Dick Foran

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Dick Foran
Foran in Heart of the North (1938)
John Nicholas Foran

(1910-06-18)June 18, 1910
DiedAugust 10, 1979(1979-08-10) (aged 69)
Resting placeSan Fernando Mission Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other namesNick Foran
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Years active1934–1969
Ruth Piper Hollingsworth
(m. 1937; div. 1940)
(m. 1943; div. 1945)
Susanne Rosser
(m. 1951)

John Nicholas "Dick" Foran (June 18, 1910 – August 10, 1979) was an American actor and singer, known for his performances in Western musicals and for playing supporting roles in dramatic pictures. He appeared in dozens of movies of every type during his lengthy career, often with top stars leading the cast.

Early years[edit]

Foran was born in Flemington, New Jersey, the first of five sons to Arthur F. Foran and Elizabeth Foran. His father was a Republican member of the New Jersey Senate,[2] as was Dick Foran's younger brother, Walter E. Foran.

He attended Mercersburg Academy, where he competed on the track team under Scots-American athletics coach Jimmy Curran.[3] After graduation he attended the Hun School, a college preparatory school in nearby Princeton, and then enrolled at Princeton University, pursuing a degree in geology.[4] He played on the football team while taking courses in the arts, where he developed an interest in the theater.[2]

Foran studied music at the Leibling Studio in New York before singing on radio.[2] As Nick Foran, he went on to become a lead singer with a band[5] and later formed his own orchestra.


Four Daughters (1938)

Foran was still billed as Nick Foran when he signed a contract with Fox in 1934.[6] In 1935, Foran, who stood 6-foot-2 and had red hair, could also sing when called upon in films such as Change of Heart (1934) with Janet Gaynor. His handsome appearance and good-natured personality made him a natural choice for the supporting cast.

Fox didn't pick up Foran's contract option, and he was released after one year. He was soon signed by Warner Bros., which changed his name to Dick Foran and cast him as a singing cowboy, to compete with the successful Gene Autry musical westerns. His first starring role was in Moonlight on the Prairie (1935). His other singing-cowboy features included Song of the Saddle (1936), Guns of the Pecos (1937), and Empty Holsters (1937);[7] some of these were remakes of earlier Warner westerns starring John Wayne.

Foran also appeared as a character actor in Warners' important films, like The Petrified Forest (1936) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, The Sisters (1938) with Errol Flynn and Bette Davis, and Boy Meets Girl (1938) and The Fighting 69th (1940), both with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.

In 1940, Foran moved to Universal Studios, where he acted in many different genres of film from horror to comedy, such as My Little Chickadee (1940) with Mae West and W.C. Fields; Keep 'Em Flying (1941) and Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942), both with Abbott and Costello;[7] Private Buckaroo with Harry James, the Andrews Sisters, and Shemp Howard; and The Mummy's Hand (1940) with Tom Tyler as the Mummy. Foran reprised the same role in the sequel The Mummy's Tomb (1942), this time with Lon Chaney Jr. as the Mummy. He also starred in the studio's western serials Winners of the West (1940) and Riders of Death Valley (1941).

One of his last film roles was a small one in Donovan's Reef (1963), starring his longtime friend John Wayne and Lee Marvin. His final film appearance was as the prospector "Old Timer" in the sentimental film Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1967) with Joseph Cotten, Pat Conway, and Karl Swenson.


Foran left Universal in 1943 to star on Broadway in the Rodgers and Hart musical comedy A Connecticut Yankee, based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.[8]


In 1954, Foran guest-starred on NBC's Justice, a legal drama starring Dane Clark and Gary Merrill, on CBS's The Public Defender starring Reed Hadley and Hugh Beaumont, and on NBC's The Martha Raye Show, a comedy/variety show.

Foran appeared in at least four episodes of Science Fiction Theatre (1955). One of these, "The Miracle Hour", aired December 22, 1956. Foran appeared three times (1955–1956) as Father Brophy on the ABC anthology series Crossroads. He guest-starred in the syndicated crime drama Sheriff of Cochise starring John Bromfield. He also appeared as Burt, a carnival hustler, in 1957 on NBC's Father Knows Best with Robert Young.

