Rory Calhoun Biography

Rory Calhoun was a well-known American film and TV actor. This biography profiles his childhood, family, personal life, career etc.

Rory Calhoun
Quick Facts

Birthday: August 8, 1922

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Died At Age: 76

Sun Sign: Leo

Also Known As: Francis Timothy McCown

Born in: Los Angeles, California, United States

Famous as: Actor

Height: 6'3" (190 cm), 6'3" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Lita Baron (1948–1970), Sue Rhodes (1971–1979; 1982–1999)

father: James McCown

mother: Elizabeth Cuthbert

Died on: April 28, 1999

U.S. State: California

City: Los Angeles

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Rory Calhoun was a well-known American film and TV actor. He started his career as an actor, but later donned many hats - screenwriter, producer, author etc. Rory’s life changed when a Hollywood agent, Sue Carol, got him an audition at the ‘20th Century-Fox’. He was noticed by Alan Ladd, husband of Sue, when Rory was riding a horse in a Los Angeles park, and informed Sue about the same. He appeared in over 80 films and more than a thousand television episodes of several shows. He appeared in movies like ‘Adventure Island’ (1947), ‘Miraculous Journey’ (1948), ‘Massacre River’ (1949), ‘Fair County’ (1950), ‘With a Song in My Heart’ (1952), ‘The Silver Whip’ (1953), ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ (1953), ‘Four Guns to the Border’ (1954), ‘The Looters’ (1955), ‘Red Sundown’ (1956), ‘Flight to Hong Kong’ (1956) and many more. Rory appeared in television shows including ‘Zane Grey Theatre’ (1956), ‘The Texan’ (1960), ‘Death Valley Days’ (1960), ‘Hawaii Five-O’ (1968), ‘Starsky and Hutch’ (1975), ‘Gilligan’s Island’ (1964) etc. His last movie ‘Pure Country’ was released in 1992.

