A remembrance of my talented, irreverent, and irreplaceable son, Rick Dean
By Carole Dean
“I’ll see your bet and raise you $5.00,” I said with my best poker face. Looking at my two pair and the cards my challenger had showing, I just knew I could win my five-card stud hand. It was a joy to rake in those chips and in doing so I felt my first contraction. Rick Dean had decided to arrive just as I was on a winning streak. The timing was perfect.
It was late April and, as you may know, you can’t rush a Taurus. So, he didn’t make his entrance for 24 hours. My son was born the next evening on April 29th at 9:30pm in Dallas, making him a fourth generation Texan.
When Rick was 2 years old, he and I drove across the country to Los Angeles. We found a home in Hollywood. I worked all day, so when Rick turned four, I enrolled him in Hollywood Professional School, where children of actors and other Hollywood creators spent the day.
By the time he was five he was teaching the other children math. When his teacher said he was having trouble reading, I was shocked. She said come to see me and I will show you. In the meeting, she said, “watch this.” She then asked Rick to read for us and he read about 4 pages perfectly.
Then she opened the book to the middle and covered the pictures. Now read this, she requested. Well, he couldn’t! What happened? She shared with me how astonished she was when she realized he had memorized every word from the pictures. Once he knew the game was up, he got with it and became a good reader.
He excelled at Hollywood Professional school so much that when I put him in public school, they advanced him a year. I thought that was wonderful, but the principal called me in and made me watch him on the playground.
He was a year and half younger than the other children, so he was not participating in sports. She wanted me to put him back a year. I did not like that idea so we agreed that she would give him an I Q test and we would let that decide.
When I went to hear the test results, she said to me, “His IQ is higher than yours and most people.” You will have problems with him, she warned me, because he will get bored easily.
She sent us to a child psychologist whose job was to advise me how to raise a gifted child. This helped because I learned to listen closely to Rick and to talk things over with him. He had good insights. He had great people and problem-solving skills that benefitted both of us.
He learned to play tennis at 9 and he loved school. He went to Notre Dame High School in North Hollywood and was so gifted in philosophy that they gave him a one-on-one class with a philosophy teacher. After he graduated, he went to college and hated it.
While in Notre Dame he was in a play, and he played a woman. I remember fastening his brazier and thinking this would be the end of acting! Thank God, I thought to myself, he can get acting out of his mind. Then, he can get on with a law degree and use his tennis skills to get to know professional people.
This idea backfired. He loved the theatre. He asked to apply for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and of course he was accepted for two years.
He took acting lessons constantly and thrived on preforming on stage and on camera. He met and fell in love with Cinda Jackson at the Loft Theatre while studying with Peggy Feury and William Traylor. Sean Penn, Angelica Houston, and Michele Pfeiffer were fellow students.
Roger Corman found Rick to be a talented actor and included him in many pictures. They included “Nam Angels,” “Heroes Stand Alone,” “Stripteaser,” and “Naked Obsession.” He also appeared in many great television series such as “Matlock,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Dragnet,” and many more.
Later, Rick met Susanna Schulten and they were happy together for many years.
I started the Roy W. Dean Film Grant in 1992 when Rick’s grandfather, the grant’s namesake, passed away. Rick said to me that creating that grant was the “craziest thing you ever did.” After 4 years of receiving, reviewing applications, and giving grants to filmmakers, he told me, “That grant was the best thing you ever did.”
He helped me review submissions. He read every word and looked at their reels and made notes to share with them.
Together, we made it a point to call everyone who entered and tell them how talented they were. We always found what we thought was their gift and encouraged each of them to keep applying for grants and never give up. Filmmakers loved to talk to Rich. He always encouraged them and left them feeling empowered.
We all miss Rick Dean. Today is his birthday, April 29.
I like to think he is surrounded by angels and creating a script for his next life.
Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film production. She is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts. See IMDB for producing credits