Jock Mahoney

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Jock Mahoney
Born Jacques O'Mahoney
(1919-02-07)February 7, 1919
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died December 15, 1989(1989-12-15) (aged 70)
Bremerton, Washington, U.S.
Cause of death Stroke
Resting place Cremation
Alma mater University of Iowa
Occupation Actor and stuntman
Years active 1946–1985
Spouse(s) Lorraine O'Donnell (?–?)
Margaret Field (1952–1968)
Autumn Russell (1969–1989, his death)
Children Kathleen O'Mahoney
Jim O'Mahoney
Princess O'Mahoney
Sally Field (stepdaughter)
Rick Field (stepson)
Carl Botefuhr (stepson)
Angela Russell (stepdaughter)
Andrea von Botefuhr (stepdaughter).

Jock Mahoney (February 7, 1919 – December 15, 1989) was an American actor and stuntman of Irish, French, and Cherokee ancestry.

Born Jacques Joseph O'Mahoney, he was credited variously as Jock Mahoney, Jack O'Mahoney or Jock O'Mahoney. He starred in two western television series, The Range Rider and Yancy Derringer. He played Tarzan in two feature films and was associated in various capacities with several other Tarzan productions.

He was a stepfather of the actress Sally Field, scientist Richard Field, Dr. Carl Botefuhr, artist Angela Russell and author and artist Andrea von Botefuhr.

Early life, education and military service[edit]

Mahoney was born in Chicago, Illinois, but reared in Davenport, Iowa.

He entered the University of Iowa in Iowa City but dropped out to enlist in the United States Marine Corps when World War II began. He served as both a pilot, flight instructor and war correspondent.


After his discharge from the Marine Corps he moved to Los Angeles, California, and for a time was a horse breeder. However, he soon became a movie stuntman doubling for Gregory Peck, Errol Flynn and John Wayne. Director Vincent Sherman recalled staging the climactic fight scene in his 1948 film Adventures of Don Juan and could find only one stuntman who was willing to leap from a high staircase in the scene. That man was Mahoney, who demanded and received $1,000 for the dangerous stunt.

Most of Mahoney's films of the late 1940s and early 1950s were produced by Columbia Pictures. Like many a Columbia contract player, Mahoney worked in the studio's two-reel comedies. Beginning in 1947, writer-director Edward Bernds cast Mahoney in slapstick comedies starring The Three Stooges. Mahoney had large speaking roles in these films, and often played his scenes for laughs. In the Western satire Punchy Cowpunchers (1950), Mahoney, striking a heroic pose, would suddenly get clumsy, tripping over something or taking sprawling pratfalls. Beginning in 1950, Columbia management noticed Mahoney's acting skills and gave him starring roles in adventure serials. He was originally billed as Jacques O'Mahoney, then Jock O'Mahoney.

He succeeded stuntman Ted Mapes as the double for Charles Starrett in Columbia's Durango Kid western series. The Durango Kid often wore a mask covering much of his face, which enabled Mahoney to replace Starrett in the action scenes. Mahoney's daring stunts made it seem that the older Starrett grew, the more athletic he became. Mahoney contributed so much to this series that he was awarded featured billing and major supporting roles as well, first as villains and then as sympathetic characters. By 1952 Columbia was billing him as Jack Mahoney.

When Charles Starrett's contract ran out in the spring of 1952, Columbia decided to replace him with Mahoney, opposite Starrett's sidekick Smiley Burnette. The first film was completed but never released; Columbia abandoned the series in June 1952, bringing an end to its long history of B-Western production.

Cowboy star Gene Autry, then working at Columbia, hired Mahoney to star in a television series. Autry's Flying A Productions filmed 79 half-hour episodes of the syndicated The Range Rider from 1951 to 1953. In 1959 there was a lost episode shown six years after the series ended. He was billed as Jack Mahoney. The character had no name other than Range Rider. His series co-star was Dick Jones, playing the role of Dick West.

In the 1958 western film Money, Women and Guns, Mahoney played the starring role. The film also starred Kim Hunter.

