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C Entries
Edward L. Cahn
James Cameron
Lewis John Carlino
Richard Carlson
John Carradine
Helena Bonham Carter
Leo G. Carroll
Maurice Cass
Lon Chaney
Lon Chaney, Jr.
John Cho
Arthur C. Clarke
Phyllis Coates
Joan Collins
Sir Sean Connery
Roger Corman
Buster Crabbe
Richard Crane
Tom Cruise
Peter Cushing
 
CARLSON, RICHARD
(1912–1977). American actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: Beyond Tomorrow (A. Edward Sutherland 1940); The Ghost Breakers (George Marshall 1940); Hold That Ghost (Arthur LUBIN 1941); The Spiritualist [The Amazing Dr. X] (Bernard Vorhaus 1948); King Solomon's Mines (Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton 1950); "Duel in Glencairn" (1951), episode of Lights Out; The Maze (William Cameron MENZIES 1953); The Magnetic Monster (Curt SIODMAK 1953); It Came from Outer Space (Jack ARNOLD 1953); Creature from the Black Lagoon (Arnold 1954); "Hemo the Magnificent," "The Strange Case of the Cosmic Ray" (1957), "The Unchained Goddess" (1958), episodes of Bell Science Series (science documentaries with fictional frames); "Turn Back the Clock" (1958), episode of Nightmare; Tormented (Bert I. GORDON 1960); "Kill My Love" (1962), episode of Thriller; "The Village of Guilt" (1964), episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; The Doomsday Flight (tv movie) (William A. Graham 1966); The Power (Bryon HASKIN 1968); The Valley of Gwangi (James O'Connolly 1969).

Directed: Riders to the Stars (also appeared in) (1954); episodes of Men into Space (1959–1960); "Choose a Victim" (1961), episode of Thriller.

Co-wrote with Ivan TORS: Island of the Lost (tv movie) (1968).

 
For one shining moment in 1953, Richard Carlson was the king of the world of science fiction. His astronomer John Putnam in Jack ARNOLD's It Came from Outer Space is one of the great performances of science fiction film, as he perfectly represents the intelligence, passion, curiosity, and altruism that virtually define the scientist-hero—someone capable of seeing beyond what appears to be a sinister Invasion of the Body Snatchers to recognize, and champion the cause, of benign alien visitors in need. His fervent speeches on behalf of vision and openness to the unknown, aided by traces of eloquence left behind from Ray BRADBURY's otherwise butchered script, can still move audiences to this day. If Gene RODDENBERRY had been casting Star Trek in 1953, he would have chosen Carlson to play Captain Kirk, and he couldn't have made a better choice.

Unfortunately, this transcendent performance came when Carlson was already forty-one years old and, one suspects, already starting to feel a bit old and tired, content to be selective in expending his energies on the set. Only looking up to the stars could truly inspire Carlson, so that his only other memorable roles came in Riders to the Stars, which he directed and acted in with desperate conviction, as if genuinely convinced that the film's silly mission to capture meteorites and study how they survived their passage through the atmosphere had meaning if viewed as a necessary prelude to humanity's conquest of space, and in an episode of Bell Science Series, "The Strange Case of the Cosmic Ray," still the mostly delightfully dramatized science documentary in the history of the genre. When his gaze was fixed on the ground, he just didn't seem to care as much; thus, he was merely competent in The Magnetic Monster and Creature from the Black Lagoon, and he appeared discomfited amidst the shenanigans of The Maze and Tormented.

Prior to his successes in the 1950s, Carlson had been acting in Hollywood for fifteen years, gaining little notice for playing the male ingenue in Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello haunted-house comedies and other supporting roles. One might think that, after excelling in his cosmic encounters of the 1950s, Carlson would specialize in the genre, but a newfound desire to direct drove him into low-budget westerns and crime dramas, and when he belatedly return to science fiction for small roles in The Power and The Valley of Gwangi, he seemed completely drained, a shadow of his former self. His last decent performance came in Rod SERLING's The Doomsday Flight, a television film that may never be shown again due to fears then and now that it would inspire hijackers and terrorists. Fortunately, his other soaring cinematic flights are still available for viewing today.

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