Victor French (birth name – Victor Edwin French), nicknamed – Uncle Eddie, was an American television actor who is best known for playing Mark Gordon in ”Highway to Heaven” and Isaiah Edwards in ”Little House on the Prairie.”
He was born on December 4, 1934, in Santa Barbara, California, USA, to an Armenian mother and an American father, Ted French. His father was a Hollywood actor and stuntman.
His grandfather was also an actor.
According to Legacy, French said about his parents:
“I had parents with terrific values too. The thing they taught us was respect for other people and their property.”
He began his TV career as a stuntman, mostly in westerns.
His debut as an actor was a small role in Lassie (uncredited). He had another uncredited role as an office clerk in the film The Magnificent Seven, a 1960 Western film that was directed by John Sturges.
Some of the stars in the film include – Horst Buchholz, James Coburn, Brad Dexter, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, and Yul Brynner.
His real role was on the syndicated series Two Faces West in the 1961 episode “The Noose.” Two Faces West was a 39-episode half-hour TV western series set in southwestern Colorado.
After, he was cast on the ABC/Warner Brothers western series The Dakotas as Larrimore in the episode “Fargo.” The short-lived program is considered a spin-off of Clint Walker’s Cheyenne. Some of the stars are – Michael Greene, Chad Everett, Jack Elam, and Larry Ward.
From 1965 to 1966, French played the recurring character “Agent 44” as an undercover spy in the NBC series Get Smart. The TV series was popular in the US in the late 1960s and parodies the secret agent genre.
In 1969, he starred in the western, ”Charro!” a western film shot on location at Apacheland Movie Ranch and starring Elvis Presley.
Gunsmoke is a TV Western drama series that ran from September 10, 1955, to March 31, 1975, on CBS. Some of the stars appearing in Gunsmoke are – Burt Reynolds, Ken Curtis, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Dennis Weaver, and James Arness.
From 1966-1975, French appeared on 18 episodes of Gunsmoke. Additionally, he directed 5 episodes of the Western drama.
In 1972, Victor appeared in a guest-actor role on The Waltons, an American TV series created by Earl Hamner Jr., based on the book – ”Spencer’s Mountain.”
In 1973, he performed as a corrupt, bigoted sheriff who made a guest appearance on Kung Fu, an American action-adventure martial arts western drama TV series that follows the adventures of a Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine.
Little House on the Prairie
In 1974, Victor began appearing as Isaiah Edwards on ”Little House on the Prairie,” a western drama TV series, starring Melissa Sue Anderson, Karen Grassle, Melissa Gilbert, and Michael Landon.
The series explored many different themes including often portrayed ones of racism, blindness, poverty, faith, alcoholism, and adoption.
French was inducted (as a cast member of Little House) into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy.
In ”Little House on the Prairie,” Victor stared alongside his friend Michael Landon, an American producer, director, writer, and actor.
During an interview, French said about Landon:
″The network wanted a name actor, but Michael stood by his guns. That role changed my career.″
Victor later added:
″Michael is really my ’angel.’″
In 1977, French left ”Little House on the Prairie” to star in sitcom Carter Country as a small-town Georgia police chief.
In 1976, he appeared in an episode of Sara, a 1976 Western TV series that aired from February 13 to May 7, 1976, on CBS. ”Sara” centered around a schoolteacher in Colorado in the 1870s.
A few years after sitcom ″Carter Country″ was canceled, Victor rejoined ”Little House on the Prairie.” He remained with the television series until 1983.
In 1982, he performed as the stepfather of protagonist Paula Pokrifkiin the film ”An Officer and a Gentleman.” The film is a romantic drama film starring Louis Gossett Jr., Debra Winger, and Richard Gere.
In 1998, French was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy.
On January 9, 1959, French married Judith Schenz. The couple divorced on July 3, 1975.
On March 14, 1976, he married Julie Cobb, an American actress. Her film career has included roles in:
- Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde;
- Defending Your Life;
- The Runnin’ Kind;
- Just You and Me, Kid;
- The Second Coming of Suzanne.
Her parents were actress Helen Beverley and actor Lee J. Cobb.
Julie and Victor divorced on May 23, 1978.
French has three children with his first wife:
- twin daughters, Tracy and Kelly;
- Victor A. Jr.
Death & Cause Of Death
Victor was a chain smoker (a person who smokes cigarettes one after another).
French died on June 15, 1989, at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital in LA, California.
The actor had been ill with lung cancer for about 3 months before his death.
At his request, there were no services.
Victor French was 6′ 1″ (1.85 m) tall.
He had an impressive collection of western memorabilia, including Roy Rogers’ boots and Buck Jones’ hat.
Victor later appeared with his father in a war film called The Quick and The Dead in 1963 as well as in one episode of Gunsmoke entitled “Prime Of Life” in 1966.
Victor French – Net Worth
Some of his TV shows are – The Virginian, Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, Rawhide, Wild West, The Wild, Hazel, Hogan’s Heroes, Little House on the Prairie, Hawaiian Eye, No Time for Sergeants, and 77 Sunset Strip.
Victor also performed in the following films – The Nickel Ride, The Quick and the Dead, The House on Skull Mountain, The Other, Rio Lobo, Death of a Gunfighter, and Spencer’s Mountain. Therefore, at the time of his death, Victor French had an estimated net worth of $3.7 million.