Forrest Tucker

Last updated
Forrest Tucker
Forrest Tucker Music Man 1962.JPG
Tucker in the title role of The Music Man (stage musical)
Born
Forrest Meredith Tucker

(1919-02-12)February 12, 1919
DiedOctober 25, 1986(1986-10-25) (aged 67)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California
OccupationActor
Years active1933–1986
Spouse(s)
Sandra Jolley
(m. 1940;div. 1950)

Marilyn Johnson
(m. 1951;died 1960)

Marilyn Fisk
(m. 1961;div. 1985)

Sheila Forbes
(m. 1986)
Children3

Forrest Meredith Tucker (February 12, 1919 – October 25, 1986) was an American actor in both movies and television who appeared in nearly a hundred films. [1] Tucker worked as a vaudeville straight man at the age of fifteen. A mentor provided funds and contacts for a trip to California, where party hostess Cobina Wright persuaded guest Wesley Ruggles to give Tucker a screen test because of Tucker's photogenic good looks, thick wavy hair and height of six feet, five inches. Tucker was a sight reader who needed only one take and his film career started well despite a perception in most Hollywood studios that blond men were not photogenic. He enlisted in the Army during World War II. After twenty years spent mainly in Westerns and action roles, he returned to his roots, showing versatility as a comedic and stage musical actor. In the television series F Troop , he became identified with the character of Cavalry Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke (a manipulative character quite similar to Phil Silvers' role as MSgt. Ernie Bilko). Tucker struggled with a drinking problem that began to affect his performances in the later years of his career. [2]

Contents

Early life and education

Tucker described himself as a farm boy. He was born in Plainfield, Indiana, on February 12, 1919, a son of Forrest A. Tucker and his wife, Doris Heringlake. [1] His mother has been described as an alcoholic. [3] Tucker began his performing career at age 14 at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, pushing the big wicker tourist chairs by day and singing "Throw Money" at night. After his family moved to Washington, D.C., Tucker attracted the attention of Jimmy Lake, the owner of the Old Gaiety Burlesque Theater, by winning its Saturday night amateur contest on consecutive weeks. After his second win, Tucker was hired there at full time as Master of Ceremonies, but left when it was soon discovered that he was underage. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., in 1938, and, joining the United States Cavalry, was stationed at Fort Myer in Arlington County, Virginia, but discharged for, once again, being underage. He returned to work at the Old Gaiety after his 18th birthday.

Career

Hollywood

When Lake's theatre closed for the summer in 1939, Tucker was helped by a wealthy mentor to travel to California and try to break into film acting. He made a successful screen test, and began auditioning for movie roles. In his own estimation, Tucker was in the mold of large "ugly guys" such as Wallace Beery, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen, rather than a matinee idol. [4] His debut was as a powerfully built farmer who clashes with the hero in The Westerner (1940), which starred Gary Cooper. Tucker stood out in a fight scene with Cooper. Tucker had a support role in The Great Awakening (1941) for United Artists. Overcoming a feeling in Hollywood that fair hair did not photograph well, he quickly attained leading man status, starring in PRC's Emergency Landing (1941). He signed a contract with Columbia Pictures.

Columbia Pictures

At Columbia Tucker had a support role in one of their Lone Wolf pictures, Counter-Espionage (1942), followed by a Boston Blackie entry, Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942). He was borrowed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for Keeper of the Flame with Tracy and Hepburn. [5]

World War II

Like many other movie actors at the time, Tucker enlisted in the United States Army during World War II; he earned a commission as a second lieutenant.

Post War

Tucker resumed his acting career at war's end. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer borrowed him for the classic film The Yearling (1946). Warners borrowed him to play Errol Flynn's love rival with Eleanor Parker in Never Say Goodbye the same year. [6]

Back at Columbia Pictures, he was in Coroner Creek (1948) with Randolph Scott.

