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Richard Bull
Born (1924-06-26)June 26, 1924
Zion, Illinois, U.S.
Died February 3, 2014(2014-02-03) (aged 89)
Calabasas, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1956–2014
Television Little House on the Prairie
Spouse(s) Barbara Collentine (m. 1948)

Richard William Bull (June 26, 1924 – February 3, 2014) was an American film, stage and television actor. He was best known for his performances as "Doc" on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Nels Oleson on Little House on the Prairie.

Personal life

Bull was born on June 26, 1924 in Zion, Illinois.[1] After years of living in Los Angeles, he moved back to Chicago in 1994 with his wife Barbara Collentine. The couple moved to the Motion Picture & Television Fund House from Chicago in September 2012.[2][citation needed]Richard fell into acting by accident. “I never gave a serious consideration about becoming an actor. As a senior in high school, I decided to study music, but a friend suggested we attend the Goodman Theater School. In two weeks the friend dropped out, but I was hooked.”[2] There was a three-year interruption while he served as a radio operator for the Army Air Corps, but when he was discharged in 1946 he resumed his acting studies at Goodman.[3]


Richard Bull began his stage career at the famous Goodman Theatre in Chicago.[4] He said that a two-line part in The Greatest Story Ever Told "opened a lot of doors."[5] Director George Stevens was impressed with Bull's emoting, and that "led directly to the role of an FBI agent in The Satan Bug," Bull said.[5]

He made more than 100 film and TV appearances.[6]


Bull died on the morning of February 3, 2014, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Calabasas, California of pneumonia. He was 89 years old.[7]



  • Full of Life (1956) as Doctor (uncredited)
  • Fear Strikes Out (1957) as Reporter Slade (uncredited)
  • Operation Mad Ball (1957) as Military Police Sergeant (uncredited)
  • The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958) as Customs Officer (uncredited)
  • But Not for Me (1959) as Ticket Seller (uncredited)
  • Then There Were Three (1961)
  • Della (1964) as Mark Nodella
  • The Satan Bug (1965) as Eric Cavanaugh
  • In Like Flint (1967) as Newscaster (uncredited)
  • Hour of the Gun (1967) as Thomas Fitch
  • How to Steal the World (1968) as Captain Gelser (archive footage)
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) as Booth Guard
  • The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968) as Howard
  • The Stalking Moon (1968) as Doctor
  • Moonfire (1970) as Hawkins
  • Move (1970) as Keith
  • Lawman (1971) as Dusaine
  • The Andromeda Strain (1971) as an Air Force major
  • Man and Boy (1971) as Thornhill
  • Ulzana's Raid (1972) as Ginsford
  • High Plains Drifter (1973) as Asa Goodwin
  • The President's Plane is Missing (1973, TV Movie) as Flight Controller
  • Executive Action (1973) as a gunman on "Team A"
  • Breezy (1973) as Doctor
  • Newman's Law (1974) as Immigration Man
  • The Parallax View (1974) as Parallax Goon
  • Mr. Sycamore (1975) as Dr. Ferfield
  • A Different Story (1978) as Mr. Cooke
  • A Day in a Life (2000) as Will
  • The Secret (2001) as Grandpa
  • Let's Go to Prison (2006) as Board Member #2
  • Sugar (2008) as Earl Higgins
  • Witless Protection (2008) as Sheriff Smoot
  • Osso Bucco (2008) as Old Man Diner


  • Men Into Space (1959) as Radio Operator in "Asteroid"
  • Highway Patrol (1959 - 4th season episode 25) as bank robber, Bert Nelson
  • Harrigan and Son (1961) as Lawson in "They Were All in Step But Jim"
  • Gunsmoke (1962) as Nort in "Collie's Free"
  • My Three Sons (1962) as J. C. Dobbins
  • The Eleventh Hour (1964) as Phil Whitman in "Sunday Father"
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968 TV Series) as The Doctor, various episodes
  • Kentucky Jones (1965) as Harold Erkel in episodes "The Victim" and "The Return of Wong Lee"
  • Blue Light (1966) in episode "Sacrifice!"
  • Mission: Impossible (1966) as an agent for the Impossible Missions Force
  • Mannix - (1968-1974) 7 episodes as 4 different characters
  • Gomer Pyle, USMC (1966) as the psychologist in the episode "Gomer and the Little Space Men".
  • Bonanza (1969-1972) as Jess Hill/Mr. Goodman (2 episodes)
  • Columbo (1971) as 2nd Detective in episode "Lady in Waiting"
  • Nichols (1971-1972) 5 episodes as Thatcher
  • The Streets of San Francisco (1973-1974) as the coroner
  • Barnaby Jones (1973-1976) 4 episodes as J.I. Fletcher
  • Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983) as Nels Oleson
  • Wipeout (1976) as Sheriff Safian
  • Dead Man's Run as Mr. Moore
  • Blind Terror (1973) as Mr. Strather
  • Perchance to Kill (1973) as J.I. Fletcher
  • Hill Street Blues (1985) as Capt. Furillo's father
  • Highway to Heaven (1985) as the doctor (2 episodes)
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show as Stanley (1 episode)
  • Highway to Heaven (1988) as Judge Wagner (1 episode)
  • Designing Women (1988) as Everett
  • ER (1999) as nice man on the train (1 episode)
  • Normal (2003, TV Movie) as Roy, Sr.
  • Boss (2011) as Elderly Farmer (final appearance)


  1. Langer, Emily (4 February 2014). "Richard Bull, television character actor, dies at 89". The Washington Post. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Richard Bull of 'Little House' dies.". Herald & Review. 5 February 2014. 
  3. "About Richard Bull". 
  4. "Collentines at Commencement". The Capital Times. 13 June 1948. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Anderson, Nancy (July 9, 1976). "Accents spoil show says Richard Bull". p. 19.  open access publication - free to read
  6. "Necrology for 2014". Spring 2015. pp. 16–23. 
  7. Obituary

External links

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