8 fascinating facts about Randolph Mantooth

Learn more about the 'Emergency!' star.

Sometimes an acting role is far bigger than a job. Randolph Mantooth was gifted and fortunate enough to land such a life-changing gig with Emergency! 

From 1972–79, Mantooth portrayed firefighter and paramedic John Roderick "Johnny" Gage in the series and its subsequent TV movies. Emergency! had great influence on emergency medical services in the United States and Mantooth inspired many to become paramedics. To this day, the actor humbly uses his celebrity to help the cause of firefighters and EMTs. 

Here are a handful of things you might not know about Mantooth.

1. He had to cut his hair for 'Emergency!'

When the series began, Mantooth cropped his locks to conform to the standards of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. However, as the series progressed, he let his follicles grow free. It was the 1970s, after all. Just compare this image from a late episode to the picture up top, from one of the earliest episodes.

2. He is best friends with Kevin Tighe in real life.

There was no need to fake the chemistry between Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto, played by Kevin Tighe. The two remain close and Tighe served as best man at Mantooth's second marriage in 2002.

3. He is of Seminole descent.

Mantooth is half Native American. His mother was German, while his Oklahoma-born father was of Seminole, Cherokee and Potawatomie descent. The young actor began his career as Randy Mantooth, and was asked to change his name. "Change Mantooth? What the hell would I tell my dad?" he said last year in an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network, "No, I'm not changing that." He did, however, go with the more formal Randolph.

4. He once had a job as an NBC page at Rockefeller Center.

His work for NBC began long before Emergency! hit the air. He worked as a page in the network's New York City headquarters.

5. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

A strong advocate and spokesman for emergency services workers, Mantooth has been honored by several firefighter and EMT organizations. He was awarded the James O. Page Award of Excellence from the International Association of Fire Chiefs, to name one. Page was a technical consultant for Emergency! and had a more direct link to Mantooth's character…

6. John Gage was named after LACOFD Battalion Chief Jim Page.

Originally, the character was named Jim Page in tribute to the real life hero. Series co-creator Jack Webb was known to name his fictional service workers after real life cops, etc. Some Dragnet! faces were named in honor of actual LAPD. However, Page worried that his boss would be critical of the overexposure, so he requested a change to Mantooth's character. They went with the similar sounding John Gage instead.

7. He played John Gage on three different TV series.

Gage appeared on Emergency!, its animated iteration, Emergency! + 4, as well as in an episode of the spin-off Sierra. Superfans of Saturday morning cartoons might remember Mantooth and Tighe hosting NBC's Saturday morning preview special, Starship Rescue, in 1973. Their cartoon aired an hour before Star Trek: The Animated Series.

8. He directed two episodes of "Emergency!"

The star helmed the episodes "The Nuisance" and "Insanity Epidemic." In the former, his character is hit by a car.

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