Rory Calhoun

  1. Victor Mature, Samson and Delilah, 1949.
    Here’s a review by Groucho Marx: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”   Cinemperor Cecil B DeMIlle first planned the epic in 1935 for Henry Wilcoxon and Miriam Hopkins.   Next in line, producer David O Selznick envisaged Kirk Douglas and Marlene Dietrich… By ’48, CB got serious. So did James Mason – suggesting $250,000. (DeMille showed him the door). He toyed with Roberts Mitchum, Ryan and Taylor; ruled out Lex Barker (he became a five-time Tarzan) and Burt Lancaster – too  inexperienced, a bad back and  “bad” politics. Other also-rans went from longtime CB acolyte John Bromfield, Jim Davis (future father of JR in Dallas),  Errol Flynn, William Hopper (Hedda’s son!), John Ireland, Glen Langan, Willard Parker… to the youngest new evangelist in town, Dr Billy Graham!.Plus Francis McCown, renamed Rory Calhoun by the “gay Svengali,” Henry Willson, an agent . “I always gave a green actor a trick name to help him get noticed… I named Guy Madison from Dolly Madison cakes.  Tab Hunter? I couldn’t think of anything to tab him with. John Smith? I just got tired.  For Roy Fitzgerald,  I wanted something strong and big. Rock of Gibraltar…  and the Hudson River.”  His greatest  find,  Rock Hudson! Finally, CB was telling 22-year-old Steve Reeves, to tone down his muscularity – while packing Mature off to the gym to beef up his!  PS. Humphrey Bogart’s gang made fun of Willson’s names and tried to out-do him.  Their best effort was…  Dung Heep. 
  2. Jay C Flippen, Jet Pilot, 1949.      Before Howard Hughes – hunting a jet age version of his 1929 Hell’s Angels – got his hands on Robert Hardy’s storyline, producer Paul Short was prepping it as a quickie for Audie Murphy, Calhoun and Rhonda Fleming.  Hughes’ version  (re-making his cherished Hell’s Angels, 1927) was anything but quick. Shooting began in October 1949 and he then tinkered with it for so long – close to eight years – that the innovative jets he filmed were obsolete when the picture was released…   in October 1957.
  3. Robert Wagner, Stars and Stripes Forever, 1952.     Or, The Life of John Philip Sousa. Clifton Webb gave up The Band Wagon to be the March King. Calhoun and June Haver were early choices for the film’s young lovers, ultimately Wagner and Debra Paget. Apparently, several Sousa musicians  fled the world premiere in disgust. Obviously, their first biopic.
  4. Yul Brynner, The Ten Commandments, 1954.
  5. Dale Robertson, Law of the Lawless, 1963.     Robertson’s phone rang at 11.30pm. “Hey,” said new producer AC Lyles, “Rory Calhoun in sick. Can you be on set sat 6am?” Sure and he headed the first of Lyles’ 13 el cheapo B Western programmers, all variations of the same story, shot in 10-14 days and providing work for pensionrs – hence the finales of William Bendix, Linda Darnell, Barton Maclane and director Lesley Sealander. Calhoun recovered in time for Lyles’ Young Fury, Black Spurs and Apache Uprising.
  6. Clint Eastwood, Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars, Italy-Spain-Germany, 1964.        
  7. Robert Conrad, The Wild Wild West, TV, 1966-1969.       First choice for the sagebrush 007: West, James T West. Until knocked out of the park by the tiny Conrad – 5’8″ without his 3inch heels. He lasted 104 episodes and never, according to CBS orders. with a female guest star over 5’6″ in what was first called, The Wild West West.
  8. Jean Ferch, Eve, Canada, 1989.     For some reason, the job of voicing Lucifer was offered to cowboys Calhoun, Chuck Connors and Clint Walker. They all stayed in their saddles.

Usual occupation: 1999Birth year: 1922Death year: 1999Other name: Casting Calls:  8