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Dean Fredericks

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Title: Dean Fredericks  
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Subject: Johnny Weissmuller, Gunsmoke, Laramie (TV series), Paul Frees, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, William Schallert, Milton Caniff, Bronco (TV series), Steve Canyon, The Rifleman
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Dean Fredericks

Dean Fredericks
Born Frederick Joseph Foote
(1924-01-21)January 21, 1924
Los Angeles, California, USA
Died June 30, 1999(1999-06-30) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation Actor: Steve Canyon (1958-1959)

(1) Missing

(2) Myda Fredericks (1956-1999, his death)

Dean Fredericks (January 21, 1924–June 30, 1999) was an American actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in a 34-episode television series of the same name which aired from 1958-1959 on NBC.[1] He was born Frederick Joseph Foote in Los Angeles, California.[2] On October 31, 1942, he enlisted as a private in the 1st Cavalry Division of the United States Army and served during World War II.[1] He received a Purple Heart medal.[3]

Early career

One of Fredericks's earliest known acting roles was as a priest in the "The Lord Is Risen" segment of the 1952 film series The Living Bible, with Nelson Leigh in the role of Jesus Christ. In 1954 he played an unnamed member of a lynch mob in the western film Jesse James v. the Daltons, which again featured Nelson Leigh, this time as a priest, Father Kerrigan. That same year he played "Police Detective Curtis" in the classic science fiction film "Them!".[4]

In 1955-1956, Fredericks played Kaseem, the Hindu manservant of the lead Johnny Weismuller character in the 26-episode syndicated television series, Jungle Jim, based on a successful comic strip as well as earlier films of the same name. Martin Huston appeared in the series as Jungle Jim's teenage son, Skipper Bradford. Paul Cavanagh was cast as Commissioner Morrison in nine episodes.[5]

From 1954-1957, Fredericks guest starred six times in different roles, usually Indians, on the ABC western, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. In 1957, he appeared in the ABC military series Navy Log in the role of DeMarco in the episode "The War of the Whale Boats" and as Chalky in the segment "Lady Luck" of the syndicated adventure series Whirlybirds, starring Kenneth Tobey. That same year, he appeared in the popular ABC western Maverick (as Mitchell in "The Jeweled Gun", only the tenth episode of the long-running series) and on John Bromfield's Sheriff of Cochise, a syndicated police drama set in Arizona. He appeared three times from 1956-1958 on Clint Walker's Cheyenne, including the role of the Indian Yellow Knife in a much remembered episode "Quicksand" and as Little Chief in "The Broken Pledge".[4] On April 6, 1957, Fredericks played Gart in the episode "the Photographer" of CBS's Gunsmoke, with Sebastian Cabot in the title guest-starring role as Professor Jacoby.[6]

As Steve Canyon

In Steve Canyon Fredericks was cast as flying ace and troubleshooter Stevenson B. Canyon, a lieutenant colonel stationed at the fictitious Big Thunder Air Force Base. The episodes bear such titles as "The Korean Story", "Project UFO", "Sabotage", "Iron Curtain", "Strike Force", "Operation Crash Landing", "The Bomb", and "Operation Thunderbirds," reflecting the events of that time. Appearing with Fredericks were Jerry Paris. later of The Dick Van Dyke Show, in eleven episodes as Major Willie Williston, William Schallert three times as Major Karl Richmond, and James Drury twice as Lieutenant Richard Muller, Nelson Leigh twice as General Black, and Karl Swenson twice as Colonel Vanderhoek.[4] Marion Ross, later Mrs. Cunningham on the ABC comedy Happy Days appeared as Rita Bradshaw in the single episode entitled "Operation Zero Launch".[7]Paul Frees narrated sixteen of the episodes, and Don Taylor directed ten segments. The series had a wide array of impressive guest stars.[4] The science fiction program is available in a special edition DVD.[8]

Entertainment writer Bruce Eder found that Fredericks "looked exactly like" the Steve Canyon character as drawn by the cartoonist Milton Caniff. Eder added, "That was how Dean Fredericks became a star known to millions of baby boomers."[3] Steve Canyon toys and related products prolonged the popularity of the program in pop culture long after its initial television run.[3] The Steve Canyon series first aired at 9 p.m. Saturdays between The Perry Como Show and Cimarron City and opposite CBS's The Gale Storm Show and ABC's The Lawrence Welk Show. After a few months, it was moved to Thursday and then Tuesday evenings and did not receive the benefit of a stable time slot. The program was repeated April to September in 1960 on ABC.[9][10]

The series was sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes. The first twenty-four episodes have been released on DVD in two volumes since 2008 through the Milton Caniff estate. The remaining ten episodes will be released in a third and final DVD volume in early 2013.[11]

Other acting roles

From 1959-1960, he guest starred in the syndicated Border Patrol (as Inspector Al Moore in "Night Target"), The Deputy, (as Pete Clemson in "Silent Gun"), Laramie (as Chad Morgan in "Street of Hate"), and in the comedy, The Ann Sothern Show (as Johnson in "Common Cents"). Other 1960 roles included Shotgun Slade (as Vance in "Killer's Brand'), Sugarfoot (as Spotted Wolf in "Shadow Catcher"), Lawman (as Great Bear in "Chantay"), Bronco (as Great Wolf in "Seminole War Pipe"), and Surfside 6 (in "Girl in the Galleon").[4]

In 1961, Fredericks played Captain Frank Chapman in the film, The Phantom Planet. an unusual science fiction adventure involving an astronaut who becomes reduced in physical size and is isolated on a planetoid with a super-civilization. The film has endured in popularity for nearly a half-century.[3]

In 1962, Fredericks was cast as Jed Harvey in the episode "The Greedy Town" of CBS's Rawhide western series, starring Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. In 1962-1963, he appeared twice on Chuck Connors's ABC western, The Rifleman as Phil Carver in "Squeeze Play" and as Rance in "Requiem at Mission Springs". On May 1, 1963, he appeared in the role of Jan Wolski in the episode entitled "The Final Hour" of the NBC western The Virginian, starring James Drury and Doug McClure.[4] In 1963, he played a Comanche chief in the film Savage Sam, a sequel to Walt Disney's 1957 classic Old Yeller.[12] Dean had a cameo in the movie "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" starring Adam West and Nancy Kwan. When he was not acting he repaired automobiles for other actors and in 1963 built and designed his own car, which also had a cameo in said movie .

Fredericks appeared in four episodes of ABC's Walt Disney Presents as Crow Feather in three segments from 1960-1961 in the Daniel Boone: "The Warrior's Path", "The Wilderness Road", and "The Promised Land". His last television role was on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on February 7, 1965, as the criminal Zip Wyatt in "The Adventures of Gallegher, Part 3", starring Roger Mobley in the title role, with co-stars Edmond O'Brien, Harvey Korman, and Ray Teal.[4]

After a failed first marriage (ca. 1948-1952), the 6'3" Fredericks was married to his second wife, Myda Fredericks (1922–2006) on November 19, 1956 in Los Angeles by Judge Julian Beck (who was an ex congressman and family friend). He died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of seventy-five.[1][13]


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