D is for Richard Deacon

deacon2There are only two television shows for which I own the entire series on DVD, and they have several things in common.

Both, The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and the The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), aired around the same time on CBS-TV. They each featured actors that were not born in my hometown of Binghamton, NY, but who grew up there, attending Binghamton Central High School in the same time frame.

One, of course, was Rod Serling, creator and host of TZ. The other was Richard Deacon, the guy who played Mel Cooley, the put-upon producer of the Alan Brady Show, the fictitious variety show within the Van Dyke show, and not incidentally, Alan’s brother-in-law.

Richard Deacon was born in Philadelphia, PA on May 14, 1921. According to someone on a Binghamton list in Facebook, he eventually lived on Crary Street in Binghamton with his parents, Joseph and Ethel, and one sibling.

At BCHS, he was in the Dramatics Club playing the role of the doctor in “Kind Lady” in 1938, and one of the elders in “Ruth of Moab” in 1940. He was in the percussion section of the school’s band for a time.

Richard, like me 30 years later, also participated in the “Red Cross Representatives” program at BCHS.
Richard Deacon ad
Besides the Van Dyke show, he was best known for playing Fred Rutherford, Clarence (aka Lumpy) Rutherford’s father, in the TV series Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963).

The IMDB notes: “Stage legend Helen Hayes told Deacon that he would never become a leading man but encouraged him to become a character actor,” which he did.

He was well regarded as a gourmet cook.

Richard Deacon appeared in a 1964 episode of the Twilight Zone, The Brain Center at Whipple’s. I’ve read that he was present at the premiere of Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1983 in Binghamton, though I did not see him there. He died of hypertensive heart disease the very next year at the age of 63.

In 1990, the city of Binghamton honored Rod Serling with a plaque, and the following year, it was decided to expand the program to have a Sidewalk of the Stars, and Richard Deacon was one of the first inductees. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair, but found a new home in the Forum Theater in 2014.
abc 17 (1)
ABC Wednesday – Round 17

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

18 thoughts on “D is for Richard Deacon”

  1. OMG…you’re taking me back! I do remember him but had no idea he had been a gourmet cook! And what a connection you have to him, too.

    leslie
    abcw team

  2. Roger, you have excellent taste in old television shows…mostly because it parallels mine. I, too, spent a fortune on those DVD DVDs, but fortunately ran out of shelf space before committing to all those Twilight Zone episodes, which I used to studiously collect as reruns before even the advent of home video.

    That said, I can’t believe you got through a Richard Deacon/Twilight Zone retrospective, without mentioning the fact that Richard actually starred in one!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brain_Center_at_Whipple%27s

  3. I remember both tv-series… long time ago… probably repeated on a (much?) later date in The Netherlands,,

    The Twilight Zone was one of my favorite those days. As there were very little sf-series at that time

    Bye bye

  4. Thanks for the info, Roger. My (now deceased) dad, Robert Harsh, went to school at BCHS with Rod Serling. He did not mention if he knew Richard Deacon. My dad also lived on Crary Avenue, but as it is a rather long street, he may not have lived on a nearby section with the Deacons. Always good to hear of the history of Binghamton. I live in Sunrise Terrace, as I have all my life, just on the north outskirts of the Binghamton city line, and also went to BCHS, as have my own kids. Wonderful place to live and it has a rich history and several notables hailing from the area. Thanks again for your posts and caring.

  5. Richard Deacon was a friend of my aunt’s. Apparently a wonderful man.

    FYI, more Twilight Zone, English teacher Helen Foley was immortalized in a character on Twiles. The teacher who meets the little girl? Character was named Helen Foley! Per John Kellogg, who taught English with Helen at BHS. amy, former Bingo Babe

  6. Wow ! Roger, What amazing connections you have.
    I’m afraid the only show I can connect with is
    The Dick Van Dyke Show, and who can forget his
    part as the chimney sweep in that amazing musical,
    ‘Mary Poppins’ with Julie Andrews, they really connected,
    His dancing on the roofs of London Town with the
    chimney sweeps, ‘Step in Line’ was sublime.
    His Cockney / Atlantic accent amused me, but he did play
    a brilliant part, ‘Cor Blimey Mary Poppins’, always comes
    to mind, a great talent indeed.
    Also the role he played in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was fab,
    I loved his crazy uncle who couldn’t stop laughing and floating
    on the ceiling, so funny!

    Best wishes,
    Di.
    ABCW team.

  7. I do like quaint adverts. I think wheeling an oven in might kill the romance of an evening but not as much as finding one as your present under the Christmas tree, LOL.

  8. Hooray for the Triple Cities! Born and raised there! Thanks for your article!

    –From Dayton, Ohio.

  9. I loved both shows, and am a Richard Deacon fan. I was surprised to read he was a gourmet cook. I’m going to do a search and see I find any more info on that.

    Great post, love all the information!

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