Victor French's Final Years and Tragic Death of the 'Little House on the Prairie' Star at 54
Victor French, the iconic actor who channeled his love of boxing and acting into his acting roles, was best known for his role as Michael Landon's neighbor Isaiah Edwards on "Little House on the Prairie."
Victor was born to a western actor and stuntman, Ted French, who instilled the love of acting and stunting into him. It was his father who helped him break into the business.
HOW HIS CAREER KICKSTARTED
The father and son duo appeared in "Gunsmoke" and in "The Quick and the Dead" produced by the Valley College Theater Arts department. It was the college that Victor had attended.
After his first job as an actor in "Gunsmoke," Victor appeared in "Get Smart" as Agent 44. The spy spoof was followed by "Bonanza." That was where he met actor Michael Landon, the man who would go on to be his life long friend.
VICTOR AND MICHAEL LANDON'S EPIC FRIENDSHIP
The industry saw Victor as a man whose gruff exterior and huge size made him an ideal catch for roles portraying thugs and heavies. That changed after Michael came along.
It was Michael who broke the cycle of Victor playing rapists, villans, perverts, and killers on-screen. Michael brought him into "Little House on the Prarie" where his role as Isaiah Edwards broke type-casting limitations.
I just legit got an acceptance for a poem that mentions both Michael Landon & Victor French by name, & includes the opener from Highway to Heaven. I feel like I should win some kind of latchkey-70's-kid poet-award for this? #popculturepoems #poetry pic.twitter.com/Saq2AIma2W— erika meitner (@rikam99) May 10, 2019
THE ICONIC DUO
According to Michael, there was something special about Victor that struck him. He also said that he spent more time with him than a married couple.
Michael would go on to bring Victor into "Highway to Heaven" as his co-star as well. While Michael played a probationary angel in the series, Victor landed the role of ex-cop Mark Gordon.
NOT ONLY AN ACTOR
After "The Little House on the Prarie" ended in 1983, Victor left the series to star in the racial comedy "Cater Country" as Chief Roy Mobey. In 1966, the actor briefly appeared in the comedy series "The Hero."
Besides being an actor, Victor was also a gifted director. He directed several episodes of "The Little House on the Prarie," "Highway to Heaven," and "12 Angry Men" for which he won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award.
A TRAGIC LOSS
A chain smoker all his life, Victor battled with lung cancer during the final days of his life. He tragically passed away after a three-month-long battle with the deadly disease. He was 54.
According to his manager, Bob Philpott, the actor didn't want service to be held after his death. Instead, he gave him clear instructions to throw a party for his friends.