Dean Fredericks was a television star during the late '50s and early '60s, principally on the series Steve Canyon and in one very interesting low-budget feature film. Born Frederic J. Foote in Los Angeles, CA, in 1924, he served in the military during World War II and received a Purple Heart. He turned to acting in the early '50s, initially under the name Fred Foote, and had uncredited appearances as a detective in Gordon Douglas' classic sci-fi thriller Them! (1954), Jesse Hibbs' Western Rails Into Laramie (1954), as well as The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin series. By 1955, he'd changed his stage name to Norman Fredric (sometimes spelled Frederic) and was co-starring in the series Jungle Jim as the title character's faithful servant Kaseem, as well as appearing on such series as Cheyenne, Circus Boy, Gunsmoke, Maverick, and the 1957 thriller The Disembodied.
It was during an appearance on the series The Court of Last Resort in 1957 that the actor was spotted by Milton Caniff, the creator of such comic strips as Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. A year later, while preparing a television series based on Steve Canyon, Caniff remembered Norman Fredric and personally chose him for the title role of the two-fisted air-force lieutenant Colonel Stevenson B. Canyon. With a name change to the more dynamic sounding Dean Fredericks, he fit the role perfectly -- indeed, he looked exactly like the character as drawn by Caniff. That was how Dean Fredericks became a star known to millions of baby boomers. Though the series was only in production from 1958-1959, it was rerun heavily in syndication, and there were Steve Canyon toys and other products associated with the program, which helped it linger in pop culture. Fredericks played mostly in Westerns following the run of his series, appearing in The Virginian, The Rifleman, and also in the Disney production The Adventures of Gallegher. In movies, he worked in Wild Harvest, The Final Hour, and Savage Sam (playing a Comanche warrior in the latter).
The most interesting project of Fredericks' entire career, however, was The Phantom Planet (1961), a strange sci-fi adventure involving an astronaut who finds himself reduced to a fraction of his full size and is marooned on a tiny planetoid that houses an entire super-civilization. This film has endured in popularity for decades as a "guilty pleasure," despite some silliness in the makeup and casting. Fredericks' fame didn't outlast the early '60s, and neither did the kind of low-budget Western, action-adventure, and science fiction vehicles to which he was best suited. He died of cancer in 1999 at the age of 75.