'One Million B.C.' Actor John Richardson Dead of COVID-19 at 86
John Richardson, the handsome British actor who, alongside bombshell Raquel Welch, went caveman in the camp classic "One Million Years B.C.," died January 5 at 86, reportedly of COVID-19.
Cinema Retro broke the news to fans, with writer Mark Mawston eulogizing him. "John may have battled dinosaurs and vampires on-screen," he wrote, "but the current real-life horror of COVID took from us one of the true gentlemen of cinema, whose love for life was obvious through the twinkle in his famously blue eyes."
Born January 19, 1934, in Worthing, Sussex, England, Richardson's good looks made acting a viable career path following a stint in the Merchant Navy.
After several inconsequential early roles in the late '50s, he made a splash opposite Barbara Steele in the Italian horror classic "Black Sunday" (1960). He enjoyed working in Italy, landing solid roles in genre flicks, while occasionally appearing in smaller roles back in the UK, including in "Tender Is the Night" (1962) and "Lord Jim" (1965).
His big break was in "She" (1965) opposite Ursula Andress for Hammer Films, about a small group of explorers who discover a lost kingdom ruled by an immortal queen. He returned for the 1968 sequel, "The Vengeance of She."
In the meantime, he tackled the most important role of his career, as a caveman in "One Million Years B.C." (1966), a Hammer movie with stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen. The preposterous film — which depicted humans existing in the era of the dinosaurs, and introduced sex symbol Welch as a cavegirl with false eyelashes and a string of really good hair days — was a T. rex-sized hit, but did little to further Richardson's career. Still, Welch allowed that Richardson was "more beautiful than I am."
Richardson went back to Italy, where he starred in spaghetti westerns.
Back in Hollywood, after losing the role of James Bond in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) to total novice George Lazenby, he starred with Barbra Streisand in "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (1970).
He rounded out his acting career in such films as "Torso" (1973), "Eyeball" (1975), and "War of the Planets" (1977), retiring for good after the TV movie "Milner" in 1994.
After acting, Richardson, who'd married and divorced actress Martine Beswick, devoted himself to photography, and to his life with his partner Helen, who survives him.