|Other names Smoke|
Height 1.91 m
Role Television actor
|Name Rory Calhoun|
Years active 1941–1993
|Full Name Francis Timothy McCown|
Born August 8, 1922 (1922-08-08) Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died April 28, 1999, Burbank, California, United States
Spouse Sue Rhodes (m. 1971–1999), Lita Baron (m. 1948–1970)
Children Athena Marcus Calhoun, Lorri Calhoun, Cindy Calhoun, Rory Patricia Calhoun, Tami Calhoun
Movies and TV shows River of No Return, The Texan, Motel Hell, How to Marry a Millionaire, Red Sundown
Similar People Lita Baron, Guy Madison, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Mitchum, Jean Negulesco
Rory Calhoun (August 8, 1922 – April 28, 1999) was an American film and television actor, screenwriter and producer. He was best known for starring in a large number of Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s, and for appearing in support parts in films such as How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).
- Rory calhoun
- Mary costa and rory calhoun sing a duet
- Early life
- Acting Career as Frank McCown
- David O Selznick
- 20th Century Fox
- The Texan
- Later Career
- Personal life
- In popular culture
Mary costa and rory calhoun sing a duet
Born Francis Timothy McCown in Los Angeles, California, Calhoun spent his early years in Santa Cruz, California. The son of a professional gambler, he was of Irish ancestry. He was only nine months old when his father died; Calhoun's mother remarried, and he occasionally went by Frank Durgin, using the last name of his stepfather.
At age thirteen, he stole a revolver, for which he was sent to the California Youth Authority's Preston School of Industry reformatory at Ione, California. He escaped while in the adjustment center (jail within the jail).
He left home at seventeen to escape beatings from his step father and began hot-wiring cars.
After robbing several jewelry stores, he stole a car and drove it across state lines. This made it a federal offense, and when he was recaptured, he was sentenced to three years in prison. He served his sentence at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He remained there until he was paroled shortly before his twenty-first birthday.
Acting Career as Frank McCown
Calhoun worked at a number of odd jobs, including a mechanic, a logger in California's redwoods, a hard-rock miner in Nevada, a cowboy in Arizona, a fisherman, a truck driver, a crane operator and a forest firefighter.
In January 1944, while riding horseback in the Hollywood Hills, he met actor Alan Ladd, whose wife, Sue Carol was an agent. She arranged for him to have a screen test at 20th Century Fox and got unbilled parts in Something for the Boys (1944), and Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944). He had a one-line role in a Laurel and Hardy comedy, The Bullfighters (1945), credited under the name Frank McCown.
He also appeared in Where Do We Go from Here? (1945), The Great John L. (1945) (as Gentleman Jim Corbett), and Nob Hill (1945).
"I liked the money it brought in," said Calhoun. "And I felt it would be nice to go back to forestry with a neat bank roll when these fellows found me out. I never had any feeling Id make good."
David O. Selznick
Shortly afterwards, the Ladds hosted a party attended by David O. Selznick employee Henry Willson, an agent known for his assortment of young, handsome and marginally talented actors to whom he gave new, unusual names. Willson signed McCown to a contract with Selznick's company Vanguard and his name was soon changed to "Rory Calhoun".
According to Calhoun, Selznick told him his first name should be "Rory... because you're a Leo, Leos are lions, and lions roar." Selznick suggested either Donahue, Calhoun or Callahan as a surname, and he picked Calhoun. (In another account of the story, Selznick named him "Rory" because he helped put out roaring fire blazes when a fire fighter and "Calhoun" because it sounded Irish.
In 1945 Calhoun was back in prison after punching a detective.
Calhoun was under contract to Selznick's company Vanguard, being used to do screen tests and make public appearances. His first public appearance in the film capital was as Lana Turner's escort to the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), a Selznick production. The glamorous blonde and her handsome companion attracted the paparazzi, and photos appeared in newspapers and fan magazines.
Calhoun did not appear in a film for a year before being loaned out The Red House (1947) with Edward G. Robinson. He was then loaned to Paramount to play the lead in a B movie Adventure Island (1947) with fellow Selznick contractee Rhonda Fleming.
Calhoun was announced for a film called Jet Pilot with Fleming, Guy Madison and other Selznick contract players but it was not made. Instead he was third lead in That Hagen Girl (1947) with Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan.
Sam Newfield who used Calhoun in Adventure Island cast him again in Miraculous Journey (1948). For Mongram he and Guy Madison were in Massacre River (1949). At Fox, Calhoun played a second lead in Sand (1949)
In February 1949 Selznick did a deal with Warners loaning them seven of his stars, including Calhoun - they took over half his pictures for the rest of his contract with Selznick. He played the villain in Return of the Frontiersman (1950) and was hero of Monogram's County Fair (1950).
In August 1950 Calhoun signed a seven year contract with 20th Century Fox. He had made no films for Selznick. "I didn't worry about it because it was like a long vacation without pay," he said later.
20th Century Fox
Calhoun signed a deal with 20th Century Fox. He was in A Ticket to Tomohawk (1950) and was second male lead in I'd Climb the Highest Mountain (1951) with Susan Hayward, and Meet Me After the Show (1951) with Betty Grable.
He went to Ventura to star in a Western Rogue River (1951).
