In the 1970s and '80s, character actor Jerry Hardin established a niche in television and films as one of those faces often seen but rarely recognized - that is until 1993 he donned the nickname of the one of the most famous whistleblowers in history on a pop culture phenomenon. The Texas-born Hardin found his groove as denizen of regional theater in the 1950s and '60s. Entering the next decade, he became a go-to guest-star on episodic television, carving a niche as officious types and "good ole boys," as per his brief entrée into situation comedy with the short-lived show "Filthy Rich" (CBS, 1982-83). He typically won roles as authority figures, cops, politicos and bureaucrats, conspicuously for some of Hollywood's biggest directors, and periodically popped up in recurring TV roles, as with his multi-year stint as the Los Angeles DA in "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-94). A recurring part on "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) would make his most lasting impression, as Hardin took on the role of Agent Mulder's cryptic deep-cover source, known only as "Deep Throat." Though never a household name, Jerry Hardin would remain a familiar, amiable countenance through myriad-if-brief media appearances, yet his turn as Deep Throat would imprint him as a lynchpin on one of TV's biggest series, his famous last words becoming the show's penultimate catchphrase: "Trust no one."
Hardin was born in Dallas, TX on Nov. 20, 1929, and grew up on his family ranch outside the metroplex. He gravitated to acting in school productions and went on to study drama at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. He won a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, leveraging it to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He returned to the U.S. in the early 1950s, working in live theater, including a six-year stint with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. There, he roomed with improvisational theater pioneer Del Close and the rep toured its productions to rave reviews. Hardin also began a relationship with a young Barter apprentice, Diane Hill, whom he would marry in 1959. Hardin made his first feature film appearance in 1958 in a small uncredited role in the Robert Mitchum film "Thunder Road," a rare location-shot movie filmed in nearby Ashville, NC. In 1960, Hardin won his first Broadway job, playing Peto in a two-part production of Shakespeare's "Henry IV," which ran three months and was filmed for an episode of the syndicated anthology TV series "Play of the Week" (1959-1961).
The Hardins started a family with the birth of son Shawn in 1962, followed five years later by daughter Melora. They resettled in Los Angeles and began picking up odd TV work and occasional small roles in features, where Diane would establish a distinguished career as a drama coach. Jerry settled into a type, often cast as authority figures, clergymen, doctors, bureaucrats and, most often, cops and military brass. In 1982, Harry and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason made Hardin the foil of their sitcom "Filthy Rich." Co-starring with Dixie Carter and Delta Burke, he played the boorish, illegitimate redneck son of a wealthy Southern eccentric, whose family must cohabitate with more proper heirs in order to receive their inheritance. In 1986, he began a recurring role as the DA at odds with the lawyers of "L.A. Law" (1986-1994), reprised periodically through the show's run. He supplemented frequent TV guest and telefilm work with a run of roles in high-profile films by top directors: Warren Beatty's "Reds" (1981), Costa-Gavras's "Missing" (1982), Paul Mazursky's Shakespeare retrofit "The Tempest" (1982), Clint Eastwood's "Honkytonk Man" (1982), John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China" (1986), Robert Redford's "The Milagro Beanfield War" (1988), Sydney Pollack's "The Firm" (1993), and Rob Reiner's "Ghosts of Mississippi" (1996).
Hardin also did a trio of films by John Schlesinger: the comedy misfire "Honky Tonk Freeway" (1981), the Cold War espionage drama "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985) and the domestic thriller "Pacific Heights" (1990). He drew perhaps his juiciest role as a Louisiana politico in Ron Shelton's chronicle of the May-November romance between Governor Earl Long and stripper Blaze Starr, "Blaze" (1989). In 1992, Hardin donned the guise of Mark Twain to co-star in the fan favorite, two-part episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994) dubbed "Time's Arrow," in which the literary great lends a hand to the time-traveling crew of the Enterprise. Enamored with the character, Hardin decided to bring it to different venues, putting together a one-man theatrical show that he would stage upon request in ensuing years. He picked up passing recurring roles as well on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (CBS, 1993-98) and "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99), but he would take a role with more staying power in 1993.
"The X-Files" would follow two FBI agents, Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson), as they investigated different paranormal cases each week, some stand-alone stories characterized as "monster-of-the-week" episodes; others bound by what was dubbed "mythology," a Byzantine arc running the agents up against a powerful shadow-government cabal attempting to re-engineer mankind in anticipation of an alien invasion. Creator Carter reportedly saw Hardin's turn in "The Firm" and handpicked him for a key character in the mythology. Hardin made his debut in the show's second episode as a longtime member of the intelligence community and the cabal, who worked against his cohorts as Mulder's source for deep-cover information. Mulder referred to him only as "Deep Throat," a name derived from Bob Woodward's source from the Washington Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. Hardin reprised the role 10 more times over the course of the show's run, even well after his character met a violent end in the Season 1 finale, as his role in the conspiracy would continue to crop up in flashbacks.
With his enshrinement in the sci-fi pantheon, Hardin like so many actors in cult series hit stride as a go-to player for genre projects, among them guest-turns on "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001), Carter's "Millennium," "Brimstone" (Fox, 1998-99), "X-Files" producer Howard Gordon's short-lived series "Strange World" (Sci Fi, 1999), "Sliders" (Fox/Sci Fi, 1995-2000). In 2000, Hardin took a role in the ensemble of the indie drama "Certain Guys," a grownups-at-crossroads film that afforded him the opportunity to act with his daughter Melora Hardin, who would go on to greater frame as Jan in the U.S. version of "The Office" (NBC, 2005- ). He continued to do frequent TV guest appearances and find the odd feature supporting parts in films such as "Hidalgo" (2004), "Are We There Yet" (2005), "Extreme Dating" (2005) and the indie neo-noir thriller "The Last Lullaby" (2008). In 2009, Melora directed herself, her husband, Gildart Jackson, and her father in the personal heartfelt tale "You," a family drama about the relationship between a father and daughter over a course of decades, which also featured Melora's daughters in prominent roles.
By Matthew Grimm
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Motion picture acting debut, "Thunder Road"
TV movie acting debut, "Hurricane"
Starred in TV series, "Filthy Rich"