Actor-writer Richard Stapley, co-star of such films as “The Three Musketeers” with Lana Turner and Gene Kelly, and “Little Women” with Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh, died on Fridayof kidney failure at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 86.
Born in 1923 in Westcliff, Essex, England, Stapley had his first novel published at 17, served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Following several theatrical appearances in London, he was signed by MGM, making his film debut in 1948’s “The Three Musketeers” and scoring his biggest impact as Janet Leigh’s love interest in the 1949 remake of “Little Women.” His dashing good looks led to swashbuckler roles in “The Strange Door” with Boris Karloff, “King of the Khyber Rifles” with Tyrone Power, “Charge of the Lancers” with Paulette Goddard and “The Iron Glove” with Robert Stack.
In 1960 Stapley went to Europe and under the name Richard Wyler was signed to star in the crime series “Man From Interpol,” which was syndicated throughout the world. He was featured in a series of European-produced adventure films and westerns including “The Barbarians” with Jack Palance, “The Girl From Rio” with George Sanders and Shirley Eaton, and title roles in “The Rattler Kid,” “The Bounty Killer” and “Dick Smart.”
Resuming his career as Richard Stapley, he co-starred with Bette Davis and Michael Redgrave in 1970’s “Connecting Rooms” and had a small role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 “Frenzy.”
Stapley became a naturalized U.S. citizen and spent his last years writing. His novel “Naked Legacy” was published in 2004 and he had completed both a novel and adapted screenplay entitled “Tomorrow Will Be Cancelled,” and was completing an autobiography, “To Slip and Fall in L.A.”