For the 1958 television season, he starred in the semi-western Yancy Derringer series for 34 episodes, which aired on CBS. Yancy Derringer was a gentleman adventurer living in New Orleans, Louisiana, after the American Civil War. He had a Pawnee Indian companion named Pahoo Katchewa ('pa-who-kaht'-chee-wah') ("Wolf Who Stands in Water") who did not speak, played by X Brands. Pahoo had saved the life of Derringer, and thereafter was responsible for Derringer's life.

Jock O'Mahoney starred in 64 feature films.

Tarzan films and television series[edit]

In 1948, Mahoney auditioned to play Tarzan after the departure of Johnny Weissmuller, but the role went to Lex Barker.

In 1960, he appeared as Coy Banton, a villain in Tarzan the Magnificent, starring Gordon Scott. His strong presence, work ethic, and lean (6 foot 4 inch, 220 pound) frame impressed producer Sy Weintraub who wanted a "new look" for the fabled apeman.

In 1962, Mahoney became the thirteenth actor to portray Tarzan when he appeared in Tarzan Goes to India, shot on location in India. A year later, he again played the role in Tarzan's Three Challenges, shot in Thailand. When this film was released, Mahoney, at 44, became the oldest actor to play the jungle king, a record that still stands. Dysentery and dengue fever plagued Mahoney during the shoot in the Thai jungles, and he plummeted to 175 pounds. It took him a year and a half to regain his health.

Owing to his health problems and the fact that producer Weintraub had decided to go for a "younger look" for the apeman, his contract was mutually dissolved.

Mahoney made three appearances on the Ron Ely Tarzan series--The Ultimate Weapon (1966), The Deadly Silence (1966) (a two-part episode, later edited into a feature film) and Mask of Rona (1967).

Television guest roles[edit]

In 1960, Mahoney guest starred in the Rawhide episode "Incident of the Sharpshooter." He also appeared in television guest-starring roles on such series as Batman, the Ron Ely Tarzan series, Hawaii Five-O, Laramie, and The Streets of San Francisco.

In 1973, he suffered a stroke while filming an episode of Kung Fu, but recovered.

Later career and death[edit]

In 1981, Mahoney returned to the Tarzan film series as the stunt coordinator on the John Derek-directed remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man. He was billed as "Jack O'Mahoney". He also made guest appearances on the television series B. J. and the Bear and The Fall Guy.

During the final years of his life Mahoney was a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows. He died of another stroke two days after being involved in an automobile accident in Bremerton, Washington. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.


A tribute to Mahoney entitled "Coming Home" is found on the Internet site of the late marksman Joe Bowman of Houston, a close Mahoney friend. On February 6, 1990, the poem was read at a memorial tribute to Mahoney held at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, California. More than 350 attended, included Bowman. The reading was conducted by Mahoney's widow, Autumn O'Mahoney.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Mahoney was married three times, first to Lorraine O'Donnell, with whom he had two children, Kathleen O'Mahoney and Jim O'Mahoney. He next married actress Margaret Field on December 11, 1959, in Las Vegas. They had one child, Princess O'Mahoney, born in 1962. Margaret Field already had two children, Richard Field and Sally Field. Mahoney and Field divorced in June 1968. The following year, he married actress Autumn Russell, who had three children, Carl Botefuhr, Angela Russell and Andrea von Botefuhr. They remained together until his death.

Along with his successes in the film industry, Mahoney was a down-to-earth person. He visited Steven Deutch's drama class at Madison High School in San Diego in 1975 and shared his experiences with the aspiring young actors there.

Sally Field, Burt Reynolds and Brian Keith starred in the 1978 film Hooper, which was based on Jocko's life. His daughter Princess O'Mahoney later became a television and film assistant director.

Select filmography[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jock Mahoney". Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  • Essoe, Gabe (1968). Tarzan of The Movies – A Pictorial History of More Than Fifty Years of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Legendary Hero. New York City: Citadel Press. ISBN 978-0-806-50295-3.

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Gordon Scott
Actors to portray Tarzan
Succeeded by
Mike Henry