August 8, 1908
Mountain Home, Idaho, U.S.
|Died||July 25, 2005
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Other names||Ford Raney|
|Spouse(s)||Sheila Hayden (1954–2005, his death) 3 children|
Rainey was born in Mountain Home, Idaho, the son of Vyrna (née Kinkade), a teacher, and Archie Coleman Rainey. He first acted on the stage while in high school. Rainey graduated from Centralia Junior College in Washington state and the Cornish Drama School in Seattle. He then moved to Connecticut to study acting at the Michael Chekhov Theatre Studio. Growing up in the outdoors and learning to ride horses helped him in his career as a tough-guy film presence later in life. Like many young actors, he worked odd jobs including logger, fisherman, fruit picker, carpenter, clam digger and working on an oil tanker before becoming a successful actor. He worked as a radio actor as well as a touring stage actor before breaking into films. His Broadway debut was in a 1939 Chekhov production of The Possessed that had a run of 14 performances. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After the war he moved to Ojai, California, where he, Woodrow Chambliss and other actors who had studied under Chekhov founded the Ojai Valley Players.
Rainey made his film debut in White Heat in 1949 and became a familiar face in motion pictures, appearing in Perfect Strangers (1950), Two Rode Together (1961), 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962), Johnny Tiger (1966), and The Sand Pebbles (1966). His other film credits included The Gypsy Moths (1969), The Naked Zoo (1970), The Traveling Executioner (1970), My Old Man's Place (1971), Sixteen (1973), the horror films Halloween II (1981) and The Cellar (1989), Bed & Breakfast (1992), Inferno (1999). He also co-starred in the acclaimed television movie My Sweet Charlie (1970), and appeared in other TV movies such as A Howling in the Woods (1971) and The Stranger Who Looks Like Me (1974).
He guest-starred on many television series, including The Adventures of Kit Carson, Bonanza, The Invaders, The Brothers Brannagan (in the 1961 series finale "The Hunter and the Hunted"), The Tall Man, Stoney Burke, Daniel Boone, Gunsmoke, Empire, Dundee and the Culhane, Baa Baa Black Sheep (TV series), How the West was Won (aka The Macahans), The Untouchables, and the 1976 western Sara. The tall austere, authoritative-looking actor was a natural at playing leaders.
Between 1962-65 Rainey made four guest appearances on the CBS courtroom series Perry Mason, beginning with the role of Russell Durham in "The Case of the Unsuitable Uncle." In 1964 he played murder victim Harry Trilling in "The Case of the Ugly Duckling."
In the 1961-62 season he co-starred with Robert Young in the unsuccessful CBS series Window on Main Street, in which he portrayed newspaper editor Lloyd Ramsey. Tim Matheson, then a child actor, had a recurring role in the series, as did Constance Moore.
Rainey portrayed the adoptive father of Lee Majors' Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man), and the foster father of Jaime Sommers (The Bionic Woman) (credit pictured). He appeared in the 1987 miniseries Amerika.
Rainey played a general on CBS' M*A*S*H, and a judge on both The Waltons and Matlock. He played presidents on Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, and on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Later television appearances, in the 1990s and 2000s, include ER and recurring roles on Wiseguy, Ned and Stacey, and The King of Queens. He could also be seen in some commercials in the middle 1970s through the 1980s, such as REACH toothbrushes; a Johnson & Johnson product. During that time he was part of Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island.
Ford Rainey was a bachelor until the age of 46, when, in 1954, he married Sheila Hayden and settled in New York City, where sons Robert and James were born. The family moved to Malibu, California, where daughter Kathy was born.
Rainey remained in Malibu with his wife while he acted and enjoyed hobbies such as beekeeping and bird breeding until his death on July 25, 2005, of a stroke, at the age of 96. His interment was in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. James Rainey is a writer for the Los Angeles Times. Robert, a chiropractor, was the apparent victim of a robbery-murder in his office in Los Angeles. He was found by a patient on May 31, 2012. His murder remains unsolved with a $50,000 reward for solving the case.
- Myrna Oliver, "Ford Rainey, 96; Performed Shakespeare, Shepard and Variety of Film, TV Roles", Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2005.
- Ford Rainey Biography (1908-)
- Joel Rubin, "Slain L.A. chiropractor 'wanted to believe the best about the world'", Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2012.
- Schwartz, Gadi (27 November 2013). "New Images Released After Doctor Is Killed at Office". NBC Southern California. Retrieved 22 April 2014.