Jeffrey Hunter


  1. Robert  Wagner, Broken Lance, 1954.      Head Fox Darryl Zanuck wanted Hunter as Spencer Tracy’s half-breed son, Joe, in the Western. Then, Tracy caughtWagner in Beneath The 12-Mile Reefand declared: “This kid would be great.”Two years later, RJ was Tracy’s (30 years younger!) brother in The Mountain. Both run-o’-the-mill movies were helmed by Edward Dmytryk.
  2. Dan O’Herlihy,  The Virgin Queen, 1954.  Or Raleigh and the Virgin Queen  when Hunter  was in the  mix for Lord Derry in the court, but not the bed of   the first Queen Elizabeth. Fox boss Darryl F Zanuck was more keen in securing Bette Davis to reprise her Queen from 1939’s The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. “Mother was thrilled:” said her daughter BD Hyman. “She felt a great affinity for Queen Elizabeth, envied her her power and believed that she and the queen were very much of a kind.” As evidenced by her deftly removing Raleigh from the title.  

  3. Elvis Presely, Love Me Tender, 1956.
    The  black-white B Western, with Richard Egan, William Campbell, James Drury and Hunter (Cameron Mitchell or Robert Wagner) as Western siblings,  was transformed when Hall Wallis at Paramount agreed (for a hefty fee) that  Fox could take the first box-office gamble on his new contract star – as the youngest brother, whose almost blond hair was suddeny dyed pitch black for the tacked on finale of, what else, but the new  Love  Me Tender title song. Film and  disc went  through the  roof. Unfortunately, Presley’s film-ignorant manager, Colonel Tom Parker, immediately figured he knew  all about movies.  He knew scat and ruined his  superstar’s ambitions for an important film career by refusing Bus Stop, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Midnight Cowboy, West Side Story, etc for such  unholy crap as Speeedway, Stay Away Joe, Live A Little, Love A Little,  The Trouble With Girls.

  4. George Nader, Appointment With A Shadow (UK: The Big Story), 1957.    How old is the hero?  Who cares!  Paramount bought the Hugh Pentecost story with, apparently, William Holden, 39,  in mind.  But Universal made the movie after checking others in the H index: Van Heflin, 49, and Jeffrey Hunter, 31 – luckily catching hepatitis after one day. If that’s what it was. .Enter: Nader, at 36.
  5. Warren Beatty, The Roman Spring  of Mrs Stone, 1961.   On the scratch card for Vivien Leigh’s Rome gigolo, Paolo di Leo, in Tennessee Williams’ favourite movie of his work (his sole novel, in fact) were… the Roman looking Hunter, Frankie Avalon (!), John  Cassavetes, James Darren, Fabian, Ben Gazzara, George Hamilton, Jeffrey Hunter, and John  Saxon. Oh and Newley – more talented than all of them but hardly Italiano. 
  6. William Shatner, Star Trek, TV, 1966-1969.      Given a six month  contract, Hunter was the USS Enterprise skipper Christopher Pike in the 1964 pilot but wanted more money got a second pilot in 1965. Chief Trekkie Gene Roddenberry asked him to return for “one day or two of shooting an additional action opening which can result in a fast, tightly cut, exciting film release.” Supported by his wife Joan Bartlett, Hunter balked at that, too. Footage from the first pilot was later used  into a two-parter episode in the first season after Desilu and NBC (not Roddenberry) selected Shatner as the new captain, James Tiberius Kirk.
  7. Patrick Wayne,Cheyenne Autumn, 1964.  John Ford offered 2nd Lieutenant Scott to his 1955 Searchers star but Hunter was more keen on a TV Western  series, Temple Houston– axed after a single   season. (Better than his Star Trekcareer!). His replacement was John Wayne’s second son (who was also in The Searchers).
  8. Tab Hunter, The Christmas Kid, Spain-USA, 1967.     The two Hollywood Hunters, Jeffrey and Tab, found  themselves booked for films in Madrid.  Over dinner, the Lake Arrowhead water-ski-ing buddies  discussed  their drekky  assignments and decided to, quite simply, switch movies.  “What  the hell?” they agreed.  “The producers won’t know Jeffrey Hunter from Tab Hunter.” And so, Jeff made Tab’s Christmas Western and Tab made Jeff’s thriller (re-writing most of it “from a lacklustre thriller to a lacklustre comedy”), El Dedo del destino/The Cup of St Sebastian.  Or as it  was called, quite appropriately, in the US: The Fickle Finger of Fate.
  9. George Maharis, The Desperados, 1968.    Handsome Hunter had been in talks for David, the son of Parson Jack Palance no less,  as the head of a gang of plundering rapist.s Maharis won the role, Sylvia Syms as his wife,. And her son, Benjamin Edney, as their son.  Having already suffered on-set accidents during an Italian gangster movie, ¡Viva América!, Hunter had a second  cerebral hemorrhage at home, fractured his skull as he fell and died after surgery… at  42.


 Birth year: 1926Death year: 1969Other name: Casting Calls:  9