"His Face is So Ugly, It's Beautiful"

(Quotes From and About Richard Boone)

Early Life

"Boone's mother says Dick was an 'interesting' child who had a deep voice at three-and-a-half and at five spoke in big sentences with great solemnity." - Writer Lee Edson, 1960

"As a child, Dick was already intense and sensitive and impulsive, just as he is today. He had a rebelliousness about him, too, as evidenced during his primary schooling at the Army and Navy Academy in San Diego. One day in Latin class, he got up from his desk, walked to the window, and clambered out. 'I was just bored with the subject,' Dick explained." - Writer George Carpozi, Jr., 1962

"I was born with a lot of horsepower. There was a lot cooking inside me, a lot of energy, and Dad was a strong man by will and by intelligence, and the combination of us was almost bound to result in periodic explosions. He and I disagreed politically, very violently, and things would get hectic around the house." - Richard Boone, 1961

World War II

"[Boone] was bombed while serving on the Enterprise, torpedoed on the Intrepid, and attacked by kamikaze planes on the Hancock. 'We began to think somebody was trying to kill us,' he says." - Writer Richard Gehman, 1961


"It's the little breaks that count. There was a routine call to do a one-shot radio summer show, and four years later somebody remembers it and all the sudden I'm the guy in Medic." - RB, 1955

"Boone is also an advocate of the thinking actor, despite a memorable quip once made to him by Nunnally Johnson, the movie man and wit. Boone had approached Johnson on the set of The Desert Fox to discuss some routine matter of performance. 'Nunnally,' he began, 'I think...' Johnson cut him off. 'For that, you get a stunt check,' he said." - Writer Dwight Whitney, 1960

"Like [George C.] Scott, Dick has a sponge-like brain for acting. His instincts and techniques are perfect. Only he and Scott, among all American actors today, can dominate the screen with such power." - Actor Harry Morgan, 1974

"...[Boone] has the knack of making a character believable by just standing off to one side and slouching..." - Writer Don Miller, 1963

"Dick's the most physical actor I know...When he plays anger, some of the other actors actually back away from him. But I think that's where his appeal lies. You want to be on his team, even if he does scare you. Or maybe because he does." - Film producer Robert Enders, 1961

"[Boone] acts with such intense realism...that he has the ability to evoke great performances from others. In one rehearsal the late Victor McLaglen actually became so emotionally wrapped up in his role that he hauled off and aimed a reasonably genuine haymaker at Boone's chin. When director Andy McLaglen, Victor's six-foot-seven son, called a halt, Victor was still trembling from the violence of his emotions." - L. Edson, 1960


"It's the director who has all the fun. Any time a camera is involved it's the director who tells the story, more than the writer, producer or anybody else. And that's what I want to do." - RB, 1960

"When I direct, I have only one request: 'Please, God, let the actor I'm directing put it all out there!' I'll take care of the excess. I'll trim it. But, don't give me an actor I have to light a fire under. Let him bite the scenery and I'll cut away the excess!" - RB, 1972


"I was a father figure. I used to get letters by the hundreds. Many of them asked me to diagnose some illnesses; those that didn't said I had an interesting face. Fortunately, Paladin came along soon, so I could trade my stethoscope for a six-gun." - RB, 1960

Paladin and Have Gun--Will Travel

"Few actors are so perfectly cast for their roles. Paladin of Have Gun--Will Travel is a cultured, sophisticated and sensitive man who is also a man of action. So is Boone." - R. Gehman, '61

"Paladin is a character people seem to like. He's an intriguing sort of guy with an air of mystery about him." - RB, 1958

"I guess [Paladin] is so attractive to women because he's so formidable, yet so gentle at the same time." - RB, 1962

"[A] high school teacher wrote Boone, 'Yours is the only Western I recommend to my students. You speak English'." - L. Edson, 1960

"...Boone [as Paladin] was recently in the midst of a gun war that saw four men killed and himself creased. When the last gun echo had died away, Boone cracked, 'There is a certain similarity between this and George Bernard Shaw, but I can't quite put my finger on it.'" - writer Arnold Hano, 1958

"I give out lots of the calling cards Paladin uses in the stories, which are lettered 'Have Gun--Will Travel' and say underneath, 'Wire Paladin, San Francisco.' At the last count I had disposed of around 84,000 of them. Naturally, lots of people do wire me. Once I received a telegram signed 'Georgia football fans' which read, 'DEAR PAL: PLEASE KILL COACH TUBBS IMMEDIATELY.' At New Year's, when I rode my horse in the Tournament of Roses parade, one of the spectators yelled, 'Hey Paladin, I've got a job for you'--but I never found out what. Just then, the woman with him conked him with her handbag." - RB, 1959

"What Paladin does to viewers, other than to entertain them, is not my business. What he does to my son is my business. So here's how I handle it: First I make no effort in Peter's presence to demean my work or knock Paladin. But I never let the importance of this fictional character overshadow the importance of Peter to me." - RB, 1959

"[Dad] never made me feel I had to live up to him; he always said he wanted me to be better than he was, and he meant it. I've tried to encourage my children the same way." - Peter Boone, 1997

The Rivalry (1959 Broadway play which starred RB as Abraham Lincoln)

