Rick Jason (May 21, 1923 – October 16, 2000), born Richard Jacobson, was an American actor, born in New York City, and most remembered for his role as 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley in the ABC television drama Combat! (1962–1967). Childhood
An only child of Jewish parents, Jason was expelled from several prep schools before graduating from Rhodes Preparatory School in Manhattan.
Jason served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II from 1943 to 1945.
Jason also visited American troops serving in Vietnam on several USO tours in the late 60s and early 70s.
After the War, he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts on the GI Bill, and held a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. While in attendance at a New York play, he was spotted by Hume Cronyn, who then cast him in Now I Lay me Down to Sleep. The role earned Jason a Theater World Award and a Hollywood contract with Columbia Pictures.
Later, M-G-M was searching for an actor to replace Fernando Lamas in the movie Sombrero and gave the role to Jason, who was earlier released from Columbia Pictures. It was a success and it led to The Saracen Blade and This Is My Love.
Fox signed him for the male lead role in The Lieutenant Wore Skirts and later signed for a multi-picture contract. His first project was an adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus, which earned him critical acclaim. A string of good performances, both in films and on television, then followed. In 1958, Jason played the lead in The Fountain of Youth, an innovative half-hour unsold pilot written and directed by Orson Welles which won the Peabody Award (decades later, Jason would participate in a panel discussion of what it was like to work with Welles at The Paley Center for Media).
Soon after, Jason received offers for television series. He guest starred on ABC's anthology series, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse. In 1954, he played Joaquin Murietta, the notorious Mexcian bandit of the California Gold Rush, in an episode of Jim Davis's syndicated western series Stories of the Century, the story of a railroad detective investigating crime in the American West.
In 1960, Jason starred as insurance investigator Robin Scott in The Case of the Dangerous Robin. Jason also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood, in the Rawhide episode "Incident in the Valley of Shadow," and co-starred in 1969 with George Maharis, Janet Leigh and Jack Albertson in the ABC movie The Monk.
In 1962, he starred as Platoon Leader 2nd Lt. Gil Hanley on the series Combat!, probably his most memorable role. The show also starred Vic Morrow as Sgt. Chip Saunders and Conlan Carter as Doc. It lasted for five seasons and 152 episodes.
After Combat!, Rick returned to theater. He also made films in Japan and Israel. In 1970 he took the lead in the pilot for Prudence and the Chief. His TV career went well in the '70s and '80s, when he appeared in shows like Matt Houston, Police Woman, Murder, She Wrote, Moonlighting, Wonder Woman, Fantasy Island, Airwolf and Dallas. In 1973, he was a frequent character on The Young and the Restless.
Jason kept busy by doing voice-overs for commercials and wrote an autobiography called Scrapbooks of My Mind. In 2000, Jason attended a Combat! reunion in Las Vegas with fellow cast members.
Jason died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound one week after the Combat! reunion on October 16, 2000 in Moorpark, California. He is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.