Jeff Chandler (actor)
Chandler in 1958
December 15, 1918
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 17, 1961
Culver City, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Surgical complications|
|Resting place||Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, Culver City|
|Spouse(s)||Marjorie Hoshelle (m. 1946–54)|
Jeff Chandler (born Ira Grossel; December 15, 1918 – June 17, 1961) was an American actor and singer best remembered for playing Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950), and for being one of Universal International's most popular male stars of the decade. He was notable for being gray-haired at an early age.
Chandler was born Ira Grossel to a Jewish family in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, the only child of Anna (née Herman) and Phillip Grossel. He was raised by his mother after his parents separated when he was a child.
He attended Erasmus Hall High School, the alma mater of many stage and film personalities. His father was connected with the restaurant business and got his son a job as a restaurant cashier. Chandler said he always wanted to act, but courses for commercial art were cheaper, so he studied art for a year and worked as a layout artist for a mail order catalogue.
Chandler eventually saved up enough money to take a drama course at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York. He worked briefly in radio, then got a job in a stock company on Long Island as an actor and stage manager. He worked for two years in stock companies, acting in a performance of The Trojan Horse with Gordon MacRae and his wife.
After being discharged from the Army, Chandler moved to Los Angeles with $3,000 he had saved and soon found work as a radio actor. He appeared in episodes of anthology drama series such as Escape and Academy Award Theater, and became well known for playing the lead in Michael Shayne and bashful biology teacher Phillip Boynton on Our Miss Brooks. Chandler was the first actor to portray Chad Remington in Frontier Town. In 1945 he was involved in a serious car accident on the way to a screen test which resulted in a large scar on his forehead.
His performance as Boynton in Our Miss Brooks brought him to the attention of executives at Universal, who were looking for someone to play an Israeli leader in Sword in the Desert (1948). Chandler was cast and impressed the studio so much he ended up being signed to Universal for a seven-year contract.
Chandler's first movie for Universal under his new contract was Abandoned (1949), then he was borrowed by 20th Century Fox to play Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950). This film was a considerable hit, earning Chandler an Oscar nomination and establishing him as a star. He later reprised the role as the legendary Apache chief in The Battle at Apache Pass (1952) and in a cameo in Taza, Son of Cochise (1954). He was the first actor nominated for an Academy Award for portraying an American Indian.
Chandler's success in Broken Arrow led to him being cast as a variety of nationalities from different historical periods, such as an Arab chief in Flame of Araby (1951) and a Polynesian in Bird of Paradise (1951). He also played an embittered Union cavalryman in Two Flags West (1950). In 1952 exhibitors voted him the 22nd most popular star in the US and he signed a fresh contract with Universal.
20th Century-Fox was keen to use Chandler again and put forward roles in such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Lydia Bailey, Les Misérables and The Secret of Convict Lake. However, Universal had an exclusive contract and they kept him working at the studio.
In 1955 Chandler announced he had formed his own production company, Earlmar, wiith his agent, Meyer Miskin.
During the latter part of the decade and into the early 1960s, Chandler became a top leading man. His sex appeal, prematurely gray hair, and ruggedly handsome tanned features put him into drama and costume movies. Among the movies of this period are Female on the Beach (1955), Foxfire (1955), Away All Boats (1956), Toy Tiger (1956), Drango (1957), The Tattered Dress (1957), Man in the Shadow (1957), A Stranger in My Arms (1959), The Jayhawkers!" (1959), Thunder in the Sun (1959), and Return to Peyton Place (1961).
In 1957, Chandler left Universal and signed a contract with United Artists. Having long desired to be an executive he formed his own company, Earlmar Productions, with agent Meyer Mishkin. Together they produced the film Drango (1957), which Chandler also directed for a few weeks.
Chandler had a concurrent career as a singer and recording artist, releasing several albums and playing nightclubs. In 1955 he became only the second star to play at the Riviera, after Liberace was the featured headliner. In her autobiography Hold the Roses (2002), Rose Marie wrote that "Jeff Chandler was a great guy, but he was no singer. He put together an act and we opened at the Riviera. He came with a conductor, piano player, light man, press agent, and manager. None of it helped". And "Everybody raved about Jeff's singing, but let's face it: He really didn’t sing very well. He definitely had guts to open in Vegas". He left to work on a movie after three and a half weeks.
Chandler married actress Marjorie Hoshelle (1918–1989) in 1946. The couple had two daughters, Jamie Tucker (1947–2003) and Dana Grossel (1949–2002), before separating in 1954. They reconciled but his wife filed for divorce again in 1957.
When his friend Sammy Davis, Jr. lost an eye in an accident and was in danger of losing the other, Chandler offered to give Davis one of his own eyes. Chandler himself had nearly lost an eye and had been visibly scarred in an auto accident years earlier.
He was romantically linked with Esther Williams, who claimed in her 1999 autobiography Chandler was a cross dresser and she broke off the relationship. According to the Los Angeles Times, many friends and colleagues of Chandler's rejected Williams' claims. Jane Russell commented, "I've never heard of such a thing. Cross-dressing is the last thing I would expect of Jeff. He was a sweet guy, definitely all man."