"Richard Boone is a raw-boned, ruminative Lincoln, swathed in the melancholy that we associate with the man, yet suggesting beneath it a moral certitude as unswerving as a planet's course. Mr. Boone's voice, alternately musing and impassioned, matches in richness the prose it is called on to enounce." - critic Kenneth Tynan, 1959

The Richard Boone Show

"I was impressed not only with the repertory theater idea, but with Boone, Odets and their group. This could be the greatest thing ever presented, or it could attract very little audience. But we felt it was the kind of thing TV should try." - Robert Kintner, then president of NBC, August 1963

"Nobody will ever dare give this company less than his best. Nobody--and that includes me." - RB, September 1963

"The range is wide, the characterizations are as original as the idea, and the acting is nothing short of superb." - Critic Cleveland Amory, October 1963

"I've had a busted nose for various roles, for instance. Everybody is always getting different noses. We've done nine shows now, and Bethel Leslie has already had three different noses." - RB, November 1963 (explaining why the cast had plaster "life masks" made of their faces).

"I'm glad you added those words of caution in evaluating the first Nielsen ratings of the season, for I would really hate to think that anyone REALLY believed them. How in the world Petticoat Junction made it and The Richard Boone Show missed is beyond me." - Viewer letter to "TV Guide," November 1963

"I believe a show such as ours builds an audience slowly. Week after week, we do the best we know how, and the word gets around. I think that, given time, we'll do all right in the ratings, especially with the adult viewers. Nobody expected a series of dramas to outrate a comedy show; that hasn't been the history of television." - RB, November 1963

"Richard Boone...arrived at the studio one morning last January to read some upsetting news in his morning trade paper. His show...was being dropped by the network. Reading a little further, Boone exploded. Mort Werner, NBC vice president in charge of programming, 'yesterday had advised Boone that his show would not be renewed...' This was odd because Boone had not spoken to Werner for at least two weeks." - "TV Guide," March 1964

"This was a completely cavalier pulling out of the rug. Of course, a thing like this is hard to separate out. There is a great deal of personal hurt, disappointment, chagrin, professional embarrassment, and a helluva lot of anger and resentment that the thinking people of this country are being disenfranchised by Nielsen's nitwits." - RB, March 1964

"After reading your March 14 'A Coroner's Report' on The Richard Boone Show, my blood pressure went sky high. Whoever in their right minds would call Petticoat Junction a real television show? Plaudits for Paladin and phooey to Petticoat." - Viewer letter to "TV Guide," March 1964

"The Richard Boone Show...was an artistic achievement and it will be interesting indeed to see what sort of tripe NBC will try to foist on us this coming September in this time slot." - Viewer letter to "TV Guide," February 1964

Hec Ramsey

"I like this Hec Ramsey. He's dead honest. He walks right through all the ridiculous standards of Victorian America. He's Paladin, from Have Gun--Will Travel, grown older. If Paladin had lived all those years, he would have run out of patience with the idiots and would've gotten as grumpy as Hec. He would have said to the dame, 'Lady, you're not in distress. You're just stupid.'" - RB, 1974

"You know, Hec Ramsey is a lot like Paladin, only fatter." - RB, 1972

"Ramsey is a cantankerous SOB so I felt qualified to play him. He's an iconoclast, a non-conformist and a rough old bear. He doesn't like pretense and the word 'compromise' isn't in his vocabulary. He's my kind of guy and I like playing him." - RB, 1973


"Looks, of course, are totally subjective. Though by no stretch of the imagination could Boone be called handsome, he is far better looking in person than on-screen where he plays Paladin. His eyes are pale blue, his hair is brown, and his mustache so fair it looks blond under strong light. [Boone says] 'They use a little pencil on it, but mostly it's the magenta light they photograph me under that makes me look so dark.'" - A. Hano, 1958

"Not a handsome man by Hollywood standards, Boone has a nose faintly reminiscent of the late W. C. Fields and pale blue eyes that cannot be described as deep or burning or penetrating. He has had to crash Hollywood on the strength of his craftsmanship and abundant energy." - TV Guide, 1958

"...[Boone's] face, of which a girl I once knew said, 'It's so ugly, it's beautiful,' could be that of a medieval seignuer about to exercise his droit. A medieval seignuer, I might add, recently stung by hunting wasps, for the face is pocked and puffy, and, in Boone's words, more 'interesting' than handsome." - R. Gehman, '61

"...a magnificently ruined face..." - Writer Richard Schickel, 1961

"...his frown, a magnificently savage front of arched eyebrow and tight lip, can cower a badman at twenty paces." - L. Edson, 1960


"Called one of the most outrageous dressers in Hollywood, [Boone] wears such fantastic garments as purple Capri pants and white burlap jackets lined with black silk. On working days he is apt to dress more conservatively--in red-checkered clam-digger shorts, perhaps, and a turtleneck sweater and sandals." -L. Edson, 1960

"...And the black shirt and trousers are actually midnight blue. Only Paladin's hat and boots are black." - A. Hano, 1958


"Have I changed? Maybe success was necessary for me. I believe that unless I achieved it I would be a pretty miserable beast. Maybe I am a miserable beast. But now that I've got success, in some measure, I can decide what I want--and what I want, in a word, is to do the best work I can under the best possible conditions." - RB, 1961

"You have to use the power you acquire to protect the integrity of what you're doing. And to do that, you have to be prepared to go all the way. If you have the strength to do that, you're in pretty good shape." - RB, 1961