Steve Cochran

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Steve Cochran
Steve Cochran in The Chase (1946).jpg
Cochran in The Chase (1946)
Robert Alexander Cochran

(1917-05-25)May 25, 1917
DiedJune 15, 1965(1965-06-15) (aged 48)
Off the coast of Guatemala
Alma mater University of Wyoming
Years active1944–1965
Florence Lockwood
(m. 1935;div. 1946)

(m. 1946;div. 1948)

Jonna Jensen
(m. 1961)
Relatives Alex Johns (grandson)

Steve Cochran (born Robert Alexander Cochran, May 25, 1917 – June 15, 1965) was an American film, television and stage actor. He attended the University of Wyoming. After a stint working as a cowboy, Cochran developed his acting skills in local theatre and gradually progressed to Broadway, film and television.


Early life and career

Cochran was born in Eureka, California, [2] but grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of a logger. While he appeared in high school plays, he spent more time delving into athletics, particularly basketball.

After stints as a cowpuncher and railroad station hand, he studied at the University of Wyoming, where he also played basketball. Impulsively, he quit college in 1937 and decided to go straight to Hollywood to become a star. [3]


Working as a carpenter and department store detective during his early adulthood, Cochran also gained experience appearing in summer stock. In the early 1940s he worked with the Shakespeare Festival in Carmel, California, where he played Orsino in Twelfth Night, Malcolm in Macbeth, Horatio in Hamlet and the title role in Richard III. [ citation needed ] He then performed in plays for the Federal Theatre Project in Detroit.

Cochran was rejected for military service in World War II because of a heart murmur, but he directed and performed in plays at a variety of Army camps. [4]

He was appearing with Constance Bennett in a touring production of Without Love in December 1943 when he was signed by Sam Goldwyn. [5]

On Broadway, Cochran appeared in Hickory Stick (1944). [6]


Sam Goldwyn

Samuel Goldwyn brought Cochran to Hollywood in 1945. [2] Goldwyn made only a few films a year, so he loaned Cochran to Columbia Pictures for Booked on Suspicion (1945), a Boston Blackie movie.

Goldwyn then put him in Wonder Man (1945), a Danny Kaye movie co-starring Virginia Mayo and Vera-Ellen in which Cochran played a gangster. Columbia then used him in another Boston Blackie film, Blackie's Rendezvous (1945), in which he played a villain, and in The Gay Senorita (1945) with Jinx Falkenburg.

Goldwyn then used Cochran in another Danny Kaye movie with Mayo and Vera-Ellen, The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). After United Artists borrowed him to play a gangster in The Chase (1946), Cochran appeared in the prestigious drama The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing a man who has an affair with a woman played by Virginia Mayo that continues even after her husband (played by Dana Andrews) returns from war. The movie was a huge critical and commercial success.

Cochran had a supporting role opposite Groucho Marx in Copacabana (1947) for United Artists. Goldwyn got him to play another gangster opposite Kaye and Mayo in A Song is Born (1948), directed by Howard Hawks.

He made his TV debut in "Dinner at Antoine's" for The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse (1949) and followed this with "Tin Can Skipper" for NBC Presents (1949).

He then returned to Broadway to support Mae West in a shortlived revival of her play Diamond Lil . This revived Hollywood's interest in him. [7]

Warner Bros.

In 1949 Cochran went over to Warner Bros., playing Big Ed Somers, a power-hungry henchman to James Cagney's psychotic mobster in White Heat (1949) opposite Virginia Mayo. Warner Bros. eventually took over Cochran's and Mayo's contracts from Goldwyn.

Cochran supported Joan Crawford in The Damned Don't Cry (1950), after which he was given his first lead role, in Highway 301 (1950), playing a gangster. He was a villain to Gary Cooper's hero in Dallas (1950) and played a Ku Klux Klan member in Storm Warning (1951) with Ginger Rogers and Doris Day.

Cochran was a villain in Canyon Pass (1951), a western, and then was given the lead in Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951), which inspired Johnny Cash to write his song "Folsom Prison Blues".[ citation needed ]

Warners gave him another lead in Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), a film noir with Ruth Roman that was originally intended for Burt Lancaster. [8]

He returned to supporting parts in Jim Thorpe – All-American (1951) with Burt Lancaster.

