others. His guest-starring appearance on Cimarron City led him to his starring in his own series later that year, Laramie, one of the few network television programs set in Wyoming.

Television roles

Fuller landed the role of Jess Harper on the NBC series Laramie, which ran from 1959 to 1963. His co-stars were John Smith and Spring Byington. When Laramie’ ended its run, Fuller jumped to another western, Wagon Train, where he replaced Robert Horton (whom he closely resembled) in the role of the wagon train's scout. While Horton had worn a dark cowboy hat, Fuller wore a light one, presumably so that viewers would realize that a change had occurred. Fuller remained with the series, which switched to ABC until it ended its run in 1965.

Over the next six years, Fuller would appear in a handful of nondescript films; it seemed his career was stalling as the western was slowly being retired from the American film industry. The one exception was his role as Vin in Return of the Seven (1966) which was a modest, if lackluster, sequel to The Magnificent Seven. In 1966, he also portrayed the ill-fated western military Captain William Judd Fetterman in the episode "Massacre at Fort Phil Kearney" near Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming of NBC's Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre. His co-stars included Richard Egan, Phyllis Avery, Robert Pine, and Carroll O'Connor.[3]

After producer Jack Webb saw Fuller in the movie The Hard Ride, he insisted Fuller star in his new NBC medical drama, Emergency!. Fuller was reluctant to play a doctor, but the persistent Webb persuaded him to accept the role of head physician, Dr. Kelly Brackett. Also starring on Emergency!, were late actors/singers, Julie London as Nurse Dixie McCall and her husband Bobby Troup as Dr. Joe Early, who were longtime friends of Fuller's since the 1950s, as well as unfamiliar actors, Randolph Mantooth as Paramedic Johnny Gage and Kevin Tighe as Paramedic Roy DeSoto - the entire cast got along great with Fuller, esp. Mantooth. During its first season, as a mid-season replacement in the 1971–1972 season, it became a smash hit. In 1977, after a six-season run, Emergency! was put on hiatus, despite good ratings, and was eventually canceled in 1979 after eight and a half seasons and 134 episodes.

In the 1980s and 1990s Fuller played supporting roles in more than 20 television shows, including The Love Boat, The Fall Guy, Murder, She Wrote, Matt Houston, Tour of Duty, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and Diagnosis: Murder. Toward the end of his acting career, he played Wade Harper on the last episode of Walker, Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris.

Personal life

By the 1990s, Fuller had largely retired from the film business. He has been married to actress Jennifer Savidge[1] (best known for TV's St. Elsewhere) since 2001. Formerly he was married to Patricia Lee Lyon, with whom he has three children. The two were divorced after twenty-two years of marriage in 1984.

In mid-2004, Fuller and Jennifer Savidge moved from Los Angeles to Texas, where they live on a ranch.

Awards

In 1961, he won the Best Actor Award in Japan, also that same year, he won the Japanese Golden Order of Merit, which was awarded to him by the Empress of Japan. Fuller was the first American ever to earn this award.[citation needed]

In 1970, he won 5 Ottos, which are the German equivalent of the Emmy award. That same year, he won the Buffalo Bill award for Outstanding Western Entertainment.[citation needed]

For his contribution to the television industry, Robert Fuller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Blvd.[citation needed]

In 1989, he won the Golden Boot Award.[citation needed]

In April 2007 Fuller was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.[citation needed]

October 12, 2007, won Silver Spur Award along with Stuart Whitman, Peter Brown, and Dean Smith, who was given a lifetime achievement award.[citation needed]

References

External links








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