Deadwood star Ralph Richeson, who played the bizarre cook Richardson on the hit HBO series, passed away yesterday at the age of 63 at the Palmdale Regional Medical Center. The actor's agent, Hugh Leon of Coast to Coast Talent Group, confirmed his client's passing to Deadline, revealing that he passed away on Tuesday night due to heart failure. Here's what one of the late actor's Deadwood co-stars, Jim Beaver, had to say in a moving tribute on his Facebook page.
"One of our most beloved comrades from Deadwood is gone. Ralph Richeson, an actor plucked from the crowd of background players and given the chance to create the remarkably memorable character of Richardson, the hotel flunky with the sweet spirit, died this morning in hospice. I don't think there was anyone remotely involved in the show who didn't love Ralph. He was kind, infinitely sweet, and far, far smarter than his character. I will miss you forever, my friend. I raise antlers in honor of your passage."
Deadwood marked the start of Ralph Richeson's acting career, starting out as an extra before series creator/executive producer David Milch gave him a speaking line, giving birth to the Richardson character. Richardson was a cook at the Grand Central Hotel, who had a bizarre fixation on a deer's antler. He carried the antler with him wherever he went, which he would clutch when he became frightened. He appeared in 20 of the show's 36 episodes between 2004 and 2006. He went on to land minor roles in the 2008 action-adventure Hancock, No Man's Land: The Rise of The Reeker and The Revenant, along with an episode of Parks and Recreation.
Back in August, a report surfaced that Deadwood creator David Milch has entered talks with HBO for a Deadwood TV movie that would give the beloved Western series a proper ending. Nothing has been confirmed by HBO at this time, but if this does move forward, we'll have to wait and see if the show will pay tribute to Ralph Richeson somehow. Set in the late 1800s in Deadwood, South Dakota, the show centered on a camp of outlaws that faces a number of challenges, not the least of which is its first elections. But the power struggles continue over everything in Deadwood-influence, money, and whores-as the founding camp members form strategic alliances to face down the threat of a powerful newcomer, seeking to remake Deadwood in his image.
Ralph Richeson was born on July 6, 1952 in Peru, Indiana to Elsie Crisci Olson Richeson and Ralph Woodson Richeson Jr. He also painted, selling his work through the Fine Art America website. His bio on that website revealed the actor has had "47 different jobs" in his working career, including 12 of his own businesses, while writing five books, "a thousand or so poems, 13 songs, 3 television scripts and 1 movie script which is in production now." The actor's IMDB page doesn't list any writing credits, so it isn't ultimately clear what project he wrote. The actor is survived by his brothers Terry and Charlie, sister-in-law Linda, niece Angela and nephew Mark.