Name: Richard Wyler (born Richard Stapley)
Birth date: 20.June 1923
Birth Place: Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex England
Date of Death : 5th March 2010 (Age: 86)
Place of Death : Palm Springs, California, USA
Nationality: English (naturalised American)
Actor, Author, Motorcycles Racer..
Excerpts from 'The Independent' newspaper. (with additional research and photographs by Jeep)
Richard Stapley belonged to a generation of movie actors who plied their trade during the halcyon days of Hollywood – when stars were great and dalliances were discreet. Although predominantly an actor, he had polymath qualities ranging from writer and motorcycle racer to courier. His beginnings in no way mirrored the glamorous world of Hollywood. Born on 20 June 1923 in Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex, he was the son of a bank manager. He grew up in Brighton and from an early age fell in love with the silver screen. Stapley attended Varndean College in Brighton; one of his contemporaries there was Paul Scofield, with whom he remained friends.
Varndean's opening comment about itself: 'Our aim here at Varndean College is to develop students into well-rounded, confident and free thinking individuals who are aspirational and ready to move on to the next stage of their lives. Located in the green outskirts of Brighton, we offer 16 to 19 year-old daytime students a wide range of academic and vocational courses, as well as being the only state-funded college in the area to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma'. (a university bachelor's degree.)
After serving in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, Stapley got into repertory theatre and decided at an early age that if he was going to make it in movies he would have to go to the USA. Slim, charming, and graced with diamond blue eyes and a deep, educated English accent, Wyler (Stapley) soon caught the eye of the movie-makers and a number of actresses as well.
TV Actor Richard Wyler entered the marriage stakes and proposed during a 13,000 mile telephone call to Elizabeth Emerson in Phoenix Arizona. The photograph is of the couple after their engagement supper. The wedding ceremony was in New Bond Street London on the October 3rd 1963. The couple first met on a blind date in the US in 1958. They later separated, but did not divorce and lived independent lives on good terms.
Stapley had a steady stream of character parts in many of the mainstream TV series of the 1960s and 1970s, including The Baron, Z Cars, The Saint and Return of the Saint. His work also included appearing in a number of the legendary Imperial Leather soap TV adverts, exuding a sybaritic lifestyle and attaining what can only be described as a lifetime achievement of sharing a bath (on set) with his co-star, namely one Joanna Lumley. (Picture is of Wyler in one of his Spaghetti Western roles)
If acting was a love, motorcycles were Wyler's passion and it is no surprise that he counted among his friends the stunt rider from The Great Escape responsible for the death-defying jump made by Steve McQueen. Stapley himself partook in motorcycle stunts, although one went horrendously wrong and he severely broke his leg, but determined to ride again, he made an ultra-quick recovery. (Picture: Steve McQueen)
Stapley rode motorcycles in professional races, including dices with the likes of Mike Hailwood. In the early 60's he wrote a regular column for Motor Cycling magazine, 'Richard Wyler's Coffee Bar Column', recounting tales of his acting exploits or thrills on the race track. He received praise from the Metropolitan Police for dissuading young motorcyclists at the famous Ace Café on London's North Circular Road from indulging in the potentially lethal dare of "dropping the coin right into the slot" and racing to a given point and back before the record on the jukebox finished.
The goal of many 'Rockers' who visited the "ACE" was to be able to reach 100 miles per hour (called simply "the ton") along such a route where the rider would leave from a café, race to a predetermined point and back to the café before a single song could play on the jukebox, called record-racing. A classic example of this was to race from the Ace Café on The North Circular road in NW London to the Hanger Lane junction as it then was, it is now the more famous Hanger Lane Gyratory System - and back again. The aim was to get back to the Ace Café before the record on the jukebox had finished. The ACE did lose some friends on "Murder Mile". They are remembered as being especially fond of Rockabilly music and their image is now embedded in today's rockabilly culture. I, Jeep, was one of these guys and it was during this time that I first met Dick Wyler. (Pictures: The ACE Café 1960s and the ACE Café in 2010)
During the 1960s he also opened one of the first coffee bars near Streatham Ice Rink in South London. Richard also had his own dispatch riders company in London and used his race-track experience on one occasion to get a very important package from the centre of London to Northolt Airfield through heavy traffic in about 30 minutes.
