Rory Calhoun lived a life as an actor, screenwriter, and film producer. Many years after his death, his name is still alive on search engine result pages; there must be something about him. Aside from his acting credits, his personal life was colored with prison stints and a failed marriage. But these are not his legacies.
Here is everything you need to know about the actor here.
Rory Calhoun: Birth and early life
The birth name of Rory Calhoun was Francis Timothy McCown. He was born in Los Angeles, California, on 8 August 1922 to James McCown, an Irish professional gambler and Elizabeth Cuthbert. When he was 10 months old, his father died and his mother remarried.
Rory was raised in Santa Cruz California in the home of his stepfather who gave him hell. As a result of the way he was brought up, he started making a living from the street in the wrong way which includes robbing jewelry stores. By this time, he has adopted a street name for himself, Frank Durgin. Durgin being the last name of his stepfather
When he was 13 years of age, he stole a revolver and was sent to Preston School of Industry Reformatory, California where he would later escape from. He continued to follow the lifestyle of a wannabe gangster and started hot-wiring cars, robbing people of their belongings.
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In all of these, his stepfather was his biggest nightmare as he ran away from home seldom times after most of the robbery attempts. After he stole a car and drove it across state lines, he was recaptured and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Rory served his sentence at the United States Medical Centre for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. He was released from jail before his 21st birthday.
Rory landed several odd jobs to put food on his table after he left prison. He worked as a mechanic, wood logger, hard-rock miner, fisherman, a truck driver. Rory made it to the entertainment world from an unlikely place.
Rory Calhoun: Career
Some actors are born, some learn the art, while some are discovered on the back of a horse in Hollywood Hills. Rory encountered Alan Ladd the husband of Sue Carol, a Hollywood agent who gave him a shot in acting when he was just interested in riding on a horse in Hollywood. He underwent several screen tests at 20th Century Fox. His charming looks won him an uncredited role in the 1944 film “Something for the Boys”.
So began the career but he had to go undergo several rebirth processes starting from his name. In a party hosted by Alan Ladd and his beautiful wife Sue Carrol, David O. Selznick who is famous for representing young actors was in attendance. David introduced Rory to his boss Henry Willson and he was signed to the Vanguard.
Without baptisms, David told him that his name has been changed to Rory but gave him an option to choose Donahue, Callahan or Calhoun as his last name and Rory settled for Calhoun. Selznick would later state that he named his Rory because he was a Leo. And Leo’s are lions, they roar.
In 1945, Rory roared differently when he punched a detective and was sent back to prison. When he left prison, he was loaned out to various producers. At some point, he signed for 20th Century Fox but made no movie for them during the seven-year stint he stayed in their acting label. Something he humorously addressed as a vacation without pay.
In the 1950s, he appeared in many movies like the musical comedy film “A Ticket to Tomahawk”. The film also starred Marilyn Monroe. He also appeared in the film “The Silver Whip”. Rory made a large chunk of his acting credits in the 1960s in films which include “Death Valley Days” “Bonanza”, “Gunsmoke” and “Gilligan’s Island”. He also appeared in many ‘70s movies.
In the Television series, he appeared in “The Doris Day Show” “Owen Marshall: Counsellor at Law” “Police Story” and many others. He moved from actor to producer in the latter part of his career when he formed Rorvic Productions with his partner, Victor Orsatti.
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For the various roles he played in Hollywood and numerous acting contributions, he was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His motion picture star is can be found at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard and his television star is located at 1752 Vine Street.
In October 2021, Screen Rant featured one of his films in their Best Obscure Horror Movies from the 1980s. His movie that made the cut at number 8 was “Motel Hell”. In that film, Rory played the lead character named Farmer Vincent who is a butcher of animals and men. He would trap travelers and cut them into pieces.
Screen Rant analyzes thus, “Rory Calhoun and Nancy Parsons are both great as Farmer Vincent and his sister Ida, bringing lots of laughs to the movie, but there is also a lot of gore for those who look for that in their slasher movies.”
You can find and watch the “low-budget horror movie full of irony and wit” “Motel Hell” on Amazon Prime.
In his lifetime, he married two times. His first marriage was with Lita Baron. They had three daughters together. Lita filed for divorce many years later, accusing Rory of having extramarital affairs. She also fingered actress Betty Grable as one of the 70 women Rory allegedly slept with. 70 women. Rory shaded her claims by stating that her numbers weren’t correct. “Heck, she didn’t even include half of them,” he said derisively.
For his second marriage, he married journalist Sue Rhodes and they had one daughter. Rory also had one daughter with Vitina Marcus, a retired actress in Hollywood.
Cause of death (and net worth)
Rory Calhoun died of complications from emphysema and diabetes. He died at the age of 76 years at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California in April 1999.
His net worth was estimated to be around 12 million dollars at the time of his death.
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