Rory Calhoun was an American actor who made a name for himself over several decades as a hero in B-Western. Over the course of his illustrious career, he starred in more than 80 films and 1,000 episodes on television. The story of his rise to fame is anything but ordinary, and this is one of the reasons why he was loved by the general public. Rory went from a life of crime to one of Hollywood’s most popular faces after he met Alan Ladd, another popular American actor who died in January 1964. It is said that the former attracted the attention of the latter; although Rory only rode his horse in a Los Angeles park, Alan saw a star.
The actor appeared in numerous films and television episodes over the years. His most famous works include roles in The Texan, Capitol, Miraculous Journey, Adventure Island, With a Song in My Heart, Flight to Hong Kong, Gilligan’s Island, How to Marry a Millionaire, Pure Country, and Red Sundown. Rory has also enjoyed a flourishing career as a producer and screenwriter.
Rory Calhoun – Biography
If you check the records, you will find that this actor’s name was not Rory Calhoun after his birth on August 8, 1922, but Francis Timothy McCown. His birthplace was in Los Angeles, California, and he was born as the son of Elizabeth Cuthbert and the Irish professional actor James McCown. His father died when he was barely 10 months old and his mother remarried. As he grew up, Rory sometimes referred to himself as Frank Durgin and took his stepfather’s name.
As a young boy, he had a turbulent childhood and frequent run-ins with the law. He stole, robbed, and committed all kinds of petty crimes. When he was 13 years old, he was arrested for stealing a revolver, and the judge sent him to the Preston School of Industry Reformatory, from which he later escaped. He continued his illegal activities and extended his crimes to robbing jewelry stores and wiring cars. When he was 17 years old, he decided to free himself from the abusive nature of his stepfather, so he stole a car and drove it across the state border. This was a serious offense, and he was sentenced to three years in prison for it.
The distraught young man was released on probation shortly before his 21st birthday. This time he took various odd jobs, such as mechanic, miner, cowboy, lumberjack, forest firefighter, truck driver, and crane driver. Luck was on his side when Alan Ladd noticed him riding a horse one day in January 1944. The actor then introduced him to his wife Sue Carol, who worked as an agent, and she prepared him for a screen test with 20th Century Fox. This led to Rory being cast in a number of small and often unappreciated roles in films such as Something for the Boys, The Bullfighters, Where Do We Go From Here, Sunday Dinner for a Soldier, and The Great John L.
Later, Alan Ladd and his wife Sue gave a party where they introduced him to an agent who worked for David O. Selznick’s company Vanguard. He signed a contract with the company and his name was changed from Francis McCown to Rory Calhoun. The young actor was sent back to prison after beating a detective in 1945. After his release, he continued his contract with Vanguard, performed publicly with well-known stars, and did screen tests from time to time.
Although he did not appear in any of Vanguard’s productions, he was hired a year later to play a small role in The Red House, then the lead in Adventure Island, Sand, and That Hagen Girl. In 1949 he was again loaned to the Warner Brothers and starred in their films Return of the Borderman and County Fair. Rory then signed with 20th Century Fox, for whom he played in Ticket to Tomahawk, I’d Climb the Highest Mountain, Rogue River, and With a Song in My Heart.
By this time, Rory was already a familiar face in the western film genre. He then starred in The Silver Whip, Powder River, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return. The actor brought his talent to Universal, where he starred in Four Guns to the Border, Ain’t Misbehavin, The Marauders, The Spoilers, Raw Edge, and Shotgun.
As a producer, Rory Calhoun can point to a number of films including Flight to Hong Kong, Domino Kid, Utah Blaine, Ride Out for Revenge, The Hired Gun, Apache Territory, and The Big Caper. Rory is also known for his role as Bill Longley in the television series The Texan. His other television contributions include Zane Grey Theatre, Bonanza, Death Valley Days, and Capitol. His last role was in 1992 when he played Ernest Tucker in Pure Country.
Rory was a legendary actor, and his private life was also the stuff of legends. He married Lita Baron in 1948 and they had a daughter, but the marriage lasted until 1970 because his wife filed for divorce and cited his adulterous relationships with 79 women, including Betty Grable, as a reason for ending the marriage.
When asked about these affairs, Rory replied that she did not mention even half of them. He started dating the actress Vitina Marcus, with whom he also had a daughter. Later, in 1982, the actor married Sue Rhodes, a journalist. The couple had a daughter together.
Facts About the American Actor
1. Rory Calhoun joined the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. He received two stars for his contributions to television and film.
2. He was a registered member of the Republican Party.
3. Rory was a close friend of Guy Madison, and the couple took regular hunting and fishing trips.
4. The cult movie star died on April 28, 1999, at the age of 76. Causes of death were diabetes and emphysema.