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, Motorcycle Racer..
Research: Motorcycle MagazinesOn-Line encyclopediasNews Paper Cuttings
Scrap Books/ Submissions
Richard Wyler in one of his Spaghetti Westerns
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, (Joe raced bikes in the UK and the Continental circus, he also wrote a column in the Motor Cyclist Illustrated magazine 'Joe Dunphy's Diary') 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.
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.
Richard and Joe Dumphy Continental Greeves Tour March 1961 32DC Sports Twin
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 Information is from:
The First Picture is of Joe Dumphy 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 said on the previous page, 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. 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.
The brand new AJS 7R (opposite), 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.
Richard's Buy-Line: 'Where only the Best is Good Enough for You'.
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 Damsel in Distress
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's Party Guest
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
Richard Wyler in The Saint with Roger Moore.
Richard taking part in the Thruxton 500 mile Enduro. Richard is riding a Greeves 250cc Twin. This is a 250cc Production Class Race Event
Sorry about the 4-stroke sound track - Pathe News put it there.
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.
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.
Dick Wyler on the Ex. Fred Neville Ajay 7R. He was no slouch on the track
Fred Neville at his first 350cc Manx GP
This new machine, 350cc AJS 7R quickly justified its purchase securing a win in the heat and final of its first meeting at Brands Hatch
Fred Neville and his Dad in the shop in Worcester Park
Richard Wyler at full speed on the Honda CR93 125cc Twin
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.
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 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)..
Just for a moment we go back to Joe Dumphy, 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. 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 Dumphy,s Diary. Each month he would cover the points of interest that took place in the world of motorcycling.
Joe Dumphy with Francis Beart 1967
Richard Wyler 1923 - 2010 (This is an Obituary to Dick from on 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 Dumphy, 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 with 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.
A small piece from Joe's column
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 that the UK shops as the volume of trade between Japan and the US made for better stocking.
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.
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. Dick did not have the pipes or headlamp required but sent a letter explaining what he could do to get them.
A press letter sent out to the media and to customers and prospects.