Victor French

Active - 1960 - 1984  |   Born - Dec 4, 1934 in Santa Barbara, California  |   Died - Jun 15, 1989   |   Genres - Drama

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The son of a movie stunt man, Victor French made his screen entree in westerns, where his unkempt beard and scowling countenance made him a perfect heavy. He carried over his robbin' and rustlin' activities into television, making multiple appearances on such series as Gunsmoke and Bonanza. It was former Bonanza star Michael Landon, a great friend of French's, who "humanized" the veteran screen villain with the role of farmer Isiah Edwards in the weekly TV drama Little House on the Prairie. French temporarily left Little House in 1977 to star in his own sitcom, Carter Country, in which he played an affable Southern sheriff who tried his best to accommodate the ever-changing racial relationships of the 1970s. In 1984, Landon cast French as ex-cop Michael Gordon, whose bitterness at the world was softened by the presence of a guardian angel (Landon), in the popular TV series Highway to Heaven. French directed every third episode of this series, extending his directorial activities to the Los Angeles theatre scene, where he won a Critics Circle award for his staging of 12 Angry Men. In contrast to his earlier bad-guy roles, French went out of his way in the 1980s to avoid parts that required him to exhibit cruelty or inhumanity. Victor French died in 1989, shortly after completing work on the final season of Highway to Heaven.

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