Grafton native Clint Ritchie was born on this date in 1938. His father worked on farms near Grafton and, when Clint was seven years old, the family moved to Washington. At age 16, Ritchie moved to California carrying little more than a dream of becoming an actor.
He held a variety of jobs including truck driver, service station attendant, construction worker, bartender and health club manager. He moved to southern California, realizing he needed to be closer to the action in Hollywood to become an actor.
After two years, he finally found the courage to attend an acting class, which turned his life around. He landed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures and the lead role in a one-act presentation of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox.
In 1965, Ritchie earned his Screen Actors Guild membership portraying The Lieutenant in the pilot for the popular television series, The Wild Wild West. He also played roles in St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Bandelero, Patton, Joe Kid, and A Force of One. He once said that they were all enjoyable experiences.
After his contract with 20th Century Fox was cut, Ritchie moved to the San Fernando Valley and worked with horses. Missing acting, he had a new agent in 1975 and began acting again in television shows like Police Story, Batman, Felony Squad, Dallas and Centennial, as well as commercials.
Ritchie always loved horses and, in 1976, he established the Western States Trail Ride, popularly known as the Tevis Cup Ride. The event covered the rugged trail from Lake Tahoe to Auburn, California, in a single day. He still wears the belt buckle earned for completing the ride within the 24-hour limit.
Ritchie’s acting career took an important turn when he auditioned for a role on One Life to Live. The 11-page scene was from a day-time soap taped in New York City, and Ritchie quickly realized he was right for the outdoors newspaperman part in fictional Llanview, Pennsylvania. The character’s name was Clint Buchanan, and his first scene aired September 10, 1979.
Anticipating only 13 weeks in New York to shoot the show, he quickly realized that a complete show was shot each day for One Life to Live, and the dialogue for each was much more than in films and prime-time television. In the early 1980s, Ritchie bought his Happy Horse Ranch near Grass Valley, California. He has since added adjoining property and increased his herd of horses.
That initial 13-week contract ran for 20 years until Ritchie retired in 1998 to spend more time at his ranch and providing caretaking for his many animals. He returned briefly to One Life to Live in 1999, 2003 and 2004.
During his career, Ritchie received the several Soap Opera Digest Awards nominations, including “outstanding lead actor” in 1986 and 1989 and “favorite super-couple (with Erika Slezak, his co-star on One Life to Live) in 1989.
By Cathy A. Langemo, WritePlus Inc.