Warners starred him in The Tanks Are Coming (1951) and in a rare sympathetic role in The Lion and the Horse (1952). [9] He co-starred with Cornel Wilde in Operation Secret (1952) and supported Virginia Mayo in She's Back on Broadway (1953). In The Desert Song (1953), Cochran played Gordon Macrae's rival for Kathryn Grayson. [10] He then left Warners[ why? ].


Cochran starred in the low-budget action film Shark River (1953) for United Artists and was a villain in Back to God's Country (1953), which starred Rock Hudson, at Universal.

He returned to television, appearing in episodes of Lux Video Theatre ("Three Just Men" (1953)), and Studio One in Hollywood ("Letter of Love" (1953)). He reportedly made a film in Mexico called Embarcardero, which he co wrote, directed and starred in alongside Edward Norri. [11]

Cochran then went to Germany to make Carnival Story (1954) for the King Brothers. It was his first film in Europe. [12]

Back in Hollywood, he co-starred in Private Hell 36 (1954) with Ida Lupino for Don Siegel. His TV roles included "Foreign Affair" (1954) for Robert Montgomery Presents ; "The Role of a Lover" (1954) and "The Most Contagious Game" (1955) for Studio One; "Trip Around the Block" (1954) and "The Menace of Hasty Heights" (1956) for The Ford Television Theatre ; "The After House" (1954), "Fear is the Hunter" (1956), and "Bait for the Tiger" (1957) for Climax! ; and "The Seeds of Hate" (1955) for General Electric Theatre .

Republic Pictures hired him to play Ann Sheridan's love interest in Come Next Spring (1956). [13] Cochran then went to the UK to play the lead in The Weapon (1956).

Cochran supported Van Johnson in MGM's Slander (1957). He went to Italy to star in Il Grido (1957) for Michelangelo Antonioni alongside Alida Valli and Betsy Blair; filming took seven months. [14]

On television, he appeared in "Outlaw's Boots" (1957) for Schlitz Playhouse , "Debt of Gratitude" (1958) for Zane Grey Theater , "Strictly Personal" (1958) for The Loretta Young Show , and an episode of The Twilight Zone, “What You Need”, in 1959.

Cochran played the lead roles in Quantrill's Raiders (1958), an Allied Artists western, and in I Mobster (1959), a Roger Corman gangster film. Albert Zugsmith used him for the lead roles in The Beat Generation (1959) and The Big Operator (1959).

Later career

After 1959, Cochran worked mostly in television, guest-starring in series such as Bonanza (Season 6, episode 26, "The Trap", aired on March 28, 1965), The Untouchables , Route 66 , Bus Stop , Stoney Burke , The Naked City , Shirley Temple's Storybook , The Dick Powell Theatre , The Virginian , Route 66 , Death Valley Days , Mr. Broadway , and Burke's Law .

He had the lead in the TV movie The Renegade (1960) and was in Sam Peckinpah's debut feature, The Deadly Companions (1961). They had first worked together when Peckinpah was dialogue director on the film noir Private Hell 36 (1954).

Cochran was Merle Oberon's co star in Of Love and Desire (1963), shot in Mexico. He had the lead in Mozambique (1964) for Harry Alan Towers.


In 1953 Cochran formed his own production company, Robert Alexander Productions, which attempted to make some television series, [15] and films such as The Tom Mix Story (with Cochran as Mix), Hope is the Last Thing to Die, about the Mexican War, and Klondike Lou. [14] [16] None of these was ever produced, but his company did make a television pilot, Fremont the Trailblazer, in which he played John C. Frémont and co-starred with Barbara Wilson and James Gavin. [17] [18] Cochran also wrote, produced, directed and starred in Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965).

Personal life

Cochran was a notorious womanizer and attracted tabloid attention for his tumultuous private life, which included well-documented affairs with numerous starlets and actresses. Mamie Van Doren later wrote about their sex life in graphic detail in her tell-all autobiography Playing the Field: My Story (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1987). He was also married and divorced three times, to actress Fay McKenzie, Florence Lockwood and Jonna Jensen. He and Lockwood had one daughter, Xandra, [19] through whom he is the grandfather of film and television producer Alex Johns, who was a co-executive producer for more than seventy episodes of the animated television series Futurama . [20] In the 2002 documentary The Importance of Being Morrissey, Steven Morrissey claims that his parents named him after Steve Cochran.