Foran was prominently featured as a sheriff in the episode "The Third Rider" in the first season (1957) of the ABC/Warner Bros. Western series Maverick starring Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick, the brother of James Garner's character Bret Maverick. He also portrayed Tuck Degan in the 1957 episode "Final Payment" of another ABC/WB Western series, Colt .45 starring Wayde Preston.[citation needed]

In the January 1959 episode "The Spurs", he portrayed Sheriff Wilkes on Wanted Dead or Alive starring Steve McQueen. He made another guest appearance in the December 1960 episode: "The Choice", portraying aging bounty hunter Frank Koster. Also in 1959, Foran portrayed defendant Dr. David Craig on CBS's Perry Mason in the episode "The Case of the Bedeviled Doctor". Later that year, he played defendant Steve Benton in another Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Garrulous Gambler". He was also featured as Perry Mason's client in the 1961 episode "The Case of the Renegade Refugee". In 1959, Foran was cast as David Steele in the episode "The Adjuster" of the NBC crime drama series Richard Diamond, Private Detective, starring David Janssen. Dabbs Greer and DeForest Kelley also appeared in this episode.[citation needed]

In 1962, Foran appeared with Marie Windsor in the roles of Frank and Ann Jesse in the episode "The Wanted Man" of the ABC/WB Western series Lawman, starring John Russell as Marshal Dan Troop.[citation needed]

Foran later appeared as Gabriel Marion, brother of title character Francis Marion (Leslie Nielsen), in the Walt Disney Presents miniseries The Swamp Fox. In 1965–1966, he had his only regular role on a TV series playing "Slim" on O.K. Crackerby!. In 1968, Foran was cast in the role of "Fred Haines" in season one, episode 13, of the NBC television series Adam-12.


On August 10, 1979, Foran died aged 69 of respiratory ailments and pneumonia in Burbank, California. He was buried in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery.[9]


Foran has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television, at 1600 Vine Street. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[10]

Selected filmography[edit]

Selected television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1962 Death Valley Days Ferguson Episode "The Breaking Point"
1958 Have Gun - Will Travel Roy Calvert Episode "Young Gun"
1963 Death Valley Days Doc Hutchins Episode "Pioneer Doctor"
1963 Death Valley Days Bill Franklin Episode "The Holy Terror"
1964 Death Valley Days Bannerman Episode "See the Elephant and Hear the Owl"
1965 Death Valley Days Will Melville Episode "Kate Melville and the Law"
1959 Wanted Dead or Alive Sheriff D. Wilkes Episode "The Spurs"
1960 Wanted Dead or Alive Frank Koster Episode "The Choice"
1969 Mayberry RFD King Beaumont Episode "Palm Springs Cowboy"


  1. ^ "'Actor Dick Foran Married in East'". The San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, California. January 14, 1943. p. 2. Retrieved August 31, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b c Mayer, Geoff (2017). Encyclopedia of American Film Serials. McFarland. p. 127. ISBN 9780786477623. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  3. ^ Curran Watched Stars on Cinders First, St Petersburg Independent, April 24, 1960
  4. ^ "Dick Foran, N. J. Boy", Herald News, December 28, 1939. Accessed December 21, 2023, via Newspapers.com. "Dick was born John Nicholas Foran at Flemlngton, N. J. His father is State Senator Arthur Foran. He received his first schooling in Flemington, then attended Merrersberg Academy and Hun School to prepare for entrance into Princeton."
  5. ^ Varner, Paul (2009). The A to Z of Westerns in Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780810870512. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 246–247. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Phillips, Robert W. Singing Cowboy Stars. Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith, 1994. pp. 26–27.
  8. ^ "("Dick Foran" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on June 21, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  9. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 196. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  10. ^ "Dick Foran". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on June 21, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.

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