• 19 November 1902
  •  Dallas, Texas, USA

Richard Alexander


An actor whose filmography comprises 307 films and TV series episodes can't have been in 307 memorable works. Which is the case of Richard (aka Dick) Alexander, one of those numerous character actors Hollywood used to over-consume without giving them the opportunity to really display their talents. Too bad because during the years 1926-1931, Alexander looked set to have an interesting career with supporting roles alongside Olga Baclanova (Lou's sweetheart in Josef von Sternberg's The Docks of New York (1928)), Bebe Daniels (Gonzales in Rio Rita (1929) and even the Divine Greta Garbo (The general's aide in The Mysterious Lady (1928). He also appeared in Lewis Milestone's antiwar masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) as a German soldier. Unfortunately this was to be his swan song - with only a couple of exceptions such as Destination Unknown (1933) or The Scarlet Empress (1934)). As of 1931, Richard Alexander was to be hired either for minor (at times even very minor) parts in A Films (a warrior in The Crusades (1935), a farmer in The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), a man with a pike in Marie Antoinette (1938)) or for supporting parts in hordes of mediocre westerns. Richard Alexander's tall figure, strong build and square-jawed face actually killed his career. The fault lies with the laziness of casting directors: Richard Alexander had given a good performance as a henchman in The Lone Star Ranger (1930), well, he would be a brutal henchman in every two run-of-the-mill westerns. Among the 300-odd roles he played, he was cast forty times as a henchman, no less! And if he was not the villain of the piece he was often credited as a strong, big, burly or tough guy. Sure he always made a good job of it but Richard Alexander had shown at the outset of his career how varied his acting could be and he would certainly rather not have repeated the same type of character over and over again. That is why playing Prince Barin, Buster Crabbe's loyal ally in the Flash Gordon (1936) serial must have been a breath of fresh air for him. Whatever the case may be, Richard Alexander continued bravely to be tough and burly on the screen, not retiring before the age of 72. Towards the end of his career, the aging performer also became an active member of the Screen Actors Guild, representing Hollywood extras. In 1989,Alexander passed away more or less forgotten in spite of his 307 screen appearances. He was 86.