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Randolph Mantooth Biography

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Birth Name: Randolph Mantooth

Born Sept. 19, 1945 in Sacramento, CA, Randolph Donald Mantooth was the oldest of four children by construction worker Donald Mantooth and his wife, Sadie. The elder Mantooth's job required the family to travel frequently in order to find work, and by the time his son reached high school age, they had lived in 24 different states. The family eventually settled in Santa Barbara, CA, where Mantooth cultivated his childhood interest in acting at San Marcos High School by becoming a regular face in its drama program. After graduation in 1963, Mantooth decided to pursue acting as a career, and studied for two years at Santa Barbara City College before receiving a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. After sharing with fellow future star Brad Davis the Charles Jelinger Award, the Academy's top acting honor, Mantooth was approached by a talent scout from Universal Studios, who signed him to a contract. He relocated to California and began a steady string of bit and guest appearances on the studio's numerous television series, beginning in 1968 with extra work on "Ironside" (NBC, 1967-1975).

Producer Robert A. Cinader caught one of Mantooth's performances on an episode of "The Bold Ones" (NBC, 1969-1973) and decided that he would be perfect for a new drama he was developing for producer Jack Webb and Universal. The series was called "Emergency!" and was based on the Los Angeles County's paramedic program, which trained firefighters to give medical aid to injured parties at the site of an accident, and then transmit and receive vital information to a nearby hospital before transporting the victims. Debuting as a mid-season replacement in 1972, "Emergency!" faced stiff competition from CBS' critically acclaimed "All in the Family" (1971-79), but quickly developed a steady following among younger viewers, thanks in part to the combination of action and medical drama, but also due to its youthful leads.

As paramedic Johnny Gage, Mantooth was paired with actor Kevin Tighe, who played his friend and partner, Roy DeSoto. Gage was impulsive and occasionally accident-prone, which provided the show with moments of levity, but was entirely competent in the numerous life-and-death situations the duo faced in every episode. Gage was also the series' resident ladies' man, pursuing the nurses at Rampart General Hospital, which earned him pin-up worthy status among the show's female fans. The onscreen camaraderie between Mantooth and Tighe, as well as with actor-singers Bobby Troup and Julie London, who played Dr. Joe Early and Nurse Dixie McCall respectively, carried over to real life as well. All four remained close friends long after the series came to a close, and Tighe served as best man at Mantooth's second wedding in 2002.

At the height of the show's popularity, Mantooth appeared as Gage in several cross-over episodes with other shows, including the Webb-produced "Adam-12" (NBC, 1968-1975), and provided the voice for an animated Johnny Gage on "Emergency+4" (NBC, 1973-76), a Saturday morning cartoon which teamed the paramedics with a quartet of young volunteers. He was also featured in comic book adaptations of the series, as well as tie-in products like board games. Despite the show's winning ratings, it was cancelled in 1977. However, the network decided to extend its life for an additional two years with a series of six made-for-TV movies, all of which aired on NBC, which eventually brought the show to a close with the promotion of Gage and DeSoto to captains of their own fire houses. Oddly, "Emergency" did not score in syndication, where it was retitled "Emergency One!"

Mantooth tried his hand at other series immediately after his hit show's demise, but neither found an audience. "Operation Petticoat" (ABC, 1977-79) was a glum sitcom adaptation of the 1959 Cary Grant Navy comedy, with Mantooth as a hapless seaman, while "Detective School" (ABC, 1979) cast him as one of several hopeful private investigators under the tutelage of James Gregory. In 1979, he took the lead in "The Seekers" (1979), the third and final TV adaptation of John Jakes' 19th century adventure novels. The exposure undoubtedly took the sting out of his major losses the year before; in addition to the cancellation of "Operation Petticoat," his 13-acre ranch in Agoura, CA was destroyed in a wildfire.

In 1987, Mantooth signed on with the New York-lensed daytime soap "Loving" (ABC, 1983-1995) to play heel-with-a-heart Alex Masters, who posed as Clay Aden, scion to a business empire, before the real Clay returned from a POW camp to claim his birthright. As was often the case on soaps, Masters' transgressions were forgiven, and he became a decent sort, involved in normal daytime plotlines, sans the identity issues. Mantooth received four Soap Opera Digest nominations for his work on the series; he briefly departed the show in 1990 to spend two years on "General Hospital" (NBC, 1963- ) before returning in 1993 for the final two years of "Loving." In 1995, he signed on to play Alex Masters in the spin-off, "The City" (ABC, 1995-97). During this period, he also managed to log numerous hours in various off-Broadway plays. After "The City" came to an end, Mantooth returned to Los Angeles, where he worked steadily in episodic television. In 2004, he returned to daytime as a replacement for Benjamin Hendrickson in the recurring role of Sheriff Hal Munson on "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956-2010). He then briefly segued to "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012) as the father of baseball star and secret racist Tate Harmon (Chris Beetem). Mantooth's character was killed off two months after his debut by his TV son's gang of white supremacists.