R.I.P. Alex Cord, who played the CIA boss on Eighties action favorite 'Airwolf'

The rugged TV actor met his wife on Night Gallery and was lifelong friends with Robert Fuller. He was 88.

Eighties action entertainment was all about cool vehicles. Television had awesome rides for land, sea, and air. Michael Knight drove a talking Firebird. The Riptide Detective Agency of Riptide was named after the guys' boat on Pier 56. They had a helicopter, too. But there was no cooler helicopter than Airwolf.

Taking off in 1984, Airwolf starred Jan-Michael Vincent as tough-guy pilot Stringfellow "String" Hawke. He flew the experimental aircraft for "The Firm," a division of the CIA headed up by director Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III, codename "Archangel." All of that sounds cool. Playing Briggs was Alex Cord, a veteran actor with more than two decades of experience on television.

Cord was stricken with polio as a child when his family moved to Wyoming. It was there he learned to ride horses and recover from his illness. Unsurprisingly, considering his background, he made his screen debut in Laramie, an episode titled "The Mountain Men." It was on that Western he met Robert Fuller, star of the series, who could become his lifelong friend. Four decades later, Cord told Fuller he should move to Texas, near his place, and the two both resided in the Lone Star State in recent years.

Other cowboy shows cast Cord, too. Branded brought him alongside Chuck Connors, while his spot on Gunsmoke, in "The Sodbusters," featured him with an unknown up-and-comer named Harrison Ford.

Route 66 particularly appreciated his services, casting Cord four times in four different roles. He was also a frequent guest star on Fantasy Island and Police Story

One major breakout role was in his grasp — if the show had been successful. Gene Roddenberry cast Cord as the star in Genesis II, one of his follow-ups to Star Trek. The sci-fi pilot was not picked up for series, however, and aired as a TV movie in 1972.

His most important guest role, at least to his personal life, came on Night Gallery, the eerie Rod Serling horror series. The tale "Keep in Touch - We'll Think of Something" centered around a man (Cord) who fills out a false police report to track down a beautiful woman, Joanna Pettet.

Cord and Pettet hit it off and the two married. 

The erstwhile Airwolf actor continued to work into the 1990s, with his last notable role coming on Walker, Texas Ranger. After that, it was just a life in Texas. Cord would pass away on August 9 in his home in Valley View, Texas, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 88.

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L 33 months ago
Inn of the Damned (available on Youtube last I knew). Stagecoach (I'd pay serious money for a DVD). A Minute to Pray a Second to Die.
L 33 months ago
I'll watch almost anything with Ernest Borgnine in it. (To be honest, Jan Michael Vincent was hot!).

When it came on, just starting my career. I imagined myself working for The Firm for awhile.

I always wanted to "capture" pictures from the TV screen like what Hawke had. With Youtube, I sort of can.