Republic Pictures

In 1948, Tucker left Columbia and signed with Republic Pictures. His first films for them were Hellfire (1949) and The Last Bandit (1949) with Wild Bill Elliott. He made Montana Belle for Republic with Jane Russell; it was sold to RKO.

Tucker had a role in Republic's Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), as PFC Thomas, a Marine with a score to settle with John Wayne's Sergeant Stryker. He went back to Columbia to support Scott again in The Nevadan (1950).

Tucker was promoted to star roles with California Passage (1950). He followed this with Rock Island Trail (1950).

Tucker was back to supporting actor for Hoodlum Empire (1952) then over at Paramount he co-starred with Sterling Hayden in Flaming Feather (1952) and supported Charlton Heston in Pony Express (1953).

Tucker went to England in support of British film star Margaret Lockwood in Laughing Anne (1953), a co-production with Republic.

Back in the United States, he went back to work for Republic: San Antone (1953) with Rod Cameron; Flight Nurse (1953) and Jubilee Trail (1954) with Joan Leslie.

England and Crunch and Des

He returned to England to make another with Lockwood, Trouble in the Glen (1954), and stayed on to make Break in the Circle (1955) for Hammer Films.

Tucker made some films for Allied Artists, Paris Follies of 1956 (1955) and Finger Man (1955) in support of Frank Lovejoy, and then supported Randolph Scott once more in Rage at Dawn (1956).

Tucker had a two-year stint on television playing the well-received role of a charter-boat captain in Bermuda in the series Crunch and Des from 1955 to 1956 with Sandy Kenyon.

He was top billed in Fox's The Quiet Gun (1957) and supported Charlton Heston in Three Violent People (1957). Hammer Films in Britain asked him back to play the lead in The Abominable Snowman (1957). He stayed on in England for The Strange World of Planet X (1957), and The Trollenberg Terror (1958).

Auntie Mame

The year 1958 brought another turning point in his career, when he won the role of Beauregard Burnside, Mame's first husband in Auntie Mame , the highest grossing U.S. film of the year. Tucker showed a flair for light comedy under the direction of Morton DaCosta that had largely been unexplored in his roles in Westerns and science fiction films. [7]

He supported Joel McCrea in Fort Massacre (1958) and had the lead in Counterplot (1959).

Stage

Tucker was cast as Professor Harold Hill in the national touring production of The Music Man in 1958 and played the role 2,008 times over the next five years, including a 56-week run at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago. [1] [8]

Following his Music Man run, Tucker starred in the Broadway production of Fair Game for Lovers (1964).

Television and F Troop

In 1961, Tucker appeared on NBC in Audie Murphy's short-lived western series Whispering Smith . Tucker played the outlaw Bob Dalton in the 1963 episode "Three Minutes to Eternity" of the syndicated Western series, Death Valley Days , a dramatization of the simultaneous bank robberies by the Dalton gang in Coffeyville, Kansas. [9] Tucker appeared in CBS's Appointment with Adventure in the 1956 series finale titled "Two Falls for Satan"; and ABC's Channing , a drama about college life that aired during the 1963–64 season.

Tucker turned to television for his most famous role, starring as frontier capitalist Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke in F Troop (1965–67). Though F Troop lasted only two seasons on ABC, the series has been in constant syndication since, reaching three generations of viewers. (Two of his Gunsmoke episodes feature Tucker in his cavalry uniform again, as the unconventional Sergeant Holly (1970), who in one scene "marries" and spends a hectic night with Miss Kitty.)

Later career

After the close of F Troop, Tucker returned to films in character roles like The Night They Raided Minsky's (1969), Barquero (1970), Chisum (1970), Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (1972), and Cancel My Reservation (1972). He had the lead in The Wild McCullochs (1975), and was a supporting actor in the television movie A Real American Hero (1978).

On television, Tucker was a frequent guest star, including a total of six appearances on Gunsmoke and the recurring role of Jarvis Castleberry, Flo's estranged father on the 1976-1985 TV series, Alice and its spinoff, Flo .