With reference to the above, I first remember meeting Richard Wyler back in 1959/ 60 at the ACE. He was a consummate speaker and would chat with any of the people there. (Click the Logo to enter the ACE Facebook page). I also remember him before that when a TV program "The Man from Interpol" was showing. The show was produced in the UK in 1958/59. It was only in 1961 that I met with him again at a Chiltern 50 Snetterton Enduro to find out how much he still loved his motorbikes. I was only a spectator but the story below is penned by Richard, with some bits added from my memories of the day, which I hope gives you a feeling of excitement that the race gave us, the followers of the "50's" It covers more than just the Enduro as I think it will interest you all.
Richard Wyler - How he started the 1961 season
"It’s 6 a.m., Good Friday—the year, 1961. I am amused that after a late night I find myself impatiently ready to get up at such an early hour with wide-open eyes and a tingle of excitement. I strain my head out of the window to see a healthy promise in the sky. I certainly don't do this on normal days. I might have to do it for an early call when I'm filming, but I don't relish it. However, this is different. It's England - and it's the beginning of a new racing season".
How different the paddock at Brands looks in the early morning on race day from the comparative quiet of a practice day. The machines' insistent, excited heart-beats become synchronised with the humans’ and the deafening noise echoes around the Kent countryside like all hell is going to break loose. I wish I were riding. Or do I? This warm-up is the awful hour, and a couple of riders tell me they wish they were in my shoes — spectating.
Mike Hailwood, grinning good-naturedly, says "When are you going to have a go?, chicken?" The friendly old gang's all here, Fred Neville. Joe Dunphy. Phil Read, Bob Rowe. I'm on the other side of the fence today and it's my own autograph book that's handy, with shy 'hellos' to Minter, Hartle and Paddy Driver.
It's a beautiful day and a massive crowd is pouring in. The practice, perhaps, has released some of those inner tensions, but the excitement has to build to gigantic proportions until that moment of truth, when the starter's flag drops. We hope no one we know will be in danger, but there is nothing that can ever give us a guarantee on this point.
The flag drops! Good starts, bad starts, win, lose, who cares? You've never had it so good so the man says, if you're a motorcyclist you should thank your lucky, stars you’re where you are, for you've a heck of a lot to look forward to in 1961.
And so, I realise, have I. I already know I shall be riding in the Silverstone 1.000 km.; I've accepted an offer to ride in the 1961 Chiltern Enduro for 50cc. machines, Thruxton 500 looks definite, and I have hopes of a couple of Clubman's meetings.
I'm up at Silverstone to see the "Hutch." As I watch the guys heel over and streak round Copse, I figure it'll be six weeks and I’ll be doing it. It makes me feel a bit funny inside and I wonder what criticisms will be levelled at my cornering! Hoppy Hopkins, fellow American and racing buddy, is standing next to me. and I say to him that I don't want to watch another road race before I do one myself, If I do, I'll probably go chicken and cancel my entry,
The First of May is here and it's a week to the Chiltern Enduro. I'm to be entered by Duncan Mitchell of MW Concessionaires, and I'm to ride with Tony Dobson. Our mount is to be a 48cc Royal Nord.
I've never even sat on a 50cc machine, and as the race draws nearer I send pathetic letters to Tony in Kettering asking him if he realizes that 6 ft 1 inch has to be folded around a tiddler and what kind of a sadistic torturer is he? My thinly veiled pleas to be allowed to withdraw are methodically ignored. I call Teddy Comerford, who is entering me for the Thruxton '500' and tell him of my approaching ordeal. He invites me to lunch at the R.A.C. Club and instead of a steak he treats me to a couple of hours in the Turkish!!!
I never will forget the sight of a member sitting stark naked in the steam room, reading 'The Times' and wearing a monocle! I stuck it out in the hottest steam room until I couldn't sweat any more. Never has a guy done so much in consideration of the burden the little machine has to carry.
