Robert Fuller is an American horse rancher and retired actor whose name resonates with fans of the Western television series. With a career that spanned over five decades, he has left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry and he is known for series such as “Laramie”(1959-1963), “Wagon Train”( 1957 -1962), and “Emergency” (1972-1977).
Away from his professional life, he has been married twice; he was first married to Patricia Lee Lyon who doubles as the mother of his three children, and at present, he is married to the actress, Jennifer Savidge.
Robert Fuller’s early life
Fuller was born on July 29, 1933, and he’s 90 years old at the moment. He spent his early years in Troy, New York but later moved to Key West, Florida, with his family when he was six. His parents, Betty Simpson and Robert Simpson Sr. owned a dancing school in Florida, which exposed Fuller to the world of performing arts from an early age. Growing up, he developed a passion for acting and dancing, which would later shape his career.
Despite his interest in the arts, Fuller struggled with traditional education. He was first enrolled at St Mary’s in New York City when his parents were still married. However following their divorce, they moved to Florida. There, he started schooling at the Miami Military Academy.
Nonetheless, when his mother remarried Robert Simpson, a naval officer she met there, the family moved to Chicago and later to Key West. Fuller would then continue his education at Key West High for 9th grade. Unfortunately, he dropped out of high school at 1the age of 14 as he didn’t like the school and also performed poorly.
A look at his career as an actor, singer, and horse rancher
When Fuller embarked on a journey to Hollywood, California, in 1950, he juggled several jobs. He first found employment at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where he started as a doorman and eventually became an assistant manager. It was during this time that he joined the Screen Actors Guild and decided to change his name to Robert Fuller.
Since then, he has demonstrated his versatility and has been an actor, singer, dancer, and even a horse rancher.
Robert Fuller began his career in the entertainment industry as a stuntman
As hinted already, Fuller found work as a stuntman when he arrived in Hollywood thanks to his willingness to take on daring stunts. This allowed him to make a name for himself in the industry and also prepared him for his later acting roles.
Fuller’s career in the entertainment industry began to take shape when he landed his first speaking role in the film “Friendly Persuasion” in 1956. He soon transitioned to television and made guest appearances on various shows, including Western programs like “Buckskin,” “The Big Valley,” and “The Lawless Years.” However, it was his role as Jess Harper in the Western series “Laramie” (1959-1963) that brought him recognition and established him as a prominent actor.
Following the success of “Laramie,” he joined the cast of another popular Western series, “Wagon Train,” in 1963. He portrayed the character Cooper Smith for two seasons before leaving the show. Throughout the 1960s, he also appeared in films such as “Return of the Seven” (1966) and “Incident at Phantom Hill” (1966), further solidifying his presence in the Western genre.
In the 1970s, Fuller took on one of his most memorable roles as Dr. Kelly Brackett in the medical/action drama series “Emergency!” (1972-1977). Even though he was Initially hesitant to take on the role, producer Jack Webb convinced him, and his portrayal of the dedicated doctor earned him widespread acclaim. “Emergency!” showcased Fuller’s versatility as an actor and introduced him to a new generation of television viewers.
After “Emergency!” concluded, he continued to make appearances in various television shows, including “Murder, She Wrote,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and “Diagnosis Murder.” His deep voice and rugged charm made him a sought-after actor, particularly for Western-themed productions.
His appearance on the screen started to decline in the 1990s and by 2001 he retired after playing 2 roles in the final episode of Walker Texas Ranger where he starred as Ranger Wade Harper. Despite his retirement from acting, Fuller remains involved in the Western entertainment industry and often attends Western festivals and events.
Robert’s awards over the years
Throughout his career, Fuller has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the entertainment industry.
• Best Actor Award in Japan (1961)
• Japanese Golden Order of Merit (1961)
• Best Actor in Germany (1970)
• Five Ottos (German awards equivalent to the Emmy) (1970)
• Buffalo Bill Award for Outstanding Western Entertainment (1970)
• Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1975)
• Golden Boot Award (1989)
• Honoree at the Kanab Western Legends Roundup (2002)
• Cowboy Spirit Award at the National Festival of the West (2004)
• Silver Spur Award (2007)
• Inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers (2008)
Despite the numerous awards he has received throughout his career, Robert Fuller considers his induction into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City as the biggest honor of his professional career.
Robert Fuller dabbled into music in the 50s
While Robert Fuller is primarily known for his successful career as an actor, he also showcased his talents as a singer. His passion for music and singing began during his childhood in Key West, Florida. Growing up in a family deeply involved in the performing arts, he had the opportunity to immerse himself in various artistic pursuits, including dance, acting, and music.
He did several “bandstand” gigs with Bill Aken’s Los Nomadas rock group at holiday festivities in Whiskey Flats, California. Aside from this, he also performed a vocal rendition of the song “Caribbean” in 1950. This was during this time as the grand marshal for the local Memorial Day parade.
In addition to his television appearances at the time, Fuller recorded an LP in Munich Germany. However, most of the songs including “Ein einsamer Cowboy” (“Lonesome Cowboy”), “Adios Mexicana” (“Goodbye Mexican Girl”), “Überall auf der Welt” (“All Over the World”), and “Sind wie Blumen” (“Girls Are Like Flowers”) were recorded in German.
He became a Horse Rancher after he retired from acting
Retiring from acting, Fuller turned his attention to his lifelong passion for horses and moved to Los Angeles and later purchased a ranch in North Texas in 2004. The ranch became a haven for horses, where he could care for them, nurture their well-being, and enjoy their companionship.
His love for horses dates back to his childhood, when he grew up in Key West, Florida, surrounded by the equestrian world. His family’s dance school was located near a stable, and as a young boy, Fuller would often spend his free time observing and interacting with the horses. This early exposure was what ignited his passion for the animals he would later work with.
Robert Fuller has been married twice
The retired actor, Robert Fuller has been married twice throughout his life. He was first married to Patricia Lee Lyon in 1962, and the couple remained together for over two decades before their divorce in 1984.
His first wife Patricia also known as Patti, was an actress known for her roles in television shows like “The Virginian” and “Laramie.”
Fuller tied the knot with his second wife, actress Jennifer Savidge in 2001. Details regarding how they crossed paths have not been established however, it’s possible that their careers in the entertainment industry brought them together.
The pair have been together since then and have managed to keep their marriage away from the spotlight. Fuller’s second wife Jennifer is best known for her role as Nurse Lucy Pap on NBC’s “St. Elsewhere” series.
Fuller is a father of three children
Robert and his first wife Patti had three children: son Rob Fuller, daughter Christine Fuller, and son Patrick Fuller.
Rob Fuller, the eldest son, followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a career in the entertainment industry. He worked as a stuntman and actor, appearing in films like “The Ghost and the Darkness” (1996) and television shows such as “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Rob Fuller’s involvement in the industry allowed him to share a professional connection with his father.
Christine Fuller, Robert’s daughter, has largely remained out of the public eye. Not much information is available about her personal life or career choices. She has opted for a more private existence away from the spotlight.
Patrick Fuller, the youngest son, has also kept a low profile. Like his sister, he has chosen to lead a private life, away from the media attention. However, he has been spotted with his father a couple of times.