Who was Jeff Chandler?
Jeff Chandler was an American actor, singer, and film producer best remembered for his portrayal of Cochise in the 1950 western film, ‘Broken Arrow,’ for which he was nominated for an Oscar. One of Universal Pictures’ most famous male stars of the 1950s, he also appeared in the films ‘Sword in the Desert’, ‘Deported’, ‘Female on the Beach’ and ‘A Story of David’. Born Ira Grossel in a Jewish family, Chandler was raised by his mother after his parents separated. He acted in plays while studying at Erasmus Hall High School. Following a drama course at Feagin School of Dramatic Art, he briefly worked in radio and then went on to serve in a stock company as a stage manager and actor. In addition to his acting, Chandler was also known for his musical recordings. On a personal note, he had a number of affairs—before, during, and after his marriage to Marjorie Hoshelle, with whom he fathered two children.
Childhood & Early Life
Jeff Chandler was born as Ira Grossel on December 15, 1918, in Brooklyn, New York, USA, to Phillip Grossel and Anna. His parents separated when he was a child.
He studied at Erasmus Hall High School where one of his schoolmates was Susan Hayward.
He worked as a restaurant cashier and studied art for a year. He then took up a job as a layout artist at $18 a week to save enough money to take a drama course.
Chandler eventually attended Feagin School of Dramatic Art. He initially worked in radio and then got employment in a stock agency as a stage manager and actor.
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Jeff Chandler launched his own company called the Shady Lane Playhouse in 1941. The company enjoyed some success with plays including ‘The Bad Man’ and ‘Seventh Heaven.’ During the World War II, Chandler enlisted in the army and served for four years, finishing with the rank of lieutenant.
He got his first job as a radio actor in May 1946. He received much fame for appearing as the lead in the radio series ‘Michael Shayne’. He then became the first actor to play Chad Remington in the radio adventure drama ‘Frontier Town’.
His first film role was a one-line role as a criminal in ‘Johnny O'Clock’ which released in 1947. The actor then went on to play minor roles as a policeman in the comedy film ‘Mr Belvedere Goes to College’ and gangsters in ‘The Invisible Wall’ and ‘Roses are Red’.
He garnered more attention with the role of Eve Arden's boyfriend in the radio show ‘Our Miss Brooks’ which debuted on radio in 1948 and became a massive hit.
Chandler was cast as a Israeli leader in Universal studio’s ‘Sword in the Desert’, the first American movie based on the first phase of the Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.
He featured in the noir adventure ‘Smuggler's Island’ (1948) as an adventurer, a role he liked as it was close to his personality. In the year 1951, he played a Polynesian leader in ‘Bird of Paradise’ and a boxer in ‘Iron Man.’ Chandler then made a war movie titled ‘Red Ball Express.’
He signed a new contract with Universal in 1952 and appeared in a western titled ‘The Great Sioux Uprising’. He then went on to work in the adventure flicks ‘War Arrow’ and ‘East of Sumatra.’ The actor then made the crime drama film ‘Female on the Beach’ and began releasing musical records.
He was given the lead role in one of the Universal’s most prestigious movies of the year, ‘Away All Boats.’ He then formed his own production agency named Earlmar. His first Earlmar production was a western titled ‘Drango.’
Following his appearance in the popular biopic ‘Jeanne Eagels’ with Kim Novak, the actor appeared in ‘Ten Seconds to Hell,’ which was for a brand new company, Seven Arts.
He then joined hands with Warner Bros to make his last film ‘Merrill's Marauders’ that was released posthumously in 1962.
In 1950, Jeff Chandler played Cochise in Delmer Daves’ western ‘Broken Arrow,’ which turned out to be a hit, earning the actor an Oscar nomination, eventually establishing him as a star.
Family & Personal Life
Jeff Chandler married Marjorie Hoshelle, an actress, in 1946. The couple had two daughters, Jamie Tucker and Dana Grosse.
In 1957, he became involved with actress Esther Williams, causing his wife to divorce him. Their divorce was granted in 1959.
The actor also had affairs with actresses Gloria De Haven and Ann Sheridan.
While shooting for ‘Merrill's Marauders’ in April 1961, he injured his back during a baseball match with the soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Forces, who served as extras in the movie. The following month, he had surgery for a spinal disc herniation and suffered severe complications, eventually dying on June 17, 1961, due to a blood infection.