Feeling a stone lighter, I set off for Norwich where I have been invited to stay overnight with friends before the race. The country has never looked more beautiful and I feel that its looking this way just because maybe, I'll never see it again!
I have vivid mental pictures going through my mind of the pits and after, and the bemused crowds watching me at the start. I run three short paces bump it and the bike collapses in front of the hysterical onlookers, is that how it's going to be! It's getting dark as I pass the Snetterton circuit. I force myself to drive the car twice round the track which seems very bumpy. It looks as though it will rain, and it's also very windy I reckon if it's a 50 mph headwind I'll lap at just about 2 m.p.h., then, on to Norwich.
I wake at 6 am., breakfast on one boiled egg and feel half-starved. By the time I reach the Paddock I feel pretty fine. In fact when I see the van arrive with the beautiful yellow Royal Nord I actually run to get it out quick. Result - I catch my foot in a pot-hole and fall flat on my face. 'Lucky', I think to myself, I have my leathers on. Margaret Ward, secretary of 'Bemsee' is looking on with amusement and cracks "Is it a Le Mans start today?" (Picture: Dick Wyler dressed for action).
By now, however, nothing can get me down hearted and I know I'm going to enjoy the day. I find that there is a way to fold myself around the machine. The bike really goes and it steers well. I lap in under four minutes. Only one change is needed from the four-speed box at the hairpin. By the time I've qualified; I'm raring to go.
The race was to be a mass start and our number was 46. We decided to split the times into 45 minute sessions. We were doing O.K., but our 60 plus mph. maximum isn't holding up to the almost incredible speeds of the premier Italian ITOMs and Motoms. By about the fourth lap of my first session I'm really beginning to enjoy myself. Then, fifth time into the hairpin, I change down to third only to find that there isn't a third gear anymore. I make the corner and as I open up I find I'm in neutral. Into the pits for a check.
I am out again and going well but there is a problem and the engine is misfiring. I pull over as the bike splutters asthmatically. I do a fast plug change. To my bitter disappointment I find that the gear leaver won’t budge. I bump it and crawl away in top.
Machine is now going well , so I decide to do another lap and see if it'll hold up at least for my stint. Next time round, right in front of the pits it vibrates into neutral and I stop dead.
My charming pit friends signal me to walk the bike round the 2.71 mile circuit. I start to walk up the gradient, think 'to hell with this' and manage to find top gear again, bump it – and we're of at about 10 mph, until the right hander and level ground is reached. Soon we're at peak revs and sailing along fine. Next time round it's thumbs up, and stays that way until I bring it in for the change over. The gear selector inside had been sheared, we learn, and as no spares had arrived before the race we decided to continue with the one gear.
I’m so "with it" that I can't wait for Tony to finish his session. It's now I remember that I should be suffering from cramp and I have none. I managed to break the monotony of those comparatively slow, seemingly unending circuits. The upgrade to the pits becomes a mountain, and one really has to nurse the gallant little Royal Nord. But after the right-hander the bike streaks happily ahead. Then I enjoy the Esses and shortly after prepare for the climbs and cheerful familiar faces and thumbs-up from the pits. And so on till the end. (Picture: Wyler during a pit stop.)
It was a wonderful day and what impressed me most was the genuine excitement it contained. These "50's" are something to be reckoned with, and I look forward to the next race with anticipation.
As I drove home to London, I realised that my next “Enduro” would be about 370 miles longer and I'd be coping with 600 additional c.c.s!
A different view on Endurance racing and my preparations for the Silverstone 1,000km race began on May 9th when I went up to the Triumph factory. Neale Shilton, General Sales Manager, had been kind enough to offer me the loan of a TR6 so that I could get a day's practice at Silverstone. A week before the race I rode up to Theberton, Suffolk, to see Pat Keeble, who was entering Brian Denehy and myself.
The day was perfect, and I realized just how much I missed my old “Bonneville." I hope I'll be able to take the “Silverstone Bonneville " back home after it's done its destined second race at Thruxton. Pat Keeble has a very attractive showroom, filling station and café right in the heart of the beautiful Suffolk countryside. It was quite hot when I arrived at 10 a.m. and Pat's greeting was as warm as the sun. He put me completely at ease about the race. “I don't care if you don't win," he said. “Just try to finish. Doesn't matter if you don't finish; don’t worry and don't hurt yourself. But if you do drop it, don't worry about that either." How nice can a guy be? Mrs. Keeble had cooked a couple of pheasants for our lunch. It was one of the best meals I've ever tasted which was followed by a dash back to London on the TR6 and the comparative unrealities of an interview for a movie magazine!
On the Tuesday before race day I was up at Silverstone for practice. Fred Neville was kind enough to take me around and show me the right line, while Margaret Ward stood by with a stop-watch. Well, I thought I was going fast! I pulled in after 10 laps to find I wasn't even on the speed table! Neville and Alan Rutherford passed me once on Hangar Straight (top on the TR6 was about 105 m.p.h.) and I thought I'd follow them into Stowe Corner and that was nearly the end of Wyler! I jammed everything on and wobbled round with my heart in my mouth, feeling about 2 ft. tall!
Next time around I saw a bird (winged type) sitting on the track by Stowe. I guess he was laughing so much he couldn't fly. Anyway, he took off late and I sadly massacred him with my knuckles at over the ton. At least I was now on the table, and I thought that if I could do the actual race at a steady 75 m.p.h. with faster partner Brian Denehy, we might stand a chance of finishing fairly high.
I left for Silverstone at lunch-time on Friday, as my Number 10 had a four-thirty p.m. scrutineering date. By now the butterflies were breeding and I was asking myself why the hell did I enter? The weather looked grey and threatening and I prayed very hard it wouldn't rain. The entrance flags hung limp in the oppressive overcast air. Already the vans were rolling in. Helmets, bikes and clothing were scrutineered. I rode the “Bonneville" for the first time on the test straight. I wasn't prepared for the close-ratio box and it seemed an untamed stranger compared to the familiar "Trophy."
Fred Neville asked me to join him and Bruce Daniels at some dance in Leicester but I wanted to hang around the bike for as long as possible and get an early bed.
Syd Lawton gave me a few helpful hints, and when the darkness fell I went back to the very attractive country pub where Joe Dunphy, Jim Russell, their mechanic and I were staying. After a couple of beers with Margaret Ward and chief marshal Dennis Bates, I went to bed and fell into a distinctly nervous sleep. At six a.m. I was up, feeling like a condemned man as I climbed into my leathers. It was miserably overcast as I drove to the circuit, and a few spots of rain fell during practice. All the old friends from every race meeting I'd gone to were there. Today was different, I was racing!
My practice laps were on the table, but not fast enough. But having at least qualified I was actually feeling relaxed and happy and anxious for my turn to come up at 11.30, for in this race we'd agreed to take 90 minutes each.
Brian got a good Start and for the first few laps we lay about 15th. He was lapping at just over 80 m.p.h. Waiting an hour and a half is hell, but it dragged by. His sign was out to come in next lap, and I grabbed my helmet and gloves. I looked up to the crowd above the pits to see the Horton brothers, friends from scrambling events. "When do you go out?" they asked. “Next lap," I said. “Good " they chorused with wicked glee.
Here came Number 10. The bars were in my hands now, into gear, carefully through the chicane, fill up with Shell, look over the shoulder, goggles down, Copse Corner, and I'm on, on for what seemed like an interminable hour and a half.
Pit board signals came out - 2.28; 2.26; 2.24; 2.20. I was feeling at home and improving my lap times:
I noticed the speedo on Hangar Straight, over 120 mph. I never mastered Stowe as I would have liked, felt happier at Club, very happy full out at Abbey, and somewhat self-critical at Becketts. We were 12th when I took over and 13th when I gave it back. The only time I felt tired in the whole eight hours was when I handed over the bike for the first time. I felt like I couldn't stand, and I nearly dropped it!
