John McIntire

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John McIntire
John McIntire as Chris Hale Wagon Train 1961.JPG
McIntire as Chris Hale in Wagon Train (1961)
Born(1907-06-27)June 27, 1907
DiedJanuary 30, 1991(1991-01-30) (aged 83)
Resting placeTobacco Valley Cemetery, Eureka, Montana, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
Years active1932–1989
(m. 1935)
ChildrenTim McIntire
Holly Wright

John Herrick McIntire (June 27, 1907 – January 30, 1991) was an American character actor[1] who appeared in 65 theatrical films and many television series. McIntire is well known for having replaced Ward Bond, upon Bond's sudden death in November 1960, as the star of NBC's Wagon Train. He played Christopher Hale, the leader of the wagon train (and successor to Bond's character, Seth Adams) from early 1961 to the series' end in 1965. He also replaced Charles Bickford, upon Bickford's death in 1967, as ranch owner Clay Grainger (brother of Bickford's character) on NBC's The Virginian for four seasons.[citation needed]

Early years[edit]

The son of Byron Jean McIntire and Chastine Uretta Herrick McIntire, John McIntire was born in Spokane, Washington,[2] and was of Irish descent.[citation needed] He grew up primarily in Eureka, Montana around ranchers,[2] an experience that later inspired his performances in dozens of film and television westerns.[citation needed] Later, he lived in Santa Monica, California.[2]

He studied at the University of California for two years before dropping out.[2]


McIntire began acting on radio in Tarzan and the Diamond of Asher and he met his future wife Jeanette Nolan through their work on radio programs.[3] McIntire played the title role in a Los Angeles radio station's production of The Adventures of Bill Lance[4] and was the first actor to play the title role in the CBS radio drama Crime Doctor.[4]: 86  He played Jack Packard in I Love a Mystery[4]: 160  and Peter Carter in the radio version of The Lineup.[4]: 201-202  He worked on many episodes of Suspense from the early 1940s.[citation needed] He was the narrator for the radio programs Lincoln Highway,[4]: 201  and The March of Time.[2] He can be heard on an episode of the radio version of Gunsmoke on CBS portraying Miss Kitty's estranged father.[5]

He was active in the theatre, before he embarked on a lengthy film and television career as a character actor. He was already 40 when he made his big-screen debut in 1947 in the movie "The Hucksters",[citation needed] but went on to appear in films, often portraying police figures, doctors, judges, eccentric loners or other western characters.[citation needed]

McIntire and James Stewart in The Far Country (1955)

He had an excellent, sympathetic turn as an aging detective in Scene of the Crime (1949), played a police commissioner in The Asphalt Jungle (1950), a sheriff in the 1960 Hitchcock thriller Psycho and a reverend in the 1960 drama Elmer Gantry starring Burt Lancaster, but some of his more memorable roles were in westerns such as The Far Country (1955), with James Stewart, and The Tin Star (1957) with Henry Fonda. In Anthony Mann's Winchester '73, McIntire plays a shrewd card sharp and gun dealer.

Though he technically played a supporting part, McIntire received top billing and his greatest critical acclaim for the fact-based crime movie The Phenix City Story (1955). He played Albert Patterson, a real-life reform politician who was assassinated by the Mob.

In the mid-1950s, McIntire moved into television, appearing in anthology series, sitcoms and dramas. He guest-starred as Judson in the episode "Chinese Invasion" of