Tucker was a regular on three series after F Troop : Dusty's Trail (1973) with Bob Denver; The Ghost Busters (1975) which reunited him with F Troop co-star Larry Storch; guest star on The Bionic Woman as J.T. Conners and Filthy Rich playing the second Big Guy Beck. (1982–83). He continued to be active on stage as well, starring in the national productions of Plaza Suite , Show Boat and That Championship Season .

Tucker returned to the big screen, after an absence of several years, in the Cannon Films action film Thunder Run (1986), playing the hero, trucker Charlie Morrison. His final film appearance was Outtakes, a low-budget imitation of The Groove Tube .

Personal life

Tucker married four times:

  1. Sandra Jolley (1919–1986) in 1940, divorced in 1950, daughter of the character actor I. Stanford Jolley (who also died of emphysema) and the sister of the Academy Award-winning art director Stan Jolley. They had a daughter, Pamela "Brooke" Tucker. [10]
  2. Marilyn Johnson on March 28, 1950 (died of a heart ailment on July 19, 1960 at the age of 37). [11]
  3. Marilyn Fisk on October 23, 1961. They had a daughter, Cindy Tucker, and son, Forrest Sean Tucker.
  4. Sheila Forbes on April 15, 1986.

Tucker was a Republican. [12]

Death

Tucker, who had battled lung cancer for more than a year, as well as having a series of minor illnesses, collapsed and was hospitalized, for the second time in a week, on his way to the ceremony for his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 21, 1986. [4] [13] He died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital on October 25, 1986, a few months after the theatrical release of Thunder Run and Outtakes. [1] He was interred in Forest Lawn–Hollywood Hills Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills. [4] [14]

Selected filmography

Television

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Drake (actor)</span> American actor

Charles Drake was an American actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Jaeckel</span> American actor (1926–1997)

Richard Hanley Jaeckel was an American actor of film and television. Jaeckel became a well-known character actor in his career, which spanned six decades. He received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role in the 1971 adaptation of Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Milburn Stone</span> American actor (1904–1980)

Hugh Milburn Stone was an American actor, best known for his role as "Doc" on the CBS Western series Gunsmoke.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rory Calhoun</span> American actor (1922–1999)

Rory Calhoun was an American film and television actor. He starred in numerous Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared in supporting roles in films such as How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marie Windsor</span> American actress (1919–2000)

Marie Windsor was an American actress known for her femme fatale characters in the classic film noir features Force of Evil, The Narrow Margin and The Killing. Windsor's height created problems for her in scenes with all but the tallest actors. She was the female lead in so many B movies that she became dubbed the "Queen" of the genre.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steve Forrest (actor)</span> American actor (1925–2013)

Steve Forrest was an American actor who was well known for his role as Lt. Hondo Harrelson in the hit television series S.W.A.T. which was broadcast on ABC from 1975 to 1976. He was also known for his performance in Mommie Dearest (1981).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stephen McNally</span> American actor (1911–1994)

Stephen McNally was an American actor remembered mostly for his appearances in many Westerns and action films. He often played hard-hearted characters, criminals, bullies, and other villains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barton MacLane</span> Actor, playwright, screenwriter (1902–1969)

Barton MacLane was an American actor, playwright, and screenwriter. He appeared in many classic films from the 1930s through the 1960s, including his role as General Martin Peterson on the 1960s NBC television comedy series I Dream of Jeannie, with Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jay C. Flippen</span> American actor

Jay C. Flippen was an American character actor who often played crusty sergeants, police officers or weary criminals in many films of the 1940s and 1950s. Before his motion-picture career he was a leading vaudeville comedian and master of ceremonies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scott Brady</span> American actor

Scott Brady was an American film and television actor best known for his roles in western films and as a ubiquitous television presence. He played the title role in the television series Shotgun Slade (1959-1961).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gene Evans</span> American actor (1922–1998)

Eugene Barton Evans was an American actor who appeared in numerous television series, television films, and feature films between 1947 and 1989.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wayne Morris</span> American actor and World War II flying ace (1914–1959)

Wayne Morris was an American film and television actor, as well as a decorated World War II fighter ace. He appeared in many films, including Paths of Glory (1957), The Bushwackers (1952), and the title role of Kid Galahad (1937).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Doucette</span> American actor (1921–1994)

John Arthur Doucette was an American character actor who performed in more than 280 film and television productions between 1941 and 1987. A man of stocky build who possessed a deep, rich voice, he proved equally adept at portraying characters in Shakespearean plays, Westerns, and modern crime dramas. He is perhaps best remembered, however, for his villainous roles as a movie and television "tough guy".

Henry Rowland was an American film and television actor. He is remembered for his role as Count Kolinko in the Zorro television series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Pickard (American actor)</span> American actor (1913–1993)

John M. Pickard was an American actor who appeared primarily in television westerns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barney Phillips</span> American actor (1913–1982)

Bernard Philip Ofner, better known by his stage name Barney Phillips, was an American film, television, and radio actor. His most prominent roles include that of Sgt. Ed Jacobs on the 1950s Dragnet television series, appearances in the 1960s on The Twilight Zone, in which he played a Venusian living under cover on Earth in "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?", and a supporting role as actor Fletcher Huff in the short-lived 1970s CBS series, The Betty White Show.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Forrest Taylor</span> American actor (1883-1965)

Edwin Forrest Taylor was an American character actor whose artistic career spanned six different decades, from silents through talkies to the advent of color films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter Whitney</span> American actor (1916–1972)

Peter Whitney was an American actor in film and television. Tall and heavyset, he played brutish villains in many Hollywood films in the 1940s and 1950s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Douglas Kennedy (actor)</span> American actor (1915–1973)

Douglas Richards Kennedy was an American supporting actor originally from New York City who appeared in more than 190 films between 1935 and 1973.

Robert Osterloh was an American actor. His career spanned 20 years, appearing in films such as The Dark Past (1948), The Wild One (1953), I Bury the Living (1958) and Young Dillinger (1965).

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Hudson, Edward (October 27, 1986). "Forrest Tucker, 67, Is Dead. Film, TV, and Stage Veteran". The New York Times .
  2. Thomas 2011, p. 172.
  3. Thomas, Nick (October 14, 2011). Raised by the Stars: Interviews with 29 Children of Hollywood Actors. McFarland. p. 168. ISBN   978-0786488070.
  4. 1 2 3 Kendall, John (October 27, 1986). "Forrest Tucker, Stage, TV and Film Star, Dies". Los Angeles Times .
  5. Fertig, Mark (February 16, 2012). "Just Shy of Respect: The Hollywood Life and Death of Alan Ladd". Noir City. 6 (2). Retrieved April 3, 2020 via Where Danger Lives.
  6. "Fox to Star Boyer in Gambling Film: 'Any Number Can Play' to Be Based on Novel by Heth-- 'John L.' Held Over Here" . The New York Times. August 7, 1945. p. A17.
  7. The Milwaukee Sentinel - July 2, 1963.[ full citation needed ]
  8. "The Music Man – National Tour 1958". Ovrtur.com. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  9. 1 2 "Three Minutes to Eternity on Death Valley Days". IMDb . Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  10. Williams, Kimberly (November 5, 2003). "Emily Mae Jolley". Variety . Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  11. "Obituaries". Variety. July 27, 1960. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  12. Critchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. Cambridge University Press. p. 191. ISBN   978-0521199186 via Google Books.
  13. "Actor Forrest Tucker Dies at 67". The Washington Post . October 27, 1986. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  14. Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3d ed.). McFarland. p. 760. ISBN   978-1476625997 via Google Books.