The Natural – Remembering Richard Jordan (1937 – 1993)

Posted in Remember by - December 17, 2013
The Natural – Remembering Richard Jordan (1937 – 1993)

Noted actor Richard Jordan worked tirelessly on stage, screen and television, and although he died too young he left behind many memorable roles, playing both good and bad characters.

Born in New York on July 17th 1937, the privately educated Jordan graduated from Harvard in 1958, and within 3 years was acting on Broadway. Richard performed in various Shakespeare plays and before long he was directing his own stage productions, both on and off Broadway.

Jordan’s movie career began when he was 34, initially in gritty westerns, with his first two starring opposite Burt Lancaster (‘Lawman’ and ‘Valdez is Coming’ – both 1971). The following year Jordan appeared in the Charles Bronson Indian tale ‘Chato’s Land’, from ‘Lawman’ director Michael Winner, whom Richard despised.

Jordan’s breakthrough came in 1973 when he co-starred in Peter Yates’ excellent ultra-realistic drama ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’. The movie starred Robert Mitchum (in a career-best performance), as a small time criminal turned informer, with Richard giving a natural turn as corrupt detective, Dave Foley. The following year Richard teamed again with Mitchum for Sydney Pollack’s Japan-set gangster thriller ‘The Yakuza’.

After featuring in the 1976 Sci-Fi fave ‘Logan’s Run’, Richard collected a Golden Globe for his excellent portrayal of Irish immigrant Joseph Armagh, in the much lauded NBC mini-series ‘Captains and the Kings’.

1978 began with a co-starring role in Woody Allen’s drama debut ‘Interiors’. That same year saw Richard in a striking performance as Jean Valjean in a terrific TV Version of the oft-filmed classic ‘Les Misérables’, alongside Anthony Perkins as the evil guard, Javert. Staying in the UK Richard followed up ‘Les Misérables’ with the entertaining caper ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square’, with David Niven and Elke Sommer.

The Eighties proved disappointing for the talented Jordan. The decade started out badly with the big budget flop ‘Raise the Titanic’ (’80), which sank at the box office. He was very good though opposite Anthony Hopkins in the 1981 television film ‘The Bunker’, playing Third Reich minister Albert Speer to Hopkins’s Adolph Hitler. Parts in David Lynch’s 1984 big budget ‘Dune’, and ‘The Secret of My Success’ (’87), as Michael J Fox’s corporate uncle, did little for him professionally, and he continued to act and direct on stage.

After a prominent role in the Sean Connery cold war thriller ‘The Hunt for Red October’ in 1990, Jordan gave a terrific performance in what would be his final movie, 1993’s ‘Gettysburg’. His portrayal of Confederate officer Lewis Armistead was certainly award-worthy. His speech at the end of the film is portrayed with such depth and honesty, creating enough feeling of a character being able to lead the men into an eventual final charge. A truly fitting end to a fine career.

Married twice (to actresses Kathleen Widdoes and later Blair Brown), Richard died far too young, from a brain tumour at just 56, on August 30th 1993. A staunch advocate of the theatre, he remained dedicated to his craft to the very end, giving impressive turns in many productions. Much missed, Richard Jordan left behind a daughter by his first wife, and a son by his long-term companion, actress Marcia Cross.

Favourite Movie: The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Favourite Performance: Les Miserables

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1 Comment on "The Natural – Remembering Richard Jordan (1937 – 1993)"

  • Simon

    He was an excellent actor, always worth watching, even in rubbish films.

    Thanks for the tribute.

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