He was promoted to co star for With a Song in My Heart (1952) with Hayward and Way of a Gaucho (1952) with Gene Tierney.
Calhoun was promoted to star in the Westerns The Silver Whip (1953) with Dale Robertson and Powder River (1953) with Corinne Calvert.
He was in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) as the love interest of Betty Grable, then was back to second male leads in River of No Return (1954) as the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe who loses her to Robert Mitchum. Both films were big hits.
Calhoun then left Fox.
Calhoun starred in a Western The Yellow Tomahawk (1954). He went to Columbia for A Bullet Is Waiting (1954)
Calhoun went to Universal for whom he made a Western, Four Guns to the Border (1954). He stayed there to star in the musical Ain't Misbehavin' (1955).
In 1955, Calhoun and Julie Adams co-starred in the film The Looters, the story of a plane crash in the Rocky Mountains. Part of the picture was filmed about Tarryall Creek in Park County in central Colorado. The advertising poster reads: "Five desperate men ... and a girl who didn't care ... trapped on a mountain of gale-lashed rock!"
He then co starred with Jeff Chandler in The Spoilers (1955). While filming The Spoilers Confidential magazine revealed Calhoun's past as a prisoner. When the news came out he received an offer to play "The Champion" on Climax! and RKO asked him to be in The Treasure of Pancho Villa (1955). Ultimately the disclosure had no negative effect on Calhoun's career and only served to solidify his "bad boy" image.
At Universal he was in Red Sundown (1956) and Raw Edge (1956).
He wrote the story for the film Shotgun (1955) made by Allied Artists and tried to star in it but Universal would not loan him out.
He also wrote novels such as The Man From Padera (1979) and Cerrado (1980).
In 1957, Calhoun formed Rorvic, a production company with his partner, Victor Orsatti. In late 1956 he arranged to pull out of his contract with Universal and said his fee was $75,000 a film.
He helped produce and starred in Flight to Hong Kong (1956), The Hired Gun (1957), Domino Kid (1957) and Apache Territory (1958).
He made Utah Blaine (1957) for Sam Katzman and The Big Caper (1957) for Pine Thomas. For Kirk Douglas' company he appeared in Ride Out for Revenge (1958) and he went back to Universal for The Saga of Hemp Brown (1958).
In 1958, on the recommendation of studio boss Desi Arnaz, Sr., Calhoun co-produced and starred in the CBS western television series The Texan, which aired on Monday evenings until 1960. He said in a 1959 article that the only two good films he made were With a Song in My Heart and How to Marry a Millionaire, the rest being "terrible".
While filming The Texan, Calhoun would continue to produce and write screenplays throughout his career. The Texan could have filmed a third year had Calhoun not desired to concentrate on films. On March 26, 1959, he appeared as himself in the episode "Rory Calhoun, The Texan" on the CBS sitcom December Bride, starring Spring Byington, a series then in its fifth and final season of production.
After The Texan ended, Calhoun starred in a stock car racing film Thunder in Carolina (1960). He appeared on TV shows such as Death Valley Days, Zane Grey Theater and Western Star Theater.
Calhoun went to Spain for The Colossus of Rhodes (1961) directed by Sergio Leone. (He was robbed during filming.) He did The Treasure of Monte Cristo (1961) in Britain then did Marco Polo (1962) in Italy.
He returned to the US to make The Young and The Brave (1963), Face in the Rain (1963), Young Fury (1965) and Apache Uprising (1965).
Calhoun was considered for the lead of James West in the 1965-1969 CBS series The Wild Wild West, but the producers were not impressed with his screen test and instead chose Robert Conrad.
He went to Europe to make Our Men in Bagdad (1966) and The Emerald of Artatama (1969).
Calhoun continued to appear in both television and film throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Thunder in Carolina, Rawhide, Gilligan's Island, Hawaii Five-O, Alias Smith and Jones and Starsky and Hutch.
In 1982, Calhoun had a regular role on the soap opera Capitol, having been persuaded to accept the role by his family after his regret over turning down a part on CBS's Dallas. He stayed with the series until 1987.
Calhoun became known to a new generation for several roles in cult films such as Night of the Lepus (1972), Motel Hell (1980), Angel (1984) and its sequel Avenging Angel (1985), as well as Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987).
His final role was that of grizzled family patriarch and rancher Ernest Tucker in the film Pure Country (1992).
Rory Calhoun died in Burbank, California, at the age of 76 from complications resulting from emphysema and diabetes.
Calhoun was married twice. He had five daughters, three with first wife Lita Baron (m. 1948-1970), Cindy, Tami and Lori, one with actress Vitina Marcus, and one with his second wife (m. 1971-1979; 1982-1999, his death), journalist Sue Rhodes.
When Lita Baron sued Calhoun for divorce, she named Betty Grable as one of 79 women with whom he had adulterous relationships. Calhoun replied to her charge, "Heck, she didn't even include half of them".
In 1966, Vitina Marcus filed a paternity suit against Calhoun. Both actors were married at the time. The suit was settled in Los Angeles Superior Court for an undisclosed sum.
Calhoun has two stars one on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one (at 7007 Hollywood Blvd.) for his contribution to film and a second star (at 1750 Vine Street) for his work in television.
In popular culture
Calhoun was referenced by Mr. Burns in the Season 6 episode of The Simpsons, "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds".