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Riptide Actors You Might Not Know Passed Away

If you grew up in the '80s, "Riptide" is a show you might remember fondly today. It was co-created by Stephen J. Cannell, the famously prolific TV writer-slash-producer who also gave us "Baretta," "The Rockford Files," "The A-Team," "The Greatest American Hero," and "21 Jump Street," among others.

As "Magnum, P.I." was all the rage, the '80s became the era of the TV private eye. The premise of "Riptide" consists of two Vietnam vets, Cody (Perry King) and Nick (Joe Penny) launching a detective agency out of their boat, conveniently named "Riptide." Not to be outdone by the helicopter-heavy intro montage of "The A-Team," the "Riptide" crew also have their own chopper — "The Screaming Mimi." In addition to Cody and Nick, the "Riptide" team includes resident nerd and tech genius Murray 'Boz' Bozinsky (Thom Bray).

"Riptide" lasted three seasons of a grand total of nearly 60 episodes and enjoyed a second life in syndication. During its run, "Riptide" had a wide variety of guest stars who are no longer with us. Here's a list of "Riptide" actors you may not know have passed away.

David Graf

David Graf is best known to comedy fans as Tackleberry, the lovable gun nut from the "Police Academy" series. Thankfully, "Police Academy" wasn't his sole acting gig. In fact, he had over 100 movie and TV credits to his name, including an episode of "Riptide."

Graf first broke into television with an episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard" in 1981. He contributed appearances on "M*A*S*H*," "The A-Team," and "Hardcastle and McCormick" before he joined the wildly successful "Police Academy" franchise.

The actor made his "Riptide" appearance in 1984, the same year "Police Academy" was released. On "Riptide," Graf played a character named Marty Valentine in an episode called "Long Distance Daddy." Graf went on to work on episodes of "Airwolf," "Night Court," "Beauty and the Beast," "Star Trek: Voyager," "The West Wing," and a plethora of others.

Graf died of a heart attack on April 7, 2001, at the age of 50.

Ken Swofford

While Ken Swofford is best known for playing Quentin Morloch on the series version of "Fame," he also guest starred in the "Home for Christmas" episode of "Riptide" as a character named Colonel Ryan.

An Illinois native, Swofford started acting in television on the '60s series "Surfside 6." He went on to appear in many other top-rated shows of the decade, including "The Wild Wild West," "I Spy," and "Adam-12."

In the early '70s, Swofford landed a role in the first big screen Michael Crichton adaptation, "The Andromeda Strain," as well as TV appearances on "The Waltons," "Kung Fu," "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries," "The Six Million Dollar Man," and others.

On to the '80s, Swofford contributed a part to the movie version of the smash stage musical "Annie," but stayed primarily a television actor for the rest of his career, racking up appearances on "Knight Rider," "Falcon Crest," "Dynasty," "Dallas," and "Matlock." Swofford ended his career with a voiceover role in the cartoon short, "Happy the Angry Polar Bear," created by his grandson Brandon, whose credits also include jobs on "Bob's Burgers," "The Owl House" and Marvel's "What If... ?"

In his personal life, Swofford was sentenced to over two years in prison for a drunk driving accident. He would later campaign against drunk driving and narrate a documentary about the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Swofford died on November 1, 2018, at the age of 85.

Richard Hatch

Sci-fi fans growing up in the '70s would know Richard Hatch as Captain Apollo from the original version of "Battlestar Galactica." He was also well known for replacing Michael Douglas on "The Streets of San Francisco." As far as "Riptide" goes, Hatch guest starred on the Season 3 premiere "Wipe Out," an episode about a decades-old mystery surrounding a surfer's suspicious death.

A native of California, Hatch moved to New York and performed in stage plays before landing a regular part on the soap "All My Children." Hatch then played Inspector Dan Robbins on "The Streets of San Francisco" before starring in the much-hyped "Battlestar Galactica" in 1978. As it happens, Hatch also appeared on 22 episodes of the critically acclaimed 2004 "Battlestar Galactica" reboot. 

Over the years, Hatch was one of the most prominent real-world figures associated with "Galactica," writing five "Galactica" novels, and putting together his own volunteer-funded and staffed fan film "Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming" in 1999, in the hopes of increasing demand for a series revival. In addition to his acting career, Hatch also worked as a motivational speaker.

Hatch died on February 7, 2017, at the age of 71.

William Smith

Standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall, William Smith usually played tough guys, but looks can be deceiving. While he was tall and intimidating, according to his official website he spoke five languages and wrote poetry.

Smith first broke into Hollywood as a child star with roles in "The Ghost of Frankenstein," "Going My Way," and "The Song of Bernadette." Once he was old enough to fight in the Korean War, he joined the NSA Security Squadron where his multi-linguistic skills came in handy. 

