William Talman

  1. Melvin Lang, The Durango Kid, 1940.     Change of Marshal Trayboe in Charles Starrett’s first of 63 outings as  the masked hero – like 1938’s Lone Ranger, something of an Anglo Zorro!   (Except, Starrett was a different character behind the mask almost every time). Taggert made 172  films  during  1915-1944, including the first She (Indiana’s Valeska Suratt)  1916, and a 1940 Flash Gordon serial. Lang was less prolific: just five movies, from 1939 to his 1940 death.
  2. Brad Dexter, Macao, 1950.   Talman tested for crime boss Halloran – played by the Magnificent Seventh, Brad Dexter. Director Josef von Sternberg banned the crew from eating on-set, so Robert Mitchum turned up for work every morning with a basket of food for cast and crew – and smeared his portion on the Von’s lectern! He threatened to sack him, but he was the one dumped. When Nicholas Ray took over, he let Mitchum rewrite much of the script… unreleased by the testy Howard Hughes until 1952.
  3. Paul Kelly, Split Second, 1952.  For the first of his six films as director, Dick Powell lost Talman as one of two escaped cons holding hostages on  what proves to be an A-Bomb test site.  Kelly well suited the typically fine RKO film noir. (Powell helmed The Conqueror, 1978, at a real and  obviously still radioactive 1953 atomic bomb test site in Yucca Flat, Nevada, leading to terminal cancer for 90 of the 220 cast and crew, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Powell  himself).
  4. Raymond Burr, Perry Mason, TV, 1957-1966.    When the overweight Burr agreed to shed 60 lbs to be the LA DA Hamilton Burger, he was the perfect Mason.  Also in the mix for the defence attorney who rarely lost a case were Richard Carlson, Richard Egan, William Holden, William Hopper (he became Mason’s private eye, Paul Drake), Fred MacMurray, John Shelton, William Tallman (given Ham Burger (!), instead). “Wecouldn’t afford a big star,” explained producer Gail Patrick Jackson. No shows did in the 50s – they simply made big stars.

 Birth year: 1915Death year: 1968Other name: Casting Calls:  4