Born in Galt, Ontario (now Cambridge, Ontario), he played with the Saint John St. Peters. It is a misconception that Getliffe nicknamed Rocket. It was Harold Atkins, Sports Editor of the Montreal Star, who in his column compared Richard’s swiftness from the blue line in to the German V2 rockets that had just fallen over London.
At the time of his death he was believed to be the oldest living former Montreal Canadiens player. Getliffe’s name is on the Stanley Cup twice, for 1939 with Boston and 1944 with Montreal. On February 6, 1943 while playing for the Canadiens he scored five goals in one game.
Retired from hockey, Getliffe and his wife Lorna remained in Montreal until moving to London, Ontario in 1990, where he grew up.
Getliffe died in London of liver cancer at age 94. At the time of his death, reports claimed that he was the oldest living NHL alumnus, at about four months older than ex-New York Ranger and Chicago Blackhawk Clint Smith.
These reports, however, overlooked players who had only played a certain number of games, such as Louis Holmes and Al Suomi.