Victor French was one of those individuals who knew early on in life what they wanted to do. Having a father who was in the industry must have been all the pointer he needed to pursue a career in acting but his love for the craft and acting prowess are undeniable.
French was a brilliant actor and director who also taught acting privately, with his services being highly sought after. While the American has since passed away, the body of work he left behind is a constant reminder that Hollywood lost someone significant. Read on to find out more details about his career and what led to his demise.
The Life of Victor French
Victor French was born on the 4th of December 1934 in Santa Barbara, California. His father, Ted French, was a stuntman and popular western film actor in the 1940s. Victor looked up to his father in a lot of things and aspired to be an actor too.
Just like his father, he began his acting career as a stuntman, appearing in anthology shows and western films. He was a guest star in several TV Series but his first official role was in an episode of the series, Two Faces West: The Noose in 1961. French later got his chance to act alongside his father in the film The Quick and The Dead (1963) which was produced by Los Angeles Valley College’s Theatre Arts department, the same school the young boy attended. Ted and Victor also appeared side by side in an episode of Gunsmoke: Prime of Life in 1966.
Victor French went on to appear more than 20 times in the Gunsmoke series in different roles, mostly as a crook or a gunman. Throughout his career in the industry, he featured in seventeen films, forty-seven TV series and worked as a director 8 different projects, including movies and television.
Some of his notable works include his role as Mr. Edwards in the series Little House on the Prairie (1974). French had previously met actor Michael Landon when they both appeared in a few episodes of Bonanza. The pair became very close friends before going ahead to co-star in Little House on the Prairie (1974-1977, 1981-1984) and Highway to Heaven (1984-1989).
Victor late chose to leave Little House to appear on his own show, Carter Country (1977 to 1979). Other notable works of his include Charro (1969), Get Smart (1965-1966), Tarzan (1966), Daniel Boone (1967, 1969, 1970), Mannix (1970), The Hero (1966), Kung Fu (1973), Mission Impossible (1971), The Other (1972), An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), and Fame (1984) just to mention a few.
Victor French is one of the founding members of “Company of Angels” in Los Angeles alongside Leonard Nimoy. The company affords actors the opportunity to work on their craft without commercial constraints. He left the company in the mid-1970s and began to teach acting privately. He was an exceptional teacher whose service was highly sought after, thus prompting him to take on students only by referrals.
French’s brilliance as a director was seen when he won the Critics Circle Award for directing “12 Angry Men” in the LA Theatre. He also directed 18 episodes of Little House on the Praire, 12 episodes on Highway to Heaven and 5 episodes on Gunsmoke. He was posthumously inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame in 1998 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City.
Was He Married?
Victor French was married and divorced twice. He first married Judith Schenz in 1959 and divorced her in the 1970s. During their time together, they had 3 children; Victor Jr., who was born in 1960, and twins girls Tracy and Kelly who were born in 1962. His next marriage was to actress Julie Cobb in 1976 but the marriage lasted for just two years.
Victor French Net Worth
Victor French had his hand in about seventy-two projects in his career as an actor and director. Unfortunately, there is no information about how much he earned for his roles so it is difficult to ascertain how much he was worth before he died. Regardless, the California native appeared to have lived a comfortable life despite going through two divorces.
Death – What Did He Die From?
Victor French was a chain smoker and it would not be far fetched to assume that his might have contributed to him later suffering from lung cancer. The actor battled the disease for 3 months before passing away at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital, Los Angeles on the 15th of June 1989. He was aged (54) fifty-four.