RobertM 34 months ago
He was in an episode of "The Love Boat", where his wife tells him that Doc took liberties with her during a physical examination.
Kenner 34 months ago
R.I.P. Alex Cord. Great actor. Hey, METV, try and bring in air wolf? I think 1 Perry Mason a day is enough.
djw1120 Kenner 34 months ago
I think you should learn to spell.
It's MeTV; and "Airwolf"
Also, I agree with you in bringing back "Airwolf".
It could replace the first "Pery Mason" in the morning.
Kenner djw1120 34 months ago
Sorry, teach, I didn’t know there was a spelling test. Geez, get a life already.
L djw1120 33 months ago
I have the DVDs. Season 4 with Barry Van Dyke (sorry, Dick) isn't worth it.
ruswilinc 34 months ago
They didn't mention that his birth name was Alex Viespi.
L ruswilinc 33 months ago
I love Italians.
jvf 34 months ago
What a handsome and talented man. In my opinion, very underrated.
7tL2u8S 34 months ago
RiP, Alex Cord . I believe he was in 3 Night Gallery episodes . I seem to remember his co-star in one of these was Leslie Nielsen.
L 7tL2u8S 33 months ago
In the 70s he was all over the place.
JoeSHill 34 months ago
A great loss! I vividly remember the week in January 1984 when both "AIRWOLF" and "BLUE THUNDER" debuted, and after watching Roy Scheider's "BLUE THUNDER" movie from Columbia Pictures in 1983, I was convinced that this high tech helicopter has absolutely no rivals and that an ABC series based on this movie would be a continuation. that was until I watched the debut of "AIRWOLF" when my first impressions changed! ABC's "BLUE THUNDER" was obviously no match for its CBS rival, and after ten episodes, it flew off into the sunset! But watching Alex Cord return to series TV seven years after "WEB", a very short-lived NBC series from Fall 1978 from 20th Century Fox Television, something of a sendoff of "NETWORK", where Cord played "Jack Kiley", the head of a fictitious TV network called TAB, in only five episodes of this NBC series. seeing him on "AIRWOLF" was pure class, especially after the failure of "GENESIS II", a CBS movie of the week from 1973 that Gene Roddenberry created and produced for Warner Bros. Television where Cord played "Dylan Hunt", a NASA research scientist experimenting with suspended animation inside of a NASA pressure chamber located in The Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico until an earthquake buried the chamber-Hunt was revived 200 years later by a PAX expedition. This could've made a great TV series, but CBS's reasoning wouldn't allow that, as the network wrote it off to favor a "PLANET OF THE APES" TV series, but this wasn't the first time that CBS rejected Gene Roddenberry, especially when he was pitching "STAR TREK" (which CBS would ironically acquire and own the franchise decades later) but they passed on "STAR TREK", in favor of "LOST IN SPACE". "GENESIS II" was history, but Roddenberry and Warners took the idea over to ABC, where they aired "PLANET EARTH" in April 1974, minus Alex Cord, who was replaced by John Saxon. So watching Alex Cord maintain a great role as "Micheal Coldsmith Briggs III" or "Archangel", after the inventor of Airwolf, played by David Hemmings, steals and hijacks his creation over to Libya, Archangel hires "Stringfellow Hawke" to recover the stolen helicopter, but only in return for the search and recovery of Hawke's MIA brother, presumed killed in action in Vietnam. Alex Cord was at home in "AIRWOLF", and after the failures with "WEB" and "GENESIS II", this was as close as he got. but CBS canceled the series in 1986, but Universal sold "AIRWOLF" to The USA Network, who gave the show another new season, but it wasn't what we had hoped for! Universal instead, gave the series to a cheap, made in Canada version, with an even cheaper budget, and a schlockmeister by the name of Arthur Annecharico (the producer of then-WTBS"s "DOWN TO EARTH" sitcom in 1984, and "SAFE AT HOME" & "ROCKY ROAD" in 1985), Annecharico was also behind "THE NEW DRAGNET" and "THE NEW ADAM 12" for his Arthur Company and MCA-TV, and the very idea that he was allowed to ruin Donald P Bellisario's creation just didn't sit well for many of "AIRWOLF"s loyal fans-especially watching the horrible and cheap job that the Canadian version of the series did, and the unforgivable absence of "Archangel", who was replaced by Black Canadian actor, Anthony Sherwood, who played "Jason Locke", or the wasted efforts of Jan Micheal Vincent's appearance as "Hawke" just didn't help this revamped bastard version, much less the unexplained departure of the Alex Cord character, or "The Firm" suddenly becoming "The Company". whatever Universal MCA was thinking here, it was a huge slap in the face to "AIRWOLF" fans, and the 24 episodes of this made in Canada junk did not help! Rest in Peace, Alex Cord-you were an amazing actor!
MarkSpeck JoeSHill 34 months ago
Annecharico also was behind another bad reboot, The Munsters Today.
Mike 34 months ago
Back from checking:
Alex Cord and Joanna Pettet were married in 1968 -
- three years before they did the Night Gallery episode in 1971.
Snickers 34 months ago
All I remember of Mr. Cord was his Airwolf role but he seemed to be a nice person. r.i.p Alex.
justjeff 34 months ago
Another lesson from "Proofreading 101":

"...who could become his lifelong friend..." WOULD become his lifelong friend... espcially since the subtitle to this article states: "The rugged TV actor met his wife on Night Gallery and was lifelong friends with Robert Fuller...." Sheesh!
BruceBeckwith 34 months ago
Mr. Cord also played Ringo in a remake of "Stagecoach", an played a SWAT member on a "Police Story" episode, Line of Fire, along side Jan Michael Vincent and Cameron Mitchell.
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ruswilinc MichaelPowers 34 months ago
Opinions on are like.....
Snickers MichaelPowers 34 months ago
Really didn't care for the Battlestar Galactica reboot and never saw the " The Lost in Space"reboot.And let's face it Lost in space was aired back in the 60's with a small amount of money set aside for special effects.
MichaelSkaggs Snickers 34 months ago
They did a reboot of Fantasy Island in the late 1990s. The only interesting part of it was the discovery that the pilot of the plane at the beginning of each episode was Amelia Earhart.
Snickers MichaelSkaggs 34 months ago
Interesting. I don't remember that Fantasy Island reboot.
DethBiz 34 months ago
RIP Mr. Cord. Ironically watched him in a circus episode of Murder She Wrote the other day.
BrittReid 34 months ago
R.I.P. Alex Cord. Always liked Airwolf. The fourth season is unwatchable.
cperrynaples 34 months ago
If I remember correctly. the big scene in Genesis 2 was Mariette Hartley had 2 belly buttons!
justjeff cperrynaples 34 months ago
One of those belly buttons was the one missing from Jeannie (as the TV censors said she couldn't have (a visible) one...
Michael cperrynaples 34 months ago
Yes. Thiugh I had to make sure it wasn't in the other Dylan Hunt movie from the seventies, "Planet Earth" with John Saxon. Same concept, different cast, except Ted Cassidy was in both.

Back when we didn't get enough Science Fiction on tv.
justjeff 34 months ago
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