Do you need a good looking man of a questionable character? Allow me to introduce you to Richard Jaeckel.
Okay, he more than likely wasn’t of questionable character outside of the roles he played and not all of the roles he did play were of questionable character, but he did play the mime rapist on that one episode of Little House on the Prairie, so yeah, I’m going to side-eye him forever for that.
He was Tony Gentry on Frontier Circus, Lt. Pete McNeil on Banyon, Hank Meyers on Firehouse, Jack Klinger on Salvage 1, Maj. Hawkins on At Ease, Lt. Martin Quirk on Spenser: For Hire, and Ben Edwards on Baywatch, and with 187 credits on IMDB going back to 1943, many of them for TV shows, you’ve probably seen him in something, most likely a Western.
He did multiple stints on Gunsmoke, but the episode I remember best is a final season entry called “Larkin”, in which he plays an outlaw pursued by bounty hunters who happens to run into Newly and is taken into custody. Newly is hurt during the course of the action and he struggles to make it back to Dodge City with Larkin in tow and bounty hunters right behind them. Larkin is a killer and he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the bounty hunters and the law, but better the devil that would rather take you in alive. It’s a tightrope of nuance and tension that Richard Jaeckel walks brilliantly.
He also put in appearances on other Westerns such as Bonanza, The Virginian, The Wild Wild West, Wagon Train, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Rebel, and The Oregon Trail.
Mr. Jaeckel made a brief, but memorable appearance in an episode of Emergency! called “Kids”, in which he successful defends a man of abusing his stepson. His unapologetic demeanor endears him to no one, particularly Dr. Brackett, and definitely not the audience, especially at the end of the episode when the actually guilty stepfather sends the stepson to Rampart General once again.
Frequently cast in roles as a member of the military, he turned up in episodes of Black Sheep Squadron, Combat!, and China Beach. His penchant for playing police officers and criminals alike landed him on shows like Ironside, Perry Mason, McCloud, Baretta, and The Naked City. He also dealt with his share of private detectives in episodes of Charlie’s Angels, Cannon, and 77 Sunset Strip.
He tangled with the feds on The FBI, The Untouchables, and O’Hara, US Treasury; showed up on both The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; went to paradise on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Big Hawaii; got sci-fi on The Time Tunnel and The Outer Limits; found himself in the presence of criminally brilliant minds on Murder, She Wrote and Ellery Queen; made news on Lou Grant, spied on Mission: Impossible, and went big on Dallas.
No matter what show he turned up on and no matter what state his character’s character might have been, Richard Jaeckle is always an impressive presence.
Nothing questionable about that.