Smith appeared in many TV series and B-movies throughout his career including "Batman," "Combat!," "Mod Squad," "The Rockford Files," and "Hawaii Five-0," to name a few. In 1976, Smith became fairly well known for the role of  Falconetti, the villain in the highly rated mini-series "Rich Man, Poor Man." On the big screen, Smith played a heavy in "Any Which Way You Can," the sequel to the wildly popular Clint Eastwood comedy "Every Which Way But Loose." He also worked alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982's "Conan the Barbarian," and played a Russian bruiser in 1984's "Red Dawn."

On "Riptide," Smith played a character named Carter Chapman in a Season 1 episode called "The Hardcase." In this episode, the "Riptide" gang have to bring a murderer to justice and clear a woman who is suspected of the crime.

Smith died on July 5, 2021, at the age of 88.

Bernard Fox

Best known for his role of Doctor Bombay on "Bewitched," Bernard Fox was born in Wales and often played stiff and stuffy comedic roles.

Fox came from an acting family and started out performing in comedy troupes in Britain after serving in World War II. Later, he moved onto acting on TV when it was still a new medium in England. His first BBC show was called "Three Live Wires."

In the early '60s, Fox went to America for more stage work and television appearances. He finally struck gold with "Bewitched" in 1964. He was also a regular on "Hogan's Heroes" as Colonel Rodney Crittenden. Fox also appeared on such shows as "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "The Jeffersons," "Knight Rider," and "The Fall Guy," among others.

On "Riptide," Fox played a professor in the Season 3 episode "The Play's the Thing," in which a long-lost Shakespeare manuscript is linked to a mysterious killing spree.

Late in his career, Fox appeared in "Titanic," the highest grossing film of its time, and 1999's "The Mummy." He also reprised his role as Dr. Bombay on the daytime supernatural soap "Passions." His final credit was a guest appearance on "Dharma & Greg."

Fox died on December 14, 2016, of heart failure at the age of 89.

Anne Francis

Anne Francis started out as a child model who moved into TV and radio and made her Broadway debut when she was 11.

Francis became a contract player at MGM, which would eventually lead to her best-known role in the sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet." At first, Francis was frustrated with the roles she was getting at MGM, where she was little more than a pretty face, but she eventually landed much better movies including the Spencer Tracy classic "Bad Day at Black Rock," and "Blackboard Jungle."

In the '60s, Francis focused more on her television work while making occasional trips back to the big screen in "Funny Girl," the Jerry Lewis comedy "Hook, Line and Sinker," and the Don Knotts comedy "The Love God?"

On "Riptide," Francis had a recurring role as Mama Jo, who oversaw a boat inexplicably staffed entirely by young women in bikinis parked next to the Riptide boat. Francis died on January 2, 2011, at the age of 80.

David White

David White, whose white head of hair and darker mustache gave him a distinctive look, started his career as a stage actor. He eventually made it to a Broadway play called "Leaf and Bough" with Charlton Heston. The show only lasted three performances, but at least he could say he made it to Broadway. The failure of "Leaf and Bough" didn't discourage White, and he came back in 1950 to star in the play "The Birdcage" with Maureen Stapleton. Then he made his television debut in a TV movie called "Rich Boy" with Grace Kelly.

White took well to television and made many appearances on the tube including "The Hallmark Hall of Fame," "The Phil Silvers Show," as well as his regular role on "Bewitched," amounting to nearly 200 episodes of the classic supernatural sitcom. He also made his movie debut in the Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis classic "The Sweet Smell of Success."

White appears alongside his "Bewitched" co-star Bernard Fox on the "Riptide" episode "The Play's the Thing." White played a character named Professor Shellbeck opposite Fox's role as Professor Holcomb.

White died on November 27,1990, at the age of 74.

Cesar Romero

While Cesar Romero was a tall, handsome, romantic leading man for much of his career, he'll always be best known as the Joker on the '60's TV version of "Batman."

Romero started out as a ballroom dancer, then worked his way up to the Broadway stage in the late 1920s. His first film was "The Shadow Laughs." His other prominent movie roles include the Shirley Temple film, "Wee Willie Winkie" and "Captain from Castile," where he played the role of Cortez.  

Romero then jumped to television in the '50s. According to his IMDb, a profit participation deal he negotiated for his role on the TV series "Passport to Danger" made him a wealthy man. The first actor to play the Joker, Romero famously refused to shave his moustache, so clown makeup had to be applied on top of it. He appeared on "Rawhide," "77 Sunset Strip," "Zorro," and in later years he contributed a regular role on "Falcon Crest." On "Riptide," Romero played a character named Angelo Guirilini the Season 2 episode "Arrivederci, Baby," as well as Season 3's "The Pirate and the Princess."

On the big screen, Romero starred as the memorable Disney villain, A.J. Arno in multiple films, including "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes," "Now You See Him, Now You Don't," and "The Strongest Man in the World," all opposite Kurt Russell. Other big screen credits include "Around the World in 80 Days," 1960's "Ocean's Eleven," "Marriage on the Rocks," and "Donovan's Reef" with John Wayne.

