Richard Carlson is well-known to the Monsters Universe as Dr. David Reed in The Creature From The Black Lagoon, the ichthyologist and friend of Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) who is part of the expedition to find the rest of an ancient skeleton in the Amazon Rainforest. Did you know that Richard Carlson’s film and television career spanned close to forty years?
Richard Carlson was born on April 29, 1912 in Albert Lea, Minnesota to Henry Carlson and Mabel Du Toit. He attended the University of Minnesota where he graduated summa cum laude with a Masters of Arts degree. In the 1930s, he started his career on Broadway before making his motion picture debut in the 1938 film, The Young in Heart. In 1939 he moved to California where he starred in comedies such as The Little Foxes and Too Many Girls, starring Lucille Ball. Richard Carlson went on to serve in World War II as a Navy pilot, putting his acting career on hold.
In 1948, Carlson’s acting career restarted when he was cast in Behind Locked Doors and The Amazing Mr. X, two low-budget film noir pictures. In 1950, he starred in the film King Solomon’s Mines starring Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger which was shot on location in Uganda, Congo and Kenya. From here, Carlson would go on to star in the World War II film Flat Top and would begin a career in science fiction films. His first sci-fi film was 1953’s The Magnificent Monster. This was followed by It Came from Outer Space starring Barbara Rush, which was also in 3D like The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Carlson’s female co-star in Creature was Julie Adams, who played his girlfriend Kay Lawrence and the lady who caught Gill-Man’s attention. Following success in the sci-fi genre, Richard Carlson starred in various films such as 1955’s The Last Command, 1960’s Tormented and 1969’s Change of Habit, his last film where he co-starred with Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore.
In addition to a long career in film, Carlson had quite the career in television. He had a number of guest roles on such shows as Riverboat, The Fugitive, Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea and Bonanza. In 1975, Carlson made his last television appearance on an episode of Khan! On November 25, 1977, Carlson died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 65. Richard Carlson had an illustrious screen career and served his country proud but us monster fans will always remember him as Dr. David Reed, the man who dared to study Gill-Man in the Black Lagoon.
(Joe Grodensky – @JoeGrodensky)