In 1950 Cochran hired future screenwriter and actor Montgomery Pittman as a gardener at Cochran's Beverly Hills home. [21]

Cochran was in trouble with the police a number of times in his life, including a reported assault and a charge of reckless driving in 1953. [22] [23]


Cochran recruited three young women to accompany him on a sailing trip from Acapulco to Costa Rica, ostensibly to take part in an upcoming film. A few days into the trip, the yacht lost one of its two masts in a storm. Shortly thereafter, Cochran fell ill, and died two days later on June 15, 1965 at the age of 48, of what was later determined to be an acute lung infection. The women who were accompanying him did not know how to sail the boat, and were trapped with the decomposing body for ten days, before being rescued out at sea. The boat, still carrying his corpse, was later found drifting off the coast of Guatemala. [24] [25] [26] [27]

Cochran's widow was given half of his estate of $25,000. She shared it with his daughter by another marriage. [28]

Cochran was buried in Monterey, California. [29]


Cochran has a star at 1750 Hollywood Boulevard in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated February 8, 1960. [30]


1945 Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion Jack HigginsAlternative title: Booked on Suspicion
1945 Wonder Man Ten Grand Jackson
1945 Boston Blackie's Rendezvous Jimmy CookAlternative title: Blackie's Rendezvous
1945 The Gay Senorita Tomas Obrion aka Tim O'Brien
1946 The Kid from Brooklyn Speed McFarlane
1946 The Chase Eddie Roman
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives CliffAlternative titles: Glory for Me and Home Again
1947 Copacabana Steve Hunt
1948 A Song Is Born Tony CrowAlternative title: That's Life
1949 White Heat Big Ed Somers
1950 The Damned Don't Cry Nick Prenta
1950 Highway 301 George Legenza
1950 Dallas Bryant Marlow
1951 Storm Warning Hank Rice
1951 Raton Pass Cy Van CleaveAlternative title: Canyon Pass
1951 Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison Chuck Daniels
1951 Tomorrow Is Another Day Bill Clark / Mike Lewis
1951 Jim Thorpe – All-American Peter AllendineAlternative title: Man of Bronze
1951 The Tanks Are Coming Francis Aloysius 'Sully' Sullivan
1952 The Lion and the Horse Ben Kirby
1952 Operation Secret Marcel Brevoort
1953 She's Back on Broadway Rick Sommers
1953 The Desert Song Captain Claude Fontaine
1953 Shark River Dan Webley
1953 Back to God's Country Paul Blake
1954 Carnival Story Joe Hammond
1954 Private Hell 36 Cal Bruner
1956 Come Next Spring Matt Ballot
1956 The Weapon Mark Andrews
1957 Slander H.R. Manley
1957 Il Grido Aldo
1958 Quantrill's Raiders Capt. Alan Wescott
1959 I Mobster Joe Sante
1959 The Beat Generation Dave Culloran
1959 The Big Operator Bill GibsonAlternative title: Anatomy of the Syndicate
1961 The Deadly Companions Billy Keplinger
1963 Of Love and Desire Steve Corey
1965 Mozambique Brad Webster
1967 Tell Me in the Sunlight DaveFilmed in 1965; released posthumously (final film role)

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  9. Steve Cochran Star in Sympathetic Role Los Angeles Times 11 Aug 1951: A8.
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  12. Hedda Hopper, "Steve Cochran to Do First Film in Europe", Los Angeles Times 20 May 1953, p. 22.
  13. "Ann Sheridan, Steve Cochran Starring in Arkansas Story By John Beaufort", Christian Science Monitor, March 19, 1956: 7.
  14. 1 2 HOWARD THOMPSON (Oct 20, 1962). "PLANS DISCUSSED BY STEVE COCHRAN: Film Actor-Producer, Here on Visit, Talks of Future". New York Times. p. 13.
  15. Profile of Steve Cochran at Google Books
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  18. Clemens, Samuel. "Barbara Wilson", Classic Images . October 2022
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  29. Wilson, Scott (August 22, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 144. ISBN   9780786479924 via Google Books.
  30. "Steve Cochran". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.