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Rory Calhoun
Childhood & Early Life
  • Rory was born Francis Timothy McCown in Los Angeles, California, on 8 August, 1922. He was born to an Irish gambler, James McCown and Elizabeth Cuthbert.
  • Rory spent his early childhood in Santa Cruz, California. His father died within ten months of his birth, and his mother remarried after that.
  • He used the last name of his step-father, and came to known as Frank Durgin. His childhood was a troubled one, and as a result, he indulged into robbery, stealing and other such activities.
  • At the age of 13, he stole a revolver, and was sent to ‘Preston School of Industry’ reformatory, California. He escaped from this adjustment centre.
  • At the age of 17, he ran away from home to escape his step-father’s torture and beating, and started hot-wiring cars with occasional stealing and robbing jewellery stores and cars. He was also sent to the prison for three years, after he stole a car and drove it around the state.
  • He served his sentence at the ‘United States Medical Centre for Federal Prisoners’ in Springfield, Missouri. He was released from jail before his 21st birthday.
  • Thereafter, he did several jobs - a mechanic, wood logger, hard-rock miner, cowboy, fisherman, truck-driver etc, until he was spotted riding a horse by actor Alan Ladd in a Los Angeles park. His life changed for good after that.
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  • Sue Carol, a Hollywood agent, got Rory a screen test at the ‘20th Century-Fox’. He got really small roles in ‘Something for the Boys’ (1944), ‘Sunday Dinner for Soldiers’ (1944), ‘Laurel and Hardy’, until he got his first credited role (as Frank McCown) in ‘The Bullfighters (1945).
  • He was later signed by David O. Selznick’s employee, Henry Wilson, in Selznick’s company, his name to ‘Rory Calhoun’. However, in 1945, he was sent back to prison for hitting a detective.
  • In 1947, he had his first notable role in ‘The Red House’. He worked in two more movies, namely ‘Adventure Island’ and ‘That Hagen Girl’ in the same year.
  • In 1948, he worked in ‘Miraculous Journey’ which became a major hit. In 1949, he did two movies, ‘Massacre River’ and ‘Sand’.
  • He appeared in a negative role for the first time in ‘Return of Frontiersman’ (1950). He played the lead in ‘Country Fair’ in the same year.
  • Some of his other movies of the 1950s were ‘Meet Me After the Show’ (1951), ‘Rogue River’ (1951), ‘I’d Climb the Highest Mountain’ (1952), ‘With a Song in My Heart’ (1953), ‘The Silver Whip’ (1953), ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ (1953), etc. ‘River of No Return’ (1954), ‘The Yellow Tomahawk’ (1954), ‘A Bullet is Waiting’ (1954), ‘The Spoilers’ (1955), ‘Raw Edge’ (1956), ‘The Hired Gun’ (1957), ‘Ride Out of Revenge’ (1958) were other few movies.
  • In 1960, he starred in a number of movies, few of which were ‘Thunder in Carolina’ (1960), ‘The Colossus of Rhodes’ (1961), ‘The Treasure of Monte Cristo’ (1961), ‘Marco Polo’ (1962), ‘The Young and the Brave’ (1963), ‘Apache Rising’ (1965), ‘Our Men in Baghdad’ (1966), ‘The Emerald of Artatman’ (1969). Between the 70s and 80s, he starred in cult movies like ‘Night of the Lepus’ (1972), ‘ Motel Hell’ (1980), ‘Angel’ (1984), ‘Hell Comes to Frogtown’ (1989) etc.
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  • His last movie ‘Pure Country’ came in 1992. He played the character of ‘Earnest Tucker’- a family patriarch and rancher in the movie.
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Television Career
  • He made his television debut in ‘The Texan’ in 1958. Around this time, Rory had also started screenwriting and production.
  • In 1959, he appeared in an episode of CBS show ‘December Bride’. The episode was named ‘Rory Calhoun the Texan’.
  • In 1960s, he appeared in several shows like ‘Death Valley Days’ (1963), ‘Bonanza’ (1964), ‘Gunsmoke’ (1965), ‘I Spy’ (1966), ‘Gilligan’s Island’ (1967), ‘Custer’ (1969), ‘Lancer’ (1971) etc.
  • From 1970 to 1980, he became a part of TV shows like ‘The Doris Day Show’ (1972), ‘Owen Marshall: Counsellor at Law’ (1972), ‘Hec Ramsey’ (1973), ‘Police Story’ (1973), ‘Movin’ On’ (1975), ‘Starsky and Hutch’ (1975), ‘Fantasy Land’ (1978) etc. In the 80s, he appeared in ‘The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo’ (1981), ‘Hart to Hart’ (1982), ‘The Blue and the Gray’ (1985), ‘Family Feud’ (1985), ‘The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ (1988) and many other shows.
  • In 1982, he became a regular on the American soap opera ‘Capitol’ and remained in the show until it ended in 1987. His last show appearance came in ‘Tales from the Crypt’ in 1993.
Other Major Works
  • In 1957, Rory opened a production company called ‘Rorvic’ with his partner, Victor Orsatti. He helped in production of movies like ‘Flight to Hong Kong’ (1956), ‘The Hired Gun’ (1957), ‘Domino Kid’ (1957), Apache Territory’ (1958), ‘Fists of Steel’ (1991) etc.
  • He wrote a techni-color movie called ‘Shotgun’ (1955). In 1957, he wrote another movie called ‘Domino Kid’.
Awards & Achievements
  • Calhoun was inducted in ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ twice. One star is located at ‘7007 Hollywood Boulevard’, while the second one is located at ‘1750 Vine Street’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Rory was married twice - first with Lita Baron with whom he had three daughters, and second with journalist Sue Rhodes with whom he had one daughter.
  • At the time of divorce, he was accused by his first wife, Lita Baron, that he had committed adultery with more than 70 women, including Betty Grable.
  • Rory died at 76 in Burbank, California on April 28, 1999. He died as a result of complications from emphysema and diabetes.

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Last Updated
- January 08, 2018

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