Romero died on January 1, 1994, at the age of 86.

Kelly Preston

Kelly Preston was a native of Hawaii and was discovered by a photographer when she was 15. Preston was up for "The Blue Lagoon" role that ultimately went to Brooke Shields, and finally broke through with an appearance on "Hawaii Five-0" in 1980.

Preston's first notable big screen appearance was in the Stephen King adaptation "Christine," directed by John Carpenter. She then starred in the sex comedy "Mischief," the comparatively more family friendly "SpaceCamp" alongside Lea Thompson, the Elmore Leonard adaptation "52 Pick-Up," and the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito comedy hit "Twins."

Preston also had a featured role in the series "For Love and Honor," and she appeared on a Season 1 episode of "Riptide" called "The Hardcase" as a character named Sherry Meyers.

Then in 1989, Preston starred in "The Experts" with John Travolta, and they eventually became husband and wife. They also starred together in the infamous big screen adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth," and "Gotti," where Travolta played the infamous mob boss John Gotti and Preston played his wife Victoria.

Preston's career hit a peak in 1996 when she appeared in two hits in the same year — the acclaimed drama "Citizen Ruth" directed by Alexander Payne and co-starring Laura Dern, and Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe's megahit "Jerry Maguire."

Preston died of breast cancer on July 12, 2020, at the age of 57.

Paul Gleason

Best known for playing principal Richard Vernon in "The Breakfast Club," Paul Gleason studied at the famed Actors Studio in New York under the legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg, who was reportedly a mentor to Gleason, according to his IMDb bio. Gleason's career goes all the way back to the early '60s with tiny appearances in B-movies like "Panic in Year Zero!," "Ski Party," and "Winter A-Go-Go." He then moved on to series appearances in "The Green Hornet," "The Invaders," "The F.B.I.," and "Adam-12."

His big screen work included movies like "The Great Santini," "Arthur," "Trading Places," and "Tender Mercies" before finally landing his most memorable role in "The Breakfast Club."

Gleason was on two episodes of "Riptide," namely "Father's Day" where he played Commander Phillip Everitt, and "The Hardcase" where he played a different character, Detective Hallins. 

Gleason died on May 29, 2006, at the age of 67.

Alice Nunn

Alice Nunn was the kind of character actor who usually played tough women with names like "Hildegarde" and "Helga," but her most famous role by a mile was that of female trucker Large Marge in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."

A native of Florida, Nunn left the Sunshine State and made her way into Hollywood, making her TV debut on "Hazel" in 1965. Then she moved on to shows like "Camp Runamuck," "The Wild Wild West," and "Petticoat Junction." Her big screen credits include "Big Adventure," the infamous Joan Crawford biopic "Mommie Dearest," "Who's That Girl" with Madonna, and the high school comedy "Three O'Clock High."

On "Riptide," Nunn played a character named Nurse Carla Winters on an episode called "A Matter of Policy," in which Nick learns he could soon inherit a lot of money, but not without some potential strings attached.

Nunn died on July 1, 1988, at the age of 60, reportedly from cardiac arrest after she endured a number of strokes.

Frances Bay

Frances Bay starter her acting career later than most screen and film performers, but quickly carved out a niche playing eccentric old lady roles when she was in her late 50s.

Her first role was on an episode of "Kojak." Several years later she made her big-screen debut in the 1978 Chevy Chase comedy "Foul Play" when she was 59 years old.

Bay's ability to convey low-key eccentricity landed her in comedies like "Happy Gilmore" and TV shows like "Who's the Boss?" and "Seinfeld." There's evidence to suggest David Lynch saw something special in her, as he cast her in "Blue Velvet," Wild at Heart," and mostly famously in "Twin Peaks" where she played the menacing supernatural entity Mrs. Tremond.

In the episode "The Play's the Thing," which also featured Bernard Fox and David White, Bay played a librarian. She died on September 15, 2011, at the age of 92.

Stanley Kamel

Stanley Kamel, like many actors of his generation, started on the stage, then moved on to small roles on TV shows like "The Wild Wild West," "Mission: Impossible," and "Mod Squad." He also had a regular soap opera role on "Days of Our Lives," playing a character named Eric Peters from 1972 to 1976.

On "Riptide," Kamel had a guest appearance on the episode "The Orange Grove," where the "Riptide" crew is under pressure to investigate a friend of theirs from 'Nam who is suspected of being a drug dealer. Kamel played a character named Inspector Mike Sharp.

While he had featured roles in several films, Kamel was primarily a TV actor, and appeared for mostly small durations on a long list of shows ranging from "The Golden Girls" to "Beverly Hills, 90210" to "Six Feet Under."  Eventually, he became best known for playing Charles Kroger on "Monk." Kamel died of a heart attack on April 8, 2008, at the age of 65.