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Forrest Tucker (February 12, 1919 – October 25, 1986) was an American actor in both movie and television from the 1940s to the 1980s. Tucker, who stood and weighed , appeared in nearly 100 action films in the 1940s and 1950s.

Early life

Forrest Meredith Tucker was born in Plainfield, Indianamarker, a son of Forrest A. Tucker and his wife Doris Heringlake. He began his performing career at age 14 at the 1933 Chicago World's Fairmarker, pushing the big wicker tourist chairs by day and singing "Throw Money" at night. After his family moved to Washington, D.C.marker, Tucker attracted the attention of Jimmy Lake, the owner of the Old Gayety Burlesque Theater, by winning its Saturday night amateur contest on consecutive weeks. After his second win, Tucker was hired full time as master of ceremonies at the theatre. However, his initial employment there was short-lived; it was soon discovered that Tucker was underage.

Lying about his age, Tucker then joined the United States Army cavalry. He was stationed at Fort Myermarker in Virginia, but was discharged when his age became known. He returned to work at the Old Gayety after his 18th birthday.

Hollywood career

When Lake's theatre closed for the summer in 1939, Tucker travelled to Californiamarker and began auditioning for movie roles. He was cast as Wade Harper in The Westerner (1940), which starred Gary Cooper. He stood out in a fight scene with Cooper and was signed to Columbia Pictures.

In 1941, he played his first lead in Emergency Landing, and the following year he co-starred in the classic Keeper of the Flame.

Tucker enlisted again in the Army during World War II, earning a commission as a second lieutenant. He resumed his acting career at the war's end, appearing in the classic 1946 film The Yearling and stealing a few scenes from Errol Flynn in Never Say Goodbye the same year.

In 1948, Tucker left Columbia and signed with Republic Pictures. At Republic, he made his breakthrough in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), as Corporal Thomas, a Marine with a score to settle with John Wayne's Sergeant Stryker. Graduating to top billing, Tucker starred in numerous action films during the 1950s, including Rock Island Trail (1950), California Passage (1950), Rage at Dawn (1955, where he played Frank Reno),The Abominable Snowman (1957), The Quiet Gun (1957), and The Crawling Eye (1958).

The year 1958 brought another turning point in his career, when he won the role of Beauregard Burnside, Mame's first husband in Auntie Mame, the highest grossing U.S. film of the year. Tucker showed a flair for light comedy under the direction of Morton Da Costa that had largely been unexplored in his roles in westerns and science fiction films.

Stage and television star

Tucker was cast as "Professor" Harold Hillmarker by director Da Costa in the national production of The Music Man and played the role 2,008 times over the next five years, including a 56 week run at the legendary Shubert Theatre in Chicago. Following his Music Man run, Tucker starred in the Broadwaymarker production of Fair Game for Lovers (1964) and then turned to television for his most famous role, starring as frontier capitalist Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke in F Troop (1965 - 1967). Though F Troop lasted only two seasons on ABC, the series has been in constant syndication since, reaching three generations of viewers. (Ironically, two of his Gunsmoke episodes feature Tucker in his cavalry uniform again, as another comic sergeant who in one scene "marries" Miss Kitty.) He appeared in many television series, including ABC's Channing a drama about college life during the 1963-1964 season. In 1961, he appeared on NBC in Audie Murphy's short-lived western series Whispering Smith.

Following F Troop, Tucker returned to films in character parts (Barquero and Chisum, both 1970) and occasional leads (1975's The Wild McCullochs). On television, Tucker was a frequent guest star, including a total of six appearances on Gunsmoke and the recurring role of Jarvis Castleberry, Flo's estranged father on the 1976-1985 TV series, Alice and its spinoff, Flo. Tucker was a regular on three series after F Troop: Dusty's Trail (1973) with Bob Denver; The Ghost Busters (1975-76) which reunited him with F Troop co-star Larry Storch; and Filthy Rich playing the second Big Guy Beck. (1982-83). He continued to be active on stage as well, starring in the national productions of Plaza Suite, Show Boat, and That Championship Season.

Tucker suffered from severe alcoholism in his final years, but returned to the big screen after an absence of several years, in the Cannon Films action film Thunder Run (1986), playing the hero, trucker Charlie Morrison. His final film appearance was Outtakes, a low-budget imitation of The Groove Tube.

His feature film comeback unfortunately was short-lived. He died from lung cancer and emphysema on October 25, 1986, five months after the film's theatrical release. He was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemeterymarker in Los Angeles.

Tucker married three times, to Sandra Jolley (divorced), to Marilyn Johnson on March 28, 1950, and after her death in 1960 to Marilyn Fisk on October 23, 1961. He had a daughter (Pamela Tucker) by his second marriage, and a daughter (Cindy Tucker) and son (Forrest Sean Tucker) by his third.

Partial filmography



References

  1. http://movies.nytimes.com/person/72035/Forrest-Tucker/biography
  2. http://www.coastnet.com/~greywizard/rev210.htm
  3. Emily Mae Jolley - Entertainment News, Obituary, Media - Variety.


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