John Agar

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John Agar
John Agar still.jpg
circa 1960
Born John George Agar, Jr.
(1921-01-31)January 31, 1921
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died April 7, 2002(2002-04-07) (aged 81)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Resting place Riverside National Cemetery
Occupation Actor
Years active 1948–2001
Spouse(s) Shirley Temple (m. 1945–1950; divorced); 1 daughter
Loretta Combs (m. 1951–2000; her death); 2 sons
Children Linda Susan Agar (Susan Black)
Martin Agar
John G. Agar III

John George Agar, Jr. (January 31, 1921 – April 7, 2002) was an American actor. He is best known for starring alongside John Wayne in the films Sands of Iwo Jima, Fort Apache, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. In his later career he was the star of B movies, such as Tarantula, The Mole People, The Brain from Planet Arous, Revenge of the Creature, Flesh and the Spur, and Hand of Death. He was the first husband of Shirley Temple.

Early life[edit]

Agar was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lillian (née Rogers) and John Agar, Sr., a meat packer.[1] He was educated at the Harvard School for Boys in Chicago and Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois. He graduated from Trinity-Pawling Preparatory School in Pawling, New York, but did not attend college. He and his family moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1942, after his father’s death.

During World War II he served in the United States Army Air Corps, mostly at the March Field in Riverside, California, serving as a physical fitness instructor. He was a sergeant at the time he left the AAF in 1946.[2]

Shirley Temple[edit]

Agar's sister was a schoolmate of Shirley Temple. In 1944 Agar escorted Temple to a party held by her boss at the time, David O. Selznick. The two fell in love and were married in 1945. Selznick signed Agar to a five-year acting contract starting at $150 a week, including acting lessons.[3]

Agar and Temple worked together in Fort Apache and Adventure in Baltimore. The first of these, where they supported John Wayne, was particularly successful. Agar later reunited with Wayne in two more hits, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Sands of Iwo Jima.[2]

Agar and Temple had a daughter together, Linda Susan Agar, b. 1948, (who was later known as Susan Black, taking the surname of her stepfather Charles Alden Black). However, the marriage floundered, in part because of Agar's drinking (he had been arrested for drunk driving) and in part because of pressures of their high public profile. Temple sued for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty in 1949.[3][4]

In 1950 Agar was fined for reckless driving.[5] In 1951 Agar was jailed for five months for drunk driving.[6] He was released after 60 days on probation. In 1953 he was arrested for drunk driving again and was sentenced to 120 days in prison.[7]

B Movie Star[edit]

Agar's career suffered in the wake of his divorce, but he developed a niche playing leading men in low-budget science fiction, Western, and horror movies in the 1950s and 1960s. John Wayne gave him several supporting roles in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In later years he worked extensively in television.

"I don't resent being identified with B science fiction movies at all," Agar later said. "Why should I? Even though they were not considered top of the line, for those people that like sci-fi, I guess they were fun. My whole feeling about working as an actor is, if I give anybody any enjoyment, I'm doing my job, and that's what counts."[2]

In 1954 Agar signed a seven-year contract with Universal.

In 1960 he was again arrested for drunk driving.[8]

Second marriage[edit]

After his divorce from Temple, Agar remarried in 1951 to model Loretta Barnett Combs (1922–2000). They remained married for 49 years until her death in 2000. They had two sons, Martin Agar and John G. Agar, III.[9]


Agar died on April 7, 2002 at Burbank, California of complications from emphysema. He was buried beside his wife at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.[10] He was survived by his three children.




  • Perry Mason (1959) - episode - The Case of the Caretaker's Cat - Kenneth Baxter
  • Rawhide (1959) - episode - Incident at the Buffalo Smokehouse - Lon Grant
  • Destination Space (1959) - unsold pilot
  • Rawhide (1960) - episode - Incident of the Slavemaster - Mike Anderson
  • Bat Masterson (1961) - episode - Farmer with a Badge - Sam Phelps
  • Ripcord (1961) - episode - Chuting Stars - Warren Officer Frank Pierson
  • Lawman (1962) - episode - The Witness - Jim Martin
  • Death Valley Days (1963) - episode - Pioneer Doctor - Dr. Edwards
  • The Virginian (1964) - episode - Another's Footsteps - Tom Anders
  • Branded (1965) - episode - $10,000 for Durango - The Sheriff
  • Family Affair (1967) - episode - What Did You Do in the West, Uncle? - Gabe
  • Hondo (1967) - episode - Hondo and the Judas - Frank James
  • The Virginian - episode - The Mustangers - Joe Williams
  • Charlie's Angels (1976) - episode - Target: Angels - Col. Blaylock
  • Highway to Heaven (1984) - episode - The Return of the Masked Rider - Morton Clay
  • The Making of 'Sands of Iwo Jima (1993) - Video Documentary Short - Himself


  1. ^ John Agar profile,; accessed February 18, 2014
  2. ^ a b c John Agar Biography at Monster Shack accessed January 19, 2014
  3. ^ a b John Agar obituary in The Guardian 13 April 2002 accessed 19 January 2014
  4. ^ Kristin McMurran, "Shirley Temple Black Taps Out a Telling Memoir of Child Stardom", People Magazine 28 November 1988 accessed 19 January 2014
  5. ^ "John Agar Fined in Driving Case". Los Angeles Times. 21 April 1950. p. 2. 
  6. ^ "John Agar Sentenced to Jail". New York Times. 28 August 1951. p. 21. 
  7. ^ "John Agar Gets 120 Days for Violating Probation". Chicago Daily Tribune. 31 January 1953. p. a8. 
  8. ^ "John Agar Fined for Drunk Driving". Los Angeles Times. 16 January 1960. p. B1. 
  9. ^ Los Angeles Times obituary, April 9, 2002; accessed January 19, 2014
  10. ^ John Agar at Find a Grave
  11. ^

External links[edit]