Leif Erickson (actor)

This article is about the 20th-century American actor. For the 11th-century Viking explorer, see Leif Erikson. For the politician, see Leif Erickson (politician).
Leif Erickson
Born William Wycliffe Anderson
(1911-10-27)October 27, 1911
Alameda, California, U.S.
Died January 29, 1986(1986-01-29) (aged 74)
Pensacola, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1933–1984
Spouse(s) Frances Farmer (m. 1936–42)
Margaret Hayes (m. 1942)
Ann Diamond (m. 1945–86) (his death) 2 children

Leif Erickson (October 27, 1911 – January 29, 1986) was an American stage, film, and television actor.


Born William Wycliffe Anderson in Alameda, California near San Francisco, Erickson worked as a soloist in a band as vocalist and trombone player, performed in Max Reinhardt's productions, and then gained a small amount of stage experience in a comedy vaudeville act. Initially billed by Paramount Pictures as Glenn Erickson, he began his screen career as a leading man in westerns. Erickson's first films were two 1933 band films with Betty Grable before starting a string of Buster Crabbe western films based on Zane Grey novels. Erickson took 4 years off to serve in the United States Navy during World War II as a combat photographer. Erickson served as an instructor, was shot down twice in the Pacific, and was twice wounded.[1]


Erickson appeared in films such as The Snake Pit, Sorry, Wrong Number, Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, Invaders from Mars, On the Waterfront, A Gathering of Eagles, Roustabout, The Carpetbaggers, and Mirage.[2]

One of his more notable roles was as Deborah Kerr's macho husband in the stage and film versions of Tea and Sympathy. He appeared with Greta Garbo, as her brother in Conquest (1937). He played the role of Pete, the vindictive boat engineer, in the 1951 remake of the famed musical Show Boat. His final appearance in a feature film was in Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977).

Erickson appeared frequently on television. Erickson was cast as Dr. Hillyer in "Consider Her Ways" (1964) and as Paul White in "The Monkey's Paw—A Retelling" (1965) on CBS's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He starred in The High Chaparral, as Big John Cannon, which aired on NBC from 1967 until 1971. He portrayed a rancher determined to establish a cattle empire in the Arizona Territory. He guest-starred in several TV series, including Rawhide, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Marcus Welby, M.D., Medical Center, Cannon, The Rifleman,The Rockford Files, and the 1977 espionage series Hunter. His final role was in an episode of Fantasy Island in 1984.[3]

Personal life

Erickson was married to actress Frances Farmer from 1936 until 1942. The same day that his divorce from Farmer was finalized, June 12, 1942, he married actress Margaret Hayes—however, they divorced a month later. He married Ann Diamond in 1945. They had two children, William "Bill" Leif (born 1946) and Susan Irene (born 1950). His son Bill died in a car accident in 1971. Erickson died of cancer in Pensacola, Florida on January 29, 1986, aged 74.[4]

Selected filmography


  1. "The Day Leif Erickson Faced Death". The High Chaparral. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  2. "Profile". Blockbuster.com. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  3. "Fantasy Island - Goin' on Home/Ambitious Lady". IMDB. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  4. "Profile". Thehighchaparral.com. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
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