The time off seemed to fly by. When I returned to the pits, a half-hour before I was due to take over again, Brian was in and there were too many parts lying around for my liking. The primary chain had gone and there was a gaping hole in the cover. Pat Keeble decided to call us in every 20minutes to smother the new chain in graphite oil.
It certainly broke up the next 90 minutes to see, every 20 of them, the sign No. 10—IN! We'd pull in as fast as possible; get a dose of oil and depart a couple of seconds later streaming like crazy. We were still quite high up, about 15 and the bike was going beautifully.
Other machines were really beginning to drop out but it looked like our luck would hold. Came 2 p.m., 3p.m. and then 3.30 and over once more to Brian. At 15 minutes before 5 p.m. (it looked as though Daniels and Peter Darvill would bring the B.M.W. in for a 5.40 win) I was ready for my last Stint: The sign was out for Brian to come in and I was set to take over.
His E.T.A. came and went and seconds later he crawled to a Stop on the wrong side of the straw bales! The new primary chain had gone and he had been unable to make it to the pit entrance. He was marshalled into the area by the refuelling bay. Pat seemed to think this was it for us. I offered to push the bike round, I might just have been able to do it by finishing time. But a helpful marshal informed us that Brian was allowed to replace the chain if he did it unaided. Brian gallantly tore into that little job, and I take my hat off to him, because he must have been pretty tired by now.
By 5.15 he had finished, and I was off again on a bike covered with black oil. I held my breath for the balance of the race and that chequered flag was a fabulously welcome sight. In common with all the other “Bonneville’s " entered, we'd finished. I felt so marvellous I think I could have gone on all night, and almost wished it had been a 24-hour endurance affair! I'd learned a lot, and I hope I'll be back next year to make good the mistakes I know l made
The performance of the bike was first rate with almost no vibration at any speed in any gear. The front brake never once had to be adjusted and was perfect at the end of the race.
The meeting was a wonderfully well organized affair and next year I hope the trade will give it the support it deserves. For me, it was another highlight, and more proof that, without doubt motorcycle racing IS just about the finest sport going. I hope I'll soon be in the Island, in the thick of the best of it! Picture: (Triumph Bonneville 1961 John Holder and Tony Godfrey Win the Production race)
Richard taking part in his second production Enduro the Thruxton 500 mile 1961. Richard is riding a Greeves 250cc twin in the '250cc Production Class' of the race event.
Sorry about the 4-stroke sound track - Pathé News put it there.
The European Tour - 1961
In 1960, Sales Manager Derry Preston Cobb conceived a publicity stunt for the latest Greeves roadsters, in which TV actor and motorcycle enthusiast, Richard Wyler (famed for the TV Series The Man from Interpol) and road racer Joe Dunphy, would tour as many European cities as possible in eight days, on the bikes provided by Greeves. The bikes travelled down as far as Milan, Italy. (Joe raced bikes in the UK and in the Continental circus, he also wrote a column in the Motor Cyclist Illustrated magazine 'Joe Dunphy's Diary').
A brand new 32DC, 171 VEV, was taken off the production line to join the press bike 32DC, 950 UNO, for the trip. Despite some mishaps the trip was successfully completed and was featured in the March 23rd and 30th editions of Motor Cycling. After the trip, 171 VEV was retained by the factory as Bert Greeves' personal machine and was used to try out developments as they came along, which explains why the bike is fitted with some later fibreglass parts. These new additions ( Essex model) are however very much a part of the bike's history and the current owner has resisted restoring the bike to standard form because of that. The whereabouts of 950 UNO is not known.
This Picture is of Joe Dunphy on a 250cc Greeves Silverstone with Starmaker Engine. The other pictures are of the Greeves 250cc Twin Ridden by Dick through Europe to Milan
Richard Wyler, as I have previously said, had his own dispatch rider company in London using local riders with their own motorcycles. His view and approach was that the service would be like the American Pony Express, a rider getting a letter or package from point A to point B in the quickest time possible with out breaking the law. The mention of a special package before, was referring to an item of medical significance that had to be delivered to a hospital as quickly as possible as it was a cold packed item and needed to stay that way. Richard used his motorcycling skills and with the assistance of the Police delivered the package from Central London to Northolt Aerodrome in 30 minutes to allow it to be flown to the north of England.
