Although Victor French played the bad guy in most of his early acting credits, that all changed when he landed the role of Isaiah Edwards on "Little House on the Prairie."
Born on December 4, 1934, Victor French grew up with an appreciation for western lore and got his first taste of acting when he performed stunts alongside his father on “Gunsmoke” as a child. His acting debut was with a small role on “Lassie” before he landed roles where he usually played a gruff-looking “bad guy.”
However, that all changed when he met Michael Landon on "Bonanza," where he starred from 1962 until 1971. He brought French into "Little House on the Prairie" as his good friend and neighbor on the show in 1974.
VICTOR FRENCH'S CAREER
During an interview in 1985, French said that Landon rescued him from “20 years of playing killers, rapists, and every kind of villain and pervert known to man.” He even joked that “crowds parted” when they saw him coming due to the grim roles he portrayed.
French became Chief Roy Mobey, the star of “Carter Country,” which aired from 1977 until 1979. During the 1980s, French worked alongside Landon again when he starred as the probationary angel in “Highway to Heaven.”
Victor French and Kene Holliday on the set of "Carter Country" circa the late 1970s | Source: Wikimedia Commons
HIS LATER DAYS
After those projects, he starred in numerous films, including “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Choices,” “The House on Skull Mountain,” and more. He also tried his hand at directing at one point in his life.
In March 1989, French was diagnosed with lung cancer and died a few months later, on June 15. He was only 54 when he died, and he spent his last days in Los Angeles, California.
HIS FAMILY LIFE
Even though French was not married when he died, he had been married twice before. He first married Judith Schenz about a month after his 24th birthday on January 9, 1959.
They welcomed their firstborn Victor A. Jr. to the world the following year, while Judith gave birth to their twin daughters, Tracy and Kelly, in 1962. Judith and Victor’s marriage lasted another 13 years until their divorce on July 3, 1975.
HIS SECOND WIFE
French married his second wife, Julie Cobb, less than a year later on March 14, 1976, but with short-lived marital bliss, they divorced two years later on May 23, 1978. After that, he never remarried.
In 1998, the actor got inducted into the Great Western Performers Hall of Fame for projecting "the traditional Western ideals of honesty, integrity, and self-sufficiency in career endeavors over a lifetime in film, television, radio, or theatrical stage.”
Although he died over two decades ago, French remains one of Hollywood's most notable icons. Aside from his acting career and his family life, he also found success as the co-founder and artistic director of a non-profit theater company called "Company of Angels."