Richard Denning

This article is about the American actor. For the British author, see Richard J. Denning.
Richard Denning

Denning as Michael Shayne with Patricia Donahue as Lucy Hamilton.
Born Louis Albert Heindrich Denninger, Jr.
(1914-03-27)March 27, 1914
Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.
Died October 11, 1998(1998-10-11) (aged 84)
Escondido, California, U.S.
Cause of death Respiratory Failure
Resting place Maui Veterans Cemetery, Makawao, Hawaii
Occupation Actor
Years active 1937–1980
Spouse(s) Patricia Leffingwell (1986–1998; his death)
Evelyn Ankers (1942–1985; her death) (1 daughter)
Children Diana Dwyer[1]

Richard Denning (March 27, 1914 – October 11, 1998)[2] was an American actor best known for starring in science fiction films of the 1950s, including Unknown Island (1948), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Target Earth (1954), Day the World Ended (1955), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), and The Black Scorpion (1957). Denning also appeared in the film An Affair to Remember (1957) with Cary Grant and on radio with Lucille Ball, as George and Liz Cooper, in My Favorite Husband (1948–1951), the forerunner of television's I Love Lucy.


Denning was born as Louis Albert Heindrich Denninger, Jr., in Poughkeepsie, New York. He became an actor, best known for his recurring starring roles in various science fiction and horror films of the 1950s. In later life, he had a recurring role as the fictitious governor of Hawaii, Paul Jameson, in the CBS television crime drama series, Hawaii Five-O (1968–1980), starring Jack Lord. He also starred as the title character in the detective series Michael Shayne (1960–1961) and shared title billing with Barbara Britton in the detective series Mr. and Mrs. North (1952–1954). He was later cast as Dr. Greg Graham in the 1959 series, The Flying Doctor.

He appeared three times on the ABC religion anthology series Crossroads, as Dr. Ira Langston in "Chinese Checkers" (1955) and as the Reverend George Bolton in "The Bowery Bishop" and as the Reverend Lloyd E. Williams in "The Pure White Orchid" (both 1956).[3]

Denning's wife Evelyn Ankers

According to Denning, his military service during World War II in the United States Navy effectively disrupted his acting career, and after his discharge from military service it would be another year and a half before Paramount Pictures offered Denning any more acting work. During that time period, Denning and his family lived in a mobile home that he alternately parked at Malibu and Palm Springs. His period of unemployment ended when he was hired to star on the radio opposite Lucille Ball in My Favorite Husband.[4] Denning later appeared in several 'B' crime drama films before starring in a number of science fiction and horror films. In 1957, he began the first of what would become a steady series of television appearances, usually as a supporting character, though he did star briefly in two television dramas, The Flying Doctor (1959), and Michael Shayne (1960–61).

In 1968, Denning completed his last film, a comedy titled "I Sailed to Tahiti with an All-Girl Crew." Semi-retired and living on the island of Maui with his wife, Denning was contacted by producer Leonard Freeman, who offered him the supporting role as the governor of Hawaii in the TV detective series, "Hawaii Five-O." In order to persuade Denning to sign on in the recurring role, Freeman guaranteed Denning five-hour days and a four-day work week.[5]

Personal life

Denning was married to 1940s horror film queen Evelyn Ankers (co-star of The Wolf Man, Ghost of Frankenstein and Son of Dracula), who retired from films at the age of thirty-two after they were married. After Ankers' death from cancer in 1985, Denning remarried, to Patricia Leffingwell. Denning and Ankers are buried at Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao, Hawaii.[2]


Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1937 Hold 'em Navy Midshipman Jepson
1937 Wells Fargo uncredited
1938 Buccaneer, TheThe Buccaneer Captain Reid
1938 Big Broadcast of 1938, TheThe Big Broadcast of 1938 Officer, S.S. Gigantic uncredited
1938 Her Jungle Love Pilot
1938 College Swing Student uncredited
1938 You and Me
1938 Texans, TheThe Texans Cpl. Parker
1938 Give Me a Sailor Sailor uncredited
1938 Campus Confessions Buck Hogan
1938 King of Alcatraz Harry Vay
1938 Touchdown, Army Cadet uncredited
1938 Arkansas Traveler, TheThe Arkansas Traveler
1938 Illegal Traffic Silk Patterson
1938 Say It in French Elevator Passenger uncredited
1939 Ambush Police Garage Mechanic
1939 Persons in Hiding Powder, Henchman
1939 King of Chinatown First Intern
1939 I'm from Missouri Plane Pilot
1939 Sudden Money Johnny Jordan
1939 Union Pacific Reporter uncredited
1939 Hotel Imperial uncredited
1939 Some Like It Hot Mr. Weems
1939 Undercover Doctor Frank Oliver
1939 The Gracie Allen Murder Case Fred
1939 Grand Jury Secrets Murph
1939 Million Dollar Legs Hunk Jordan
1939 Star Maker, TheThe Star Maker Assistant Dance Director uncredited
1939 Television Spy Dick Randolph
1939 Disputed Passage Student uncredited
1939 Our Neighbors – The Carters Pilot uncredited
1939 Geronimo Lt. Larned
1939 Night of Nights, TheThe Night of Nights Call Boy
1940 Emergency Squad Dan Barton
1940 Parole Fixer Bruce Eaton
1940 Farmer's Daughter, TheThe Farmer's Daughter Dennis Crane
1940 Seventeen Jack
1940 Queen of the Mob Charlie Webster
1940 Those Were the Days! Briggs
1940 Golden Gloves Bill Crane
1940 Northwest Mounted Police Const. Thornton
1940 Love Thy Neighbor
1941 Adam Had Four Sons Jack Stoddard (older)
1941 West Point Widow Lt. Rhody Graves
1942 Beyond the Blue Horizon Jackra the Magnificent
1942 Glass Key, TheThe Glass Key Taylor Henry
1942 Quiet Please, Murder Hal McByrne
1942 Ice-Capades Revue Jeff
1944 Golden Gloves
1946 Black Beauty Bill Dixon
1946 The Fabulous Suzanne Rex
1947 Seven Were Saved Captain Allen Danton
1948 Caged Fury Blaney Lewis
1948 Lady at Midnight Peter Wiggins
1948 Unknown Island John Fairbanks
1948 Disaster Bill Wyatt
1950 No Man of Her Own Hugh Harkness
1950 Harbor of Missing Men Jim 'Brooklyn' Gannon
1950 Double Deal Buzz Doyle
1951 Bigelow Theatre, TheThe Bigelow Theatre TV series, episode: "The Hot Welcome"
1951 Secrets of Beauty Dr. John Waldron
1951 Flame of Stamboul Larry Wilson
1951 Insurance Investigator Tom Davison
1951 Week-End with Father Don Adams
1952 Okinawa Lt. Phillips
1952 Scarlet Angel Malcolm Bradley
1952 - 1953 Mr. and Mrs. North Jerry North TV series on CBS, 56 episodes total
1952 Cavalcade of America TV series episode: "The Man Who Took a Chance"
1952 Hangman's Knot Lee Kemper
1953 Target Hong Kong Mike Lassiter
1953 Ford Television Theatre Dr. James Baker TV series, episode: "The Doctor's Downfall"
1953 49th Man, TheThe 49th Man Chief Investigator Paul Reagan
1953 Glass Web, TheThe Glass Web Dave Markson
1954 Jivaro Jerry Russell
1954 Ford Television Theatre George Beagle TV series, episode: "The Legal Beagles"
1954 Battle of Rogue River Stacey Wyatt
1954 Creature from the Black Lagoon Dr. Mark Williams
1954 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars TV series, episode: "Tapu"
1954 Mr. and Mrs. North Jerry North TV series on NBC, 56 episodes total (both networks)
1954 Target Earth Frank Brooks
1955 TV Reader's Digest Don Wilkerson TV series, episode: "I'll Pick More Daisies"
1955 Ford Television Theatre Tim Barker TV series, episode: "All That Glitters"
1955 Air Strike Cmdr. Stanley Blair
1955 The Magnificent Matador Mark Russell
1955 Creature with the Atom Brain Dr. Chet Walker
1955 Gun That Won the West, TheThe Gun That Won the West 'Dakota' Jack Gaines
1955 Crooked Web, TheThe Crooked Web Frank Daniel
1955 the World Ended, DayDay the World Ended Rick
1956 Cheyenne Capt. Quinlan TV series, episode: "Decision"
1956 Celebrity Playhouse William Broder TV series, episode: "Bachelor Husband"
1956 Oklahoma Woman, TheThe Oklahoma Woman Steve Ward
1956 Girls in Prison Rev. Fulton
1956 Crossroads Dr. Ira Langston TV series, episode: "Chinese Checkers"
1956 Crossroads Rev. George Bolton TV series, episode: "The Bowery Bishop"
1956 Crossroads Reverend Lloyd E. Williams TV series, episode: "The Pure White Orchid"
1956 Assignment Redhead Major Gregory Keen
1956 Ford Television Theatre Barney Maddock TV series, episode: "Double Trouble
1956 Ford Television Theatre Davy Jones TV series, episode: "On the Beach"
1957 Ford Television Theatre Charlie Frye TV series, episode: "The Idea Man"
1957 Affair to Remember, AnAn Affair to Remember Kenneth Bradley
1957 Buckskin Lady, TheThe Buckskin Lady Dr. Bruce Merritt
1957 Black Scorpion, TheThe Black Scorpion Hank Scott
1957 General Electric Theater Dr. Mark Andrews TV series, episode: "Eyes of a Stranger"
1958 General Electric Theater Jim Kendall TV series, episode: "Letters from Cairo"
1958 Lady Takes a Flyer, TheThe Lady Takes a Flyer Al Reynolds
1958 Studio One Jack Marshall TV series, episode: "The Laughing Willow"
1958 Desert Hell Sgt. Major Pierre Benet
1959 Flying Doctor, TheThe Flying Doctor Dr. Greg Graham TV series, 39 episodes
1960 No Greater Love
1960–1961 Michael Shayne Michael Shayne TV series, 32 episodes
1963 Going My Way Larry TV series, episode: "Don't Forget to Say Goodbye"
1963 Twice-Told Tales Jonathan Maulle
1964–1965 Karen Steve Scott TV series, 27 episodes
1966 Alice Through the Looking Glass Alice's Father
1968 I Sailed to Tahiti With an All Girl Crew Commodore
1968 I Spy Delaney TV series, episode: "This Guy Smith"
1968–1980 Hawaii Five-O Governor Paul Jameson TV series, 69 episodes
1974 McCloud Edgar Hamilton TV series, episode: "A Cowboy in Paradise"
1980 Asphalt Cowboy, TheThe Asphalt Cowboy Charles Van Heuran


  2. 1 2 Richard Denning at Find a Grave
  3. "Richard Denning". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  4. Thomas, Bob (4 Sep 1968). "Richard Denning Tells About His Island Life". Ocala Star-Banner.
  5. Hefferman, Harold (20 July 1970). "Denning High on Hawaii". The Pittsburgh Press.
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