Richard was a good friend of Fred Neville and they used to race together. Fred opened a shop in Worcester Park and Dick used to go there often. It seems that Fred's Dad sold the old Greengrocers business to help fund the shop along with other financial help from Dick. Fred's love of bikes and racing fell in well with Dicks own outlook. He learned a lot from Fred and his Dad about the shop, the service approach to customers and what went on in the back of the shop with the maintenance of bikes.. (This is a picture of Fred and his Dad in the shop at Worcester Park.)
This brand new AJS 7R 350cc, was delivered in July 1959. The new machine quickly justified its purchase securing a wins for Fred in the heat and final of its first meeting at Brands Hatch. This 7R when sold, passed to Lewis Young.
Fred had raced this AJS 7R and a Matchless G50 in the earlier days but as he improved he changed the 350 7R to a Manx Norton. In 1961 he changed back to another AJS 7R, which would later become Dicks.
Fred was on this machine in the Isle of Man when he was killed whilst leading the 1961 350cc Manx GP.
This curtailed a career that had seen him rise to the top of the privateer ranks in only three years. After Fred was killed his father ran the shop for a about six months and then moved to Brighton where he ran a coffee shop on the Devils Dyke.
At this time Dick purchased the shop and Fred's Ajay 7R which he campaigned in a number of races. Dick always had the look of the film & T/V star about him. With his handmade fitted leathers and sun glasses.
He just wanted to be part of the racing scene and race bikes. He would help anyone where he could and as a result they would help him. He was said to be a really nice chap.
On the track he was a competitive rider and would do anything in a sportsmanlike way to win. In the shop he wanted to make a go of it and so it had to make money but his prices and charges were always fair. With regards to other help he would always go out of his way to resolve a problem or find a part that he did not stock. With his contacts in the USA he was able to find spare parts from the Japanese factories easier than the UK shops as the volume of trade between Japan and the US made for better stocking. (Pictures: Wyler on the Ex. Fred Neville AJS 7R. He was no slouch on the track)
The other area that Dick excelled in was getting American cosmetic part for the bikes. Handlebars, Mudguards, Tanks and Exhaust Pipes. One of our Facebook Group members had a situation back in 1963 where he wanted to personalise his Triumph to the American style.
This first picture is of Dick's Triumph Bonneville sporting the typical USA style pipes and headlamp. Although they were to be a 'Next Years' stock item, Dick got them in from the USA to satisfy the request. The second picture is of the customers bike fitted with the parts he sourced from the USA.
Dick did not have the pipes or headlamp required but sent a letter explaining what he could do to get them. Wyler also knew the power of PR and would always push out the word with press letters sent to the media and to customers and also prospects.
During his time at the shop Dick purchased a 'new' Honda CR93 125cc production racer (1963) and started winning a few races. Many thanks have to go to the mechanics at the shop for the help they gave Dick in setting the bike up and making it the potential winner that it was.
Dick - Honda advert with a CR93
Being a celebrity, Dick was not only a rider but was also called upon to officiate at certain meetings or occasions. One such was the Brands Hatch Trophy day on Sunday the 25th June 1961 where he not only raced but gave out the trophies to the winners of the different classes in the program. He also visited again to race his 250cc Greeves on the 8th October 1961. These photographs are from the booklet 'Camera at Brands' by Ken Jones.
An advert in Motor Cycling June 8th 1961
Dick maintained contact with Fred's dad and took an address in Brighton where he carried out some of his business. His constant involvement with the Film Industry meant that he had many friends and contacts that he could call upon for help in promoting anything to do with Motorcycle Racing. (Picture: Staff Nurse Carole Young played by Jill Browne, 'Emergency Ward 10 Annual', UK 1962. See letter below.)
