Born Richard Stanford Cox in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, on April 19, 1930 to mother, Ruth McNaughton, daughter of John McNaughton who founded Los Angeles famed Union Stockyards. She appeared under the ‘nom-de-arte’ (stage name) of Ruth Powell, and had important supporting bit roles in such screen classics as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Hearts and Trumps with the great Nazimova. Sargent’s father, Colonel Elmer Cox, who served in World War I, later became a business manager to such Hollywood alumni as Douglas Fairbanks and Erich von Stroheim. Dick attended the San Rafael Military Academy in Menlo Park, California before majoring in drama at Stanford University. Sargent had appeared in films since his debut in Prisoner of War (1954). He appeared on the short-lived sitcom Broadside and the even shorter-lived Tammy Grimes Show. He appeared in The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) starring Fess Parker, Operation Petticoat (1959) starring Cary Grant, and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) starring Don Knotts. Later, he played Darrin Stephens on Bewitched for three years between 1969 and 1972, replacing ailed actor Dick York. His later movies included the 1979 film Hardcore as Jake Van Dorn’s straight-laced brother-in-law, Wes DeJong, and as Dr Jameson in the sci-fi horror film Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979). He also played Sheriff Grady Byrd on two 1979-1980 season episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard.
Sargent continued to work in film roles such as playing Harry in Live a Little, Love a Little in 1968 starring opposite Elvis Presley and Michele Carey and made numerous guest appearances on various television shows, including Ripcord, I Dream of Jeannie, Three’s Company, The Waltons, Charlie’s Angels, Knots Landing, Family Ties, Fantasy Island, Emergency!, Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law and at least on two episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard. He also portrayed himself in the 1993 remake of the Columbo series. In the mid-1980s, he landed the steady role of Richard Preston, the widowed father, in the TBS sitcom Down to Earth. He also appeared in the witch-themed movie Teen Witch in 1989. He also appeared on Diff’rent Strokes. Throughout the 1980s, he joined actress Sally Struthers as an advocate for Christian Children’s Fund, which brought relief to developing nations’ children.
On National Coming Out Day in 1991, Sargent publicly declared his homosexuality and supported gay rights issues. The high rate of suicide among young homosexuals was the main reason, jokingly referring to himself as a “retroactive role model.” Sargent recognized that his ill health from prostate cancer may have led people to assume he suffered from AIDS. He lived with his domestic partner, Albert Williams, until his death. In June 1992, Sargent was a Grand Marshal of the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade along with Elizabeth Montgomery. Sargent was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1989. Doctors were initially optimistic that it could be treated; however, the disease continued to spread and by early 1994, he had become seriously ill. Sargent died from the disease on July 8, 1994 at age 64. His remains were cremated. Former Bewitched co-star Elizabeth Montgomery commented, “He was a great friend, and I will miss his love, his sense of humor and his remarkable courage.” Montgomery herself died of colon cancer less than a year later.
- April, 19, 1930
- Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
- July, 08, 1994
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- prostate cancer