Shortly after completing his role in Merrill's Marauders in 1961, Chandler injured his back while playing baseball with U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers who served as extras in the movie. He entered a Culver City hospital and had surgery for a spinal disc herniation, on May 13, 1961. There were severe complications; an artery was damaged and Chandler hemorrhaged. In a seven-and-a-half-hour emergency operation over-and-above the original surgery, he was given 55 pints of blood. Another operation followed, date unknown, where he received an additional 20 pints of blood. He died on June 17, 1961. His death was deemed malpractice and resulted in a large lawsuit and settlement for his children.
At the time of his death, Chandler was romantically involved with British actress Barbara Shelley. Tony Curtis and Gerald Mohr were among the pallbearers at Chandler's funeral. He was buried at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City.
Film historian David Shipman once wrote this analysis of Chandler:
Jeff Chandler looked as though he had been dreamed up by one of those artists who specialise in male physique studies or, a mite further up the artistic scale, he might have been plucked bodily from some modern mural on a biblical subject. For that he had the requisite Jewishness (of which he was very proud) – and he was not quite real. Above all, he was impossibly handsome. He would never have been lost in a crowd, with that big, square, sculpted 20th-century face and his prematurely grey wavy hair. If the movies had not found him the advertising agencies would have done – and in fact, whenever you saw a still of him you looked at his wrist-watch or pipe before realising that he wasn't promoting something. In the coloured stills and on posters his studio always showed his hair as blue, heightening the unreality. His real name was Ira Grossel and his film-name was exactly right.
An obituary of Chandler said
Known for his careful attention to detail in making pictures, Chandler was often described as introverted. But colleagues who worked with him closely said he had an easy, light-hearted approach on the set that helped ease some of the strain of production.
|1947||Johnny O'Clock||Turk||Uncredited (film debut)|
|1947||The Invisible Wall||Al Conway, henchman|
|1947||Roses Are Red||Knuckles|
|1948||Walk a Crooked Mile||Projector Operator||Uncredited|
|1949||Mr. Belvedere Goes to College||Police Officer #66||Uncredited|
|1949||Sword in the Desert||Kurta||Led to Chandler signing a long-term contract with Universal|
|1949||Abandoned||Chief MacRae||Alternative title: Abandoned Woman|
|1950||Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion||Narrator||Uncredited|
|1950||Broken Arrow||Cochise||Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor|
|1950||The Desert Hawk||Opening Off-Screen Narrator||Uncredited|
|1950||Two Flags West||Major Henry Kenniston|
|1951||Bird of Paradise||Tenga|
|1951||Smuggler's Island||Steve Kent|
|1951||Iron Man||Coke Mason|
|1951||Flame of Araby||Tamerlane||Alternative title: Flame of the Desert|
|1952||The Battle at Apache Pass||Cochise|
|1952||Red Ball Express||Lt. Chick Campbell|
|1952||Son of Ali Baba||Opening Narrator||Uncredited|
|1952||Yankee Buccaneer||Cmdr. David Porter|
|1952||Because of You||Steve Kimberly|
|1953||Girls in the Night||Off-Screen Narrator at Finish||Uncredited
Alternative title: Life After Dark
|1953||The Great Sioux Uprising||Jonathan Westgate|
|1953||East of Sumatra||Duke Mullane|
|1953||War Arrow||Major Howell Brady|
|1954||Taza, Son of Cochise||Cochise||Uncredited|
|1954||Yankee Pasha||Jason Starbuck|
|1954||Sign of the Pagan||Marcian|
|1955||Female on the Beach||Drummond Hall|
|1955||The Spoilers||Roy Glennister|
|1956||The Toy Tiger||Rick Todd|
|1956||Away All Boats||Captain Jebediah S. Hawks|
|1956||Pillars of the Sky||First Sergeant Emmett Bell||Alternative title: The Tomahawk and the Cross|
|1957||The Tattered Dress||James Gordon Blane|
|1957||Jeanne Eagels||Sal Satori|
|1957||Drango||Major Clint Drango||Also produced|
|1957||Man in the Shadow||Ben Sadler||Alternative titles: Pay the Devil
Seeds of Wrath
|1958||The Lady Takes a Flyer||Mike Dandridge||Alternative titles: A Game Called Love
Lion in the Sky
Wild and Wonderful
|1958||Raw Wind in Eden||Mark Moore/Scott Moorehouse|
|1959||A Stranger in My Arms||Major Pike Yarnell||Alternative title: And Ride a Tiger|
|1959||Thunder in the Sun||Lon Bennett|
|1959||Ten Seconds to Hell||Karl Wirtz||Alternative title: The Phoenix|
|1959||The Jayhawkers!||Luke Darcy|
|1960||A Story of David||King David||Alternative title: A Story of David: The Hunted|
|1960||The Plunderers||Sam Christy||Also producer|
|1961||Return to Peyton Place||Lewis Jackman|
|1962||Merrill's Marauders||Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill|
Select radio credits
- Michael Shayne 1948–1949
- Our Miss Brooks 1948–1955
- Frontier Town 1952–1953 (billed as "Tex Chandler")
- "Young Mr. Lincoln" – Academy Award Theatre (July 10, 1946)
- "Photo Finish" – Suspense (July 1946)
- "With Cradle and Clock" – Cavalcade of America (February 2, 1946)
- "Gregory Hood, Suspect" – The Casebook of Gregory Hood (September 30, 1946)
- "Blood On Sun" – Academy Award Theatre (October 16, 1946)
- "The Black Curtain" – Suspense (January 3, 1948)
- "Snake Doctor" – Escape (February 8, 1948)
- "Blond Mink", "Leopard's Spots", "Social Error", "Palm Beach Santa Claus" – Damon Runyon Theatre (1949)
- "Steel River Prison Break" – Suspense (September 3, 1951)
- "Ben Hur" - Hallmark Playhouse (April 10, 1952)
- "The Woodsman" – The Woodsman (July 20, 1952)
- "The Web" - Broadway Playhouse (July 1, 1953)
- "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" – Suspense (October 19, 1953)
- "A Good Neighbor" – Suspense (March 31, 1957)
- "I Should Care"
- "More Than Anyone"
|Year||Award||Category||Title of work||Result|
|1951||Academy Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Broken Arrow||Nominated|
|1958||Laurel Awards||Top Male Star||
|1959||Laurel Awards||Top Male Star||
Box office rankings
For a number of years, film exhibitors voted Chandler among the top stars at the box office.
- 1952 – 22nd (US)
- 1953 – 18th (US)
- 1954 – 16th (US)
- 1955 – 20th (US), 7th (UK)
- 1956 – 18th (US), 5th (UK)
- 1957 – 22nd (US), 6th (UK)
- Hoffmann, Henryk. "A" Western Filmmakers. McFarland & Co., 2000.
- Kirk, Marilyn. Jeff Chandler'. 1st Books Library/AuthorHouse, 2003.
- Marie, Rose. Hold the Roses. University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
- Wells, Jeff. Jeff Chandler: Film, Record, Radio, Television and Theater Performances. McFarland & Co., 2005.
- Williams, Esther. The Million Dollar Mermaid. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.
- Wells, Jeff (2005). Jeff Chandler: film, record, radio, television and theater performances. McFarland & Co. p. 5. ISBN 0-7864-2001-4.
- "Fame Has Its Fee For Jeff Chandler" by Richard L. Coe. The Washington Post and Washington Times Herald 31 Mar 1954: 22.
- "Big Chief!: As an Indian, Jeff Chandler caused countless feminine hearts to flutter; now, in straight dramatic roles, he's a box office smash". Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 9 November 1952: i9.
- 'Jeff Chandler Is Dead; Blame Blood Poison: Jeff Chandler', Los Angeles Times 18 June 1961: f1.
- David Shipman, The Great Movie Stars: The International Years, London:Macdonald, 1989, p.97
- Jeff Chandler overview at TCM
- Jeff Wells. Jeff Chandler: Film, Record, Radio, Television and Theater Performances. McFarland, 2005.
- "WELLMAN DIRECTOR OF 'BATTLEGROUND': METRO NAMES HIM TO HANDLE FILM OF BATTLE OF THE BULGE – CRAIG IN 'SIDE STREET'" by THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 25 Feb 1949: 28.
- Hedda Hopper, 'Jeff Chandler Man of Many Faces: He Can Play Any Kind Of Character Role, and is a Glamor Guy, Too', Chicago Daily Tribune 6 May 1951: c8.
- "Martin And Lewis Top U.S. Film Poll.". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 27 December 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "Film Unit Opposes Foreign Ventures: A.F.L. Council Opens Campaign to Halt Cheaper Production Abroad by U. S. Studios Special to The New York Times". New York Times 10 July 1952: 27.
- "Jeff Chandler Suspended at U-I" Los Angeles Times 21 May 1954: A6.
- Drama: Indie Setups Announced by Cummings, Chandler; Hello, Barry Fitzgerald Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Nov 1955: 41.
- "FAME ISN'T ENOUGH!: OUTSPOKEN STAR WOULD LIKE TO FORSAKE THE FILMS AND BECOME AN EXECUTIVE" Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 26 Dec 1954: e11.
- "Jeff Chandler.". The Australian Women's Weekly (National Library of Australia). 21 July 1954. p. 35. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Davis, Jr., Sammy: Yes I Can, The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr., New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (1965) ISBN 0-374-52268-5
- Lovell, Glenn (1999-10-27). "Esther Williams Is All Wet, Say Friends of the Late Jeff Chandler". latimes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
- Jeff Chandler Heirs Settle for $233,358 Los Angeles Times 21 Feb 1962: A1.
- Jeff Chandler at Find a Grave
- Kirby, Walter (April 6, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved May 16, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (June 28, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (October 18, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved July 6, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Martin And Lewis Top U.S. Film Poll.". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 27 December 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- 'Dirk Bogarde's favourite film actor', The Irish Times 29 December 1955: 9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jeff Chandler.|
- Jeff Chandler at the Internet Movie Database
- Jeff Chandler at the TCM Movie Database
- Jeff Chandler as Cochise in Broken Arrow (1951 radio version)