Dick would always use his charm and easy manner to win people over and he was no different with the written word. He had friends such as Sir Roger Moore, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen and through him, Bud Ekins. In the film The Great Escape, Steve McQueen personally attempted the jump across the border fence, but crashed. The jump was successfully performed by Bud. Dick stayed good friends with Bud and would follow his escapades in the stunt world. It was interesting that Bud was managing a Los Angeles area motorcycle shop when recruited for the 'Great Escape' stunt. It was the beginning of a new career for Ekins, as he later doubled for McQueen in Bullitt (1968) and did much of the motorcycle riding on the television series CHiPs (1977).
During this period Richard continued his acting career and was seen in the following productions:
1965 The Saint (TV Series) The Man Who Could Not Die
1964 The Saint (TV Series) The Damsel in Distress
Richard Wyler - The Man Who Could Not Die
Richard Wyler - Damsel In Distress
Sir Roger Moore - Damsel In Distress
Katherine Woodville - Damsel In Distress
1961 The Best of the Post (TV Series)
1960 The Barbarians
1960 Identity Unknown
1960 to 1964 Man from Interpol (TV Series) Interpol Agent Anthony Smith
Just for a moment we go back to Joe Dunphy, a good friend of Dick's and one of the people in the photograph and who we saw in the section on the Greeves European Tour. This biography was written in the Isle of Man TT Special paper in 1961: Age 23, Patrick Joseph Dunphy comes from London, S.W.1, and is a motor cycle manager. This is his sixth season of road racing and he has had several successes, including firsts and seconds at Brands Hatch, Crystal Palace. etc.
In the 1957 500 c.c. Newcomers' race he was third in the first lap, less than a minute behind the leader and ultimate winner, Ned Minihan, but soon afterwards his engine seized, due to a blocked oil-pump. He retired again in the 1958 Senior Manx, this time with a burnt-out clutch.
The gremlins were still with him in 1959, when a broken con-rod put him out of the Junior on the fifth lap, and again last year when he retired on the third lap of the Senior with carburettor trouble.
Joe was not only an accomplished motor cycle road racer but also a journalist. He wrote a column for the Motor Cycle Illustrated called Joe Dunphy's Diary. Each month he would cover the points of interest that took place in the world of motorcycling.
Richard Wyler 1923 - 2010 (This is an Obituary to Dick from one of the motorcycle journals)
Hollywood actors often use motorcycles as props to boost their ' street cred' but some like Richard Wyler were real enthusiasts. We are indebted to Clive Andrews for bringing Richard's passing to our attention. Older readers will no doubt remember Richard Wyler's Coffee Bar column in the UK motorcycle press during the 60s and 70s. Born Richard Stapley on June 20th 1923 in Westcliff on Sea , Essex he served in the RAF during WWII, moving to Hollywood in the 40s where he appeared in a number of films alongside Elizabeth Taylor in "Little Women" and with Gene Kelly in "The Three Musketeers," "King of the Khyber Rifles" with Tyrone Power and "The Strange Door" with Boris Karloff.
He took the surname 'Wyler' when he moved back to the UK in the early 60s for a starring role in a TV series 'T he Man From Uncle.' Alongside his acting career, Wyler was also racing a Greeves on short circuits in the UK, honing his writing talents with the first of his regular columns and, in the company of Joe Dunphy, doing a Greeves publicity tour of Europe. His novel "Naked Legacy" was published in 2004.
He even found time to open one of the earliest coffee bars in the UK. As with the 60s it looked as if Dick might be a big star in the Euro-Western genre but his career as a Spaghetti hero was short lived. However he had learned to shoot a gun and ride a horse from the Sheriff of Riverside County California. Therefore he could ride and shoot well before making his western films. In the 70s he was well known as the man in the aeroplane bath in the Imperial Leather commercials.
Richard 'Dick' Wyler died of kidney failure on Friday 5th March 2010 at Palm Springs California aged 86.
Richard Stapley, Richard Wyler or Dick Wyler, which ever and however you knew him, he was a great guy with a big heart but sadly no longer with us.
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