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H Entries
Earl Hamner, Jr.
Tom Hanks
Jonathan Harris
George Harrison
Ray Harryhausen
Byron Haskin
Howard Hawks
Ben Hecht
David Hedison
Robert A. Heinlein
Charlton Heston
Sir Alfred Hitchcock
Inoshiro Honda
Ron Howard
Rock Hudson
Gale Anne Hurd
Martha Hyer
 
HEDISON, DAVID
(Albert David Hedison 1927- ). American actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in as Al Hedison: The Fly (Kurt NEUMANN 1958); The Lost World (Irwin ALLEN 1960).

Acted in as David Hedison: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (tv series) (1964-1968);  The Greatest Story Ever Told (George Stevens 1965); "Somewhere in a Crowd" (1968), episode of Journey to the Unknown; Kemek (Theodore Gershuny and Don Ray Patterson 1970); Live and Let Die (Guy Hamilton 1973); The Cat Creature (tv movie) (Curtis HARRINGTON 1973); "Murder Impossible" (1974), episode of Wide World of Mystery (1974); Adventures of the Queen (tv movie) (David Lowell Rich 1975); "The Queen and the Thief" (1977), episode of Wonder Woman; Greatest Heroes of the Bible (tv miniseries) (1978); "Sighting 4011: The Doll House Incident" (1978), episode of Project UFO; "Family Reunion/Voodoo" (1978), "The Chateau/White Lightning," "Man-Beast/ Ole Island Oprey," "Show Me a Hero/Slam Dunk" (1981), "Everybody Goes to Gilley's/Face of Fire" (1982), "Don Juan's Last Affair/Final Adieu" (1984), episodes of Fantasy Island; The Power Within (tv movie) (John Llewellyn Moxey 1979);"Knight in Retreat" (1985), episode of Knight Rider; License to Kill (John Glen 1989); Fugitive Mind (video) (Fred Olen RAY 1999); Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (Brian Trenchard-Smith and Paul J. Lombardi, uncredited, 2001); Spectres (tv movie) (Phil Leirness 2004).

Appeared in documentaries: Hollywood Aliens and Monsters (tv) (Ken Burns 1997); Inside License to Kill (video) (John Cork 1999); The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood's Scariest Insect (tv) (2000).

Hosted: Phenomenal World (tv documentary series) (1990).

Special Thanks: Atomic Recall (video documentary) (Michael Lennick 2007).

 
Whenever I have observed one of his performances, David Hedison has always seemed highly irritable. One can develop two explanations for this. The first would be that like Christopher LEE, Hedison really doesn't want to be an actor, but while Lee responds to his unwanted situation by becoming bored, Hedison responds by becoming irritated. In a sense, this makes him more interesting because, in a business filled with people eager to please, it is at least a novelty to see someone eager only to finish up his business and get off the set, and an irritable actor does project a definite aura of nervous energy that can, for a while, hold one's attention. In the end, however, the actor's attitude becomes alienating: just as the thinking viewer is eventually bored by Lee's boredom, one is eventually irritated by Hedison's irritability. And this would explain why Hedison never established himself as a major performer in science fiction films.

However, it is also possible to imagine that Hedison only gets irritated when he is in science fiction films—particular the sorts of film available to a rising young actor in the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, in his first starring role, he was obliged to spend most of his time wearing a ridiculous fly mask over his head, and in Irwin ALLEN's risible The Lost World, he was asked to project genuine fear in response to a blue screen which he knew would be filled with magnified footage of tiny lizards pretending to be dinosaurs, a technique so breathtakingly unpersuasive that even a nine-year-old viewer could tell what was going on. Then, at an age when he should have been able to star in a television series, he instead found himself playing second fiddle to the calmer and more authoritative Richard BASEHART in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and after a season of moderately intelligent black-and-white episodes, he found himself increasingly afflicted by colorful, rubber-suited idiocies as the series gradually descended into unknowing farce. By this theory, Hedison was not rejected by science fiction film; instead, he fled from it, and in subsequent performances outside of the genre (which I have not seen) he achieved the serenity and contentment that he never found in science fiction.

For whatever reason, the last four decades of Hedison's career have mainly involved appearances in television dramas and soap operas, with occasional forays back into science fiction and fantasy, where there was always something new to irritate him. It goes without saying that appearances in episodes of Wonder Woman, Project U.F.O., and Knight Rider, and a star turn in a Fred Olen RAY direct-to-video bomb, were not artistically fulfilling for this theatrically trained performer, and he deserves a medal of sorts by going beyond the has-been actor's mandatory one or two trips to Fantasy Island to actually show up for six different episodes. In two James Bond films, he was again the second banana as the ineffectual American agent who steps aside to let James Bond do all the important work. If these sorts of parts represent what science fiction film was prepared to offer Hedison, it is little wonder that he came to prefer soap operas.

Still, there was no reason at all for Hedison to be irritated by what he was asked to do in the underrated Curtis HARRINGTON's television movie The Cat Creature, and I was not irritated by his performance—indeed, I was rather impressed, and recalling that film suggests to me that, if he had just been given some better opportunity, this entry might have had more positive things to report. For example, I think that Kolchak: The Night Stalker would have been a much better series if Hedison, instead of Darren MCGAVIN, had been cast at its lead. But alternate history is a pointless pursuit, and with an actor approaching the age of eighty, about the best we can hope for now would be a new version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, with Hedison now playing the wise old admiral overseeing some young hothead who is irritated to find himself under his thumb. David Hedison could relate to him very well.

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