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Jock Mahoney (February 7, 1919 — December 14, 1989) was an Americanmarker actor and stuntman, who was of French, Irish and Cherokee descent. Born Jacques O'Mahoney, sometimes he was credited as Jack Mahoney, Jock O'Mahomey, Jack O'Mahoney or Jock O'Mahoney. He is perhaps best known for associations with Tarzan films in various capacities, including playing Tarzan in two movies.

Early life and career

Born in Chicagomarker and raised in Davenport, Iowamarker, Mahoney attended the University of Iowamarker, but left in 1941 to join the United States Marine Corps, where he was a pilot and flying instructor. Following the end of World War II, Mahoney moved to Los Angelesmarker and was a horsebreeder for a short period. He then became a movie stuntman, doubling for actors such as Gregory Peck, Errol Flynn and John Wayne. Director Vincent Sherman, in his autobiography, recalled staging a scene for the 1949 film Adventures of Don Juan, and found there was only one stuntman in Hollywood daring enough to leap from a high staircase during a fight scene. "Jocko" demanded and received $1000 for the stunt.

In the late 1940s Mahoney (billed as Jacques O'Mahoney) appeared in several features, shorts, and serials for Columbia Pictures. He succeeded stuntman Ted Mapes as the athletic double for Charles Starrett in the "Durango Kid" western series. Starrett often wore a mask in the films, allowing Mahoney to step in for the action scenes. Mahoney's reckless feats made it appear that the older Starrett grew, the more athletic he became.

Stuntman and actor

Like many Columbia contract players, Mahoney also worked in the studio's two-reel comedies. Beginning in 1947 writer-director Edward Bernds cast Mahoney in slapstick comedies starring The Three Stooges. Mahoney had large speaking roles in these films, and often played his scenes for laughs. Striking a dauntless, heroic pose, Mahoney would suddenly get clumsy, tripping over something or taking sprawling pratfalls. Columbia management noticed Mahoney's acting skills and gave him starring roles in adventure serials, beginning in 1950.

Cowboy star Gene Autry, then working at Columbia, hired Mahoney to star in a television series. Autry's Flying A Productions filmed seventy-nine half-hour episodes of The Range Rider from 1951 to 1953 and 1959 (a lost episode shown six years after the series ended). He was billed as Jack Mahoney. The character had no name other than Range Rider. His series co-star was Dick Jones, playing the role of Dick West

For the 1958 television season, he starred in the popular cult western Yancy Derringer series for thirty-four episodes. Yancy Derringer was a gentleman adventurer living in New Orleansmarker, Louisianamarker, after the Civil War with a Pawnee Indian sidekick named Pahoo ('pa-who') who did not speak, played by X Brands.

Tarzan films

In 1948, Mahoney auditioned to play Tarzan after the departure of Johnny Weissmuller, but the role went to Lex Barker.

In 1960, he appeared as Coy Banton, a villain in Tarzan the Magnificent, starring Gordon Scott. His strong presence, work ethic, and lean (6 foot 4 inch, 220 pound) frame impressed producer Sy Weintraub who wanted a "new look" for the fabled apeman.

In 1962, Mahoney became the thirteenth actor to portray Tarzan when he appeared in Tarzan Goes to India. A year later he again played the role in Tarzan's Three Challenges. When this film was released, Mahoney, at 44, became the oldest actor to play the jungle king, a record that still stands. Dysentery and dengue fever plagued Mahoney on the shoot, and he plummeted to 175 pounds. It took him a year and a half to regain his health.

Owing to his health problems and the fact that producer Weintraub had decided to go for a "younger look" for the apeman, his contract was mutually dissolved.

Television guest roles

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he appeared in television guest-starring roles on shows such as Batman, the Ron Ely Tarzan series (again playing a villain), Hawaii 5-0, Laramie, and The Streets of San Francisco. In 1973, he suffered a stroke while filming an episode of Kung Fu, but recovered, though he sometimes had to use a wheelchair thereafter.

Personal life

Mahoney was married three times, first to Lorraine O'Donnell, with whom he had two children, then to actress Margaret Field, and finally, from 1967 until his death, to Autumn Russell. As Margaret Field's husband, he was stepfather to her two children, Richard Field and Sally Field. He and Margaret Field also had one daughter together, television and film assistant director Princess O'Mahoney. Mahoney and Sally Field appeared together in the 1978 film The End. The character of Jocko (played by Brian Keith) in Hooper is a tribute to him.

Later career and life

In 1981, Mahoney returned to the Tarzan film series as the stunt coordinator on the John Derek directed remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man. He was billed as "Jack O'Mahoney." He also made guest appearances on the television shows B.J. and the Bear and The Fall Guy.

During the final years of his life Mahoney was a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows. He died of a stroke two days after being in an automobile accident in Bremertonmarker, Washingtonmarker.

A tribute to Mahoney entitled "Coming Home" is found on the Internet site of the late marksman Joe Bowman of Houstonmarker, a close Mahoney friend. On February 6, 1990, the poem was read at a memorial tribute to Mahoney held at the Sportmen's Lodge in Studio Citymarker, California. More than 350 attended, included Bowman. The reading was conducted by Mahoney's widow, Autumn Mahoney.

See also


Essoe, Gabe. Tarzan of The Movies, 1968. Published by The Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-0295-9

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