Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Godspeed Stuart Whitman

Stuart Whitman, who appeared in the movies The Comancheros (1961) and Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), and had regular roles on the TV shows Highway Patrol, Cimarron Strip, and Superboy, died yesterday at the age of 92.

Stuart Whitman was born on February 1 1928 in San Francisco. He was three years old when his family moved to Brooklyn, New York. His family moved to Hollywood, California at the start of World War II. After graduating from Hollywood High School, he served a three year stint in the United States Army Engineer Corps. Following his military service, he attended Los Angeles City College and later studied acting the Ben Bard Drama acting school.

It was while he was at Los Angeles City College that Mr. Whitman was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout. He made his film debut in a bit part in When Worlds Collide in 1951. After several uncredited roles he received his first on-screen credit with the movie The All American (1952). In the Fifties he appeared in such films as Rhapsody (1954), Silver Lode (1954), King of the Carnival (1955), 7 Men from Now (1956), Crime of Passion (1956), The Girl in Black Stockings (1956), Johnny Trouble (1957), Hell Bound (1957), Darby's Rangers (1958), Ten North Frederick (1958), China Doll (1958), The Decks Ran Red (1958), The Sound and the Fury (1959), These Thousand Hills (1959), Hound-Dog Man (1959), The Story of Ruth (1960), and Murder, Inc. (1960). He made his television debut in an episode of Boston Blackie in 1952. He had a regular role on the TV series Highway Patrol. He guest starred on such shows as The Ranger Rider, Lux Video Theatre, Four Star Playhouse, Cavalcade of America, Gunsmoke, Dr. Christian, Zane Grey Theatre, Alcoa Theatre, Goodyear Theatre, Trackdown, Have Gun--Will Travel, and Target.

In the Sixties Stuart Whitman played the lead role on the single-season Western television series Cimarron Strip. He guest starred on the TV shows Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre and Bracken's World. He appeared in the films The Mark (1961), The Fiercest Heart (1961), Francis of Assisi (1961), The Comancheros (1961), Convicts 4 (1962), The Longest Day (1962), Shock Treatment (1964), Rio Conchos (1964), Signpost to Murder (1964), Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes (1965), Sands of the Kalahari (1965), An American Dream (1966), Ternos Caçadores (1969), The Last Escape (1970), and The Invincible Six (1970).

In the Seventies Mr. Whitman appeared in the films Captain Apache (1971), Night of the Lepus (1972), Run, Cougar, Run (1972), Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974), Shatter (1974), Las Vegas Lady (1975), Crazy Mama (1975), Mean Johnny Barrows (1975), Una Magnum Special per Tony Saitta (1976), Eaten Alive (1976), Cuibul salamandrelor (1977), The Ransom (1977), The White Buffalo (1977), Ruby (1977), Run of the Roses (1977), La mujer de la tierra caliente (1978), Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979), Delta Fox (1979), The Treasure Seekers (1979), Cuba Crossing (1980), and Traficantes de pánico (1980).  He guest starred on such TV shows as Ghost Story; Night Gallery; The Streets of San Francisco; The F.B.I.; Love, American Style; Hec Ramsey; The Wonderful World of Disney; Police Story; Cannon; S.W.A.T.; Ellery Queen; Harry O; Quincy M.E.; The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries; and Fantasy Island. He appeared in the mini-series The Last Convertible and The Seekers.

In the Eighties Stuart Whitman had recurring roles on Knot's Landing and Superboy. He guest starred on Tales on the Unexpected; Knight Rider; The Master; Fantasy Island; Matt Houston; Cover Up; Finder of Lost Loves; Tales from the Darkside; Hunter; The A-Team; Simon & Simon; Hotel; J.J. Starbuck; and Murder, She Wrote. He appeared in the films Demonoid (1981), The Monster Club (1981), When I Am King (1981), Butterfly (1981), Horror Safari (1982), Vultures (1984), Treasure of the Amazon (1985), First Strike (1985), Deadly Intruder (1985), Bersaglio sull'autostrada (1988), Deadly Reactor (1989), Omega Cop (1990), The Colour of Evening (1990), and Smoothtalker (1990).

In the Nineties Mr. Whitman continued to appear on Superboy. He guest starred on the TV shows The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.; Walker, Texas Ranger; and Courthouse. He was a guest voice on the animated series Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and he appeared in the TV movie The President's Man. He appeared in the films  Sandman (1993), Lightning in a Bottle (1993), Trial by Jury (1994), Improper Conduct (1994), Land of Milk & Honey (1996), and Second Chances (1998).

While he was best known for Westerns and action roles, Stuart Whitman was a remarkable actor. It was with good reason he was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Mark. Over the years he played a wide variety of roles. Of course, he may always be best known as the roguish hero of The Comancheros and Marshal Jim Crown on the TV show Cimarron Strip, but he played everything from heroes to villains during his career. He was Jonathan Kent (the adopted father of Clark) on Superboy, the title hitman in the movie Shatter, a character obviously based on Jim Jones in Guyana: Crime of the Century, a singer forced to help mobsters in Murder Inc, a heroic pilot in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.., and many other roles. Stuart Whitman was certainly versatile. It should be little wonder he was so prolific.


KC said...

I'm always delighted when Stuart Whitman pops up in a film. He worked so much! A lot of bonkers movies in there too. Underrated talent.

Caftan Woman said...

I still don't understand why it took him the entire decade of the 1950s to start getting the bigger roles he deserved and could handle.