Randolph Mantooth AKA Johnny Gage from ‘Emergency!’ makes rare appearance at 78

It’s getting harder and harder to see all of Hollywood getting older or passing on…

When I see them as they’ve aged, it just reminds me that I’m getting older too, and that these people aren’t in their 30’s anymore.Just take the Randolph Mantooth for instance – he was a childhood hero of many and rose to fame as Johnny Gage in the cult series Emergency!.When I see him today, it’s hard to take in that this cancer survivor has reached the age of 72.

Just scroll down to see what this talented actor is up to now…In retrospect, you can argue that Emergency! (1972-1979) is one of the best TV shows ever aired, because it helped persuade a lot of fire departments to establish paramedic units. The show was groundbreaking in many ways – it was one of the first to depict paramedics and emergency medical services in a realistic and dramatic way.When Emergency! first aired, there were only 13 paramedic units in the entire United States, and eight of them were in California.

Randolph ”Randy” Mantooth’s portrayal of Johnny Gage, a Native American paramedic, resonated with viewers and played a pivotal role in the show’s success.

To prepare for their roles as firefighter paramedics on TV, Mantooth and his co-star, Kevin Tighe, who played the character of firefighter paramedic Roy DeSoto, actively rode along with real firefighters and paramedics.His dedication to the role and the authenticity he brought to it left a lasting impact on the medical drama genre and continues to be remembered and celebrated by fans all over the world. But what happened to Randy after the show?

Over the years, the once-celebrated hero has faced a series of hardships, including grappling with cancer, a string of unfortunate romantic relationships, and enduring a tragic auto accident that claimed his sister’s life.

But actually, Randolph Mantooth has faced challenges throughout his life. Born as Randy DeRoy Mantooth on September 19, 1945, he found himself having to stand up for his name from a young age.Randolph’s father was three-fourths Seminole, and his mother had German roots. In school, he was constantly teased because of his last name. As if these challenges weren’t enough, the young Randolph never had the chance to establish a stable home.

His father worked as a pipeline constructer, and by the time Randolph had turned 16, he had lived in every state except for Maine, Alaska, Vermont, and Hawaii.

”It’s an easy name to make fun of and I was Womantooth, Babytooth, Tigertooth – you name it. Being that I grew up in 46 different states, it was a never-ending problem. All of a sudden I’d be worn on the floor wrestling, just over my name. I became a fighter and a bluffer,” Mantooth told The Sacramento Bee in 1979. When he attended high school, Randolph’s parents divorced. A teacher in his school suggested that he should take drama classes to work off his hostilities.A real firefighter?
In the 1960s, he received a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and moved to the Big Apple. While trying to break through in the entertainment industry, Randolph worked as an elevator operator at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church and as a page at NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center.

He also made appearances on various dramatic series like McCloud (1970) and Alias Smith and Jones (1971). However, it was his role as paramedic John Gage on Emergency! that propelled Randolph to stardom and made him a household name. His character on Emergency! was named after the late Jim Page, a Los Angeles battalion chief who served as the show’s technical adviser.”When the show first started, the executive producer, Bob Cinader, told all the writers they couldn’t make anything up. They had to actually get the rescues out of a fire log. It didn’t have to be Los Angeles—it could be Chicago, New York or somewhere else—but it had to be real,” Mantooth said.

His dark looks and easy-going nature made him a favorite with the show’s youthful audience, and he was elevated to heartthrob status.

But, as it often does, his fame came with a price.
After the show ended in 1977, Randolph’s career slowed down and he had a crisis.

His biggest problem? No one saw him as an actor. Mantooth had impersonated a fire department paramedic for so long that a lot of people were convinced he was a real fireman.

”After the show was gone, the first couple of times I would go out, people would consistently say, ’Aha, the old acting bug got you, eh?”After about a month of this, I started stopping people and asking, ’What are you saying?’ When they said they thought I was a fireman, I got so depressed I told my wife, ’My career is over,’” he told Lexington Herald-Leader in 1979.

For a few years after the show ended, he just couldn’t get a job unless it was a Johnny Gage type of role. Every role he was offered revolved around having to wear a uniform or play the same heroic yet goofy character.

With this insight, he decided to leave Hollywood behind and moved back to New York to work in soap operas. Over the years, Mantooth has contributed to other television series and made appearances in General Hospital, One Life to Live, and As the World Turns.

Randolph Mantooth’s love lifeRegarding Mantooth’s romantic life, he has tied the knot two times. His first marriage was to Rose Parra, and they lived together from 1978 to 1991.

Today, the beloved actor Randolph Mantooth is married to Kristen Connors, the couple exchanged vows in 2002. Despite having experienced two enduring relationships, it’s worth noting that the actor does not have any children.Randolph Mantooth today
Looking at IMDb, Mantooth is no longer active as an actor in film and TV today. His most recent credit is from 2013. However, he has continued to work in the theater, participating in a few stage productions.The 78-year-old star has served as a motivational speaker at Fire Service and EMS Conferences and Special Events since 1986. During the 150th anniversary celebration of the Pioneer Fire Company in Pennsylvania, numerous firefighters expressed their strong desire for ”Johnny Gage” to be the featured speaker.

They said that he had been a profound source of inspiration for many of them in their journeys to become firefighters. Back in 2017, when Randolph joined their evening event, he shared a heartbreaking story that moved the 300 guests to tears.

During the same event, Mantooth also expressed his astonishment at the number of individuals he had inspired to pursue careers as firefighters and paramedics.However, he humbly stated that the credit should not be attributed to him or the character of Gage; it was a collective effort.“I wish I could take credit for it. I can’t,” Mantooth said. “I didn’t really inspire them. The show did. We didn’t know Emergency! was changing the face of emergency medicine forever. We were just getting up and going to work like everybody else,” he said.

Speaking of show, it’s interesting to note that Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe have maintained their friendship and continue to spend time together.Their enduring connection is a testament to the strong bond formed during their time working on the show, which has transcended the years and kept them close even after the series ended.

”He’s my best friend, and I talk to him once a week. “Emergency!” never worked out for him [in terms of promoting him] as an actor. He couldn’t get a job for two years after the show. He had to go out and reinvent himself, so he became a villain in shows, and a damn good one,” Mantooth has said of his friend.

Cancer diagnosis
In 2015, Mantooth shocked his fans when he disclosed that he had received a cancer diagnosis earlier that same year. Luckily, he successfully completed the necessary treatment, moving towards a path of recovery.”Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with cancer, and I decided to share that news with only a small circle of family and friends,” Mantooth wrote in an Facebook post and added:

”I am feeling stronger every day and am focusing now on getting back to my normal life as quickly as I can.”Thanks for all the memories on TV and for what you’ve done for the firefighting community over the years! Feel free to share this article on social media if you used to watch Emergency too!

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