Deacon Dawson : A Life of Entertainment

By Leslie Moore

For those who’ve lived along the Grand Strand for more than a decade, the name, “Freakin’ Deacon,” will ring a bell as one of the area’s most popular radio disc jockeys. For 27 years, beginning on WKZQ in 1977, Deacon Dawson entertained us during our drives to and from work and school with his sharp wit and funny voices. What I didn’t know is that this multi-talented man is also a character actor who has worked on over 40 well known television shows and movies, appearing with names like Andy Griffith and Mary Tyler Moore, Dustin Hoffman and under the direction of George Lucas, plus many more.

After coming to Myrtle Beach right out of high school in 1968, young Deacon worked in a variety of jobs when he caught the attention of Bill Hennecy of WKZQ, who offered him a job on the air. “I had been to the station to learn the board, but wasn’t supposed to start for two weeks when Bill called and asked me to come in to replace someone. I was terrified, but I knew I had to convince listeners I knew what I was doing – and I was the ‘Freakin’ Deacon!’ When I hit the switch, I came on like a screaming banshee,” Deacon laughed remembering the day. This talented DJ went on to win Billboard Magazine’s #1 Radio Personality of the Year in 1983.

“My first acting gig was as an extra in King Kong Lives. I guess I did pretty well, because the casting guy suggested I get an agent, so I did,” Deacon told me. “Then, I started landing all sorts of jobs.” A part in a major TV movie on CBS in 1992 qualified Deacon for membership in the Screen Actors Guild and led to even more work.

“I’m mainly a character actor,” Deacon continued, sharing some fun stories about the actors he’s worked with. “I did several episodes of Matlock and met Andy Griffith. He was not the friendliest man, but we ended up getting along fine – I will say he was a brilliant actor.” When I asked about his favorite actors, Deacon immediately said, “Mary Tyler Moore. She was the sweetest woman. Once, I accidentally sat in her chair on set, and her assistant told me to move in no uncertain terms.  Ms. Moore came walking up with her dogs and said it was perfectly fine for me to sit in her chair – she wasn’t using it anyway. Then she told her assistant to never do that to me again!”

“I’m doing a film here this month – it’s called Angels Prayer, written by Ralph McLeod. Ralph wrote, Honeymoon from Hell, another movie filmed in the area – it is actually the story of Alice Flagg, but Hollywood renamed it, and it was sold to the Lifetime Channel,” Deacon said as we finished our coffee and conversation.

“I’m going to keep working,” Deacon said emphatically when I asked if he had plans to retire. My health is good and I enjoy it. Why would I stop doing the work I love?”

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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3 Responses to “Deacon Dawson : A Life of Entertainment”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    It’s enjoyable to learn about your locals. freakin’ Deacon… I like that moniker.

  2. Jody Eddins says:

    Nice article about Freakin’ Deacon’s acting career. He is a self made man who has overcome great adversity. Take a look at his wonderful art work if your time permits. His Myrtle Beach businesses of the past, will give you another interesting article.

  3. Erika Hoffman says:

    I found his comment on Andy not being the friendliest man but a great actor interesting because I knew Aunt Bee and she was not the friendliest woman either! LOL But a great actress!

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