Thursday, April 19, 2018

Born Today In 1930, the Second Darrin, Dick Sargent

Richard Cox was born today, April 19, in 1930. Known professionally as Dick Sargent, he was an actor who was best known as the second actor to portray Darrin Stephens on the popular situation comedy Bewitched. He took the name Dick Sargent from a Saturday Evening Post illustrator/artist of the same name.

Born in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Sargent attended the San Rafael Military Academy in Menlo Park, California, before majoring in drama at Stanford University.

He had appeared in feature films following his debut in Prisoner of War (1954). He appeared in The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) starring Fess Parker. In the 1957 movie Bernardine, the little-known Sargent had his most important role to date, as lovesick teenager Sanford "Fofo" Wilson. The character was the main focus of the story, but Sargent's work was overshadowed by the presence of several famous names in the cast, including Hollywood legend Janet Gaynor, sitcom star Ronnie Burns and Pat Boone, who had just become a singing sensation and was making his film debut. (Two of the songs that Boone performed in "Bernardine" became No. 1 recordings.) Sargent also appeared with Boone in the 1958 film, Mardi Gras.

Sargent appeared in the 1959 feature film Operation Petticoat starring Cary Grant and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts in 1966. He was a regular on three short-lived television comedies, One Happy Family in 1961, Broadside in 1964, and The Tammy Grimes Show, a four episode flop in 1966. 

For three seasons, from 1969 to 1972, he played Darrin Stephens on Bewitched replacing ailing actor Dick York. His later movies included the crime drama Hardcore (1979) as Jake Van Dorn's straight-laced brother-in-law, Wes DeJong, and as Dr. Jameson in the sci-fi horror film Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979). He also played Sheriff Grady Byrd on two 1979–1980 season episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard.

Sargent continued to work in film roles such as playing Harry in Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) starring opposite Elvis Presley and made numerous guest appearances on various television series such as The Rat Patrol, I Dream of Jeannie, Hazel, Three's Company, The Waltons, Charlie's Angels, Knots Landing, Family Ties, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Adam-12, Emergency!, Baretta, The Six Million Dollar Man, Marcus Welby, M.D., Trapper John, M.D., Alice, Benson, Vega$, Diff'rent StrokesMurder, She Wrote and L.A. Law. In 1990, he also portrayed himself on an episode of Columbo. In the mid-1980s, he landed the steady role of Richard Preston, the widowed father, in the TBS sitcom Down to Earth. He also appeared in the fantasy comedy Teen Witch (1989).

Throughout the 1980s, he joined actress Sally Struthers as an advocate for Christian Children's Fund, which brought relief to developing nations' children.

On National Coming Out Day in 1991, Sargent publicly declared his homosexuality and supported gay rights issues. The high rate of suicide among young gay people was the main reason; he jokingly referring to himself as a "retroactive role model." Sargent recognized that his ill health from prostate cancer may have led people to assume he suffered from AIDS. He lived with his domestic partner, Albert Williams (at right with Sargent), until his death.

In June 1992, Sargent was a Grand Marshal of the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade along with Elizabeth Montgomery.

Sargent was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1989. Doctors were initially optimistic that it could be treated. However, the disease continued to spread and, by early 1994, he had become seriously ill. Sargent died from the disease on July 8, 1994, at age 64.

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