Richard Paul was a versatile and talented actor who starred in the sitcom Carter Country, as well as many other TV shows and movies. He was also a comedian, a singer, and a writer. He died of cancer at the age of 58 on Christmas Day in 1998. This article explores his life, career, and death, and the legacy he left behind.
Richard Paul: A Man of Many Talents
Richard Paul was born on June 6, 1940, in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Claremont Men’s College with a degree in public affairs, and from California State University, Los Angeles, with a master’s degree in psychology. He was working on his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Arizona when he decided to pursue a career in entertainment.
Paul started his acting career in the early 1970s, appearing in various TV shows and commercials. He also performed in theater and nightclubs, showcasing his comedic and musical skills. He was a frequent panelist on the game show Match Game, where he displayed his witty and charming personality.
Paul’s breakthrough role came in 1977, when he was cast as Mayor Teddy Burnside in the ABC sitcom Carter Country, a political satire set in a small town in Georgia. He played the pompous and clueless mayor who often clashed with the local sheriff, played by Victor French. His catchphrase was “Handle it, Roy, handle it!”, which he used to delegate problems to the sheriff. The show ran for two seasons and gained a cult following.
Paul continued to work steadily in TV and film throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He had recurring roles on shows such as Murder, She Wrote, Full House, and The Golden Girls. He also appeared in movies such as Eating Raoul, Not for Publication, and The Glass Cage. He was known for his ability to play a variety of characters, from villains to buffoons, with ease and humor.
Paul also had the distinction of playing the controversial televangelist Jerry Falwell three times in his career. He first played a character based on Falwell in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati in 1981, then he portrayed Falwell himself in the TV movie Fall from Grace in 1990, and finally in the Oscar-nominated film The People vs. Larry Flynt in 1996.
Richard Paul: A Man of Compassion
Paul was not only a successful actor, but also a generous and caring person. He was an animal lover who volunteered with Actors and Others for Animals, a nonprofit organization that helps animals in need. He also served on the mental health advisory board for Los Angeles County and helped at childhood immunization clinics. He read books into tapes for the Braille Institute and donated his blood regularly.
Paul was married to Patty Oestereich, whom he met in college and wed in 1968. They had a happy and supportive marriage that lasted until his death. They had no children, but they had many friends and relatives who loved them.
Richard Paul: A Man of Courage
Paul was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, but he did not let it stop him from working and living. He continued to act in TV shows and movies, and even wrote a musical comedy called The Big Bang, which he performed with his wife at the Victory Theater in Burbank. He also underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and tried to maintain a positive outlook.
Paul died of cancer on December 25, 1998, at his home in Studio City, Los Angeles. He was 58 years old. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. He was survived by his wife, his sister, and his many fans and colleagues who mourned his loss.
Richard Paul: A Man of Legacy
Paul left behind a rich and diverse body of work that showcased his talent and versatility. He also left behind a legacy of kindness and generosity that touched many lives. He was remembered as a funny, charming, and warm-hearted man who brought joy and laughter to everyone he met.
Paul was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2001, and a scholarship fund was established in his name at his alma mater, Claremont Men’s College. His wife also wrote a memoir about their life together, called Handle It, Richard, Handle It!, which was published in 2002.
Richard Paul was a man of many talents, a man of compassion, a man of courage, and a man of legacy. He was a star who shone brightly on screen and off, and who will never be forgotten.