Richard Carlson received his M.A. at the University of Minnesota and taught there briefly before working in the theater as an actor, director, and writer. He appeared on Broadway, then was brought to Hollywood in 1938 by David O. Selznick, who hired him as a writer assigned to work on the film The Young at Heart; Janet Gaynor, the film's star, urged that he appear in the movie, which became his debut. After that, he had lead and costarring roles in many films of the '30s, '40s, and '50s. Typecast early in his career as a diffident juvenile, he had trouble breaking out of the mold and landing more mature roles; he tended to appear in monster flicks and B-movies in the '50s. He turned to directing in that decade, beginning with Riders to the Stars (1954), which he also wrote and in which he acted. Besides acting and directing, he also became a magazine writer and wrote scripts for TV. Carlson starred in the TV series I Led Three Lives and McKenzie's Raiders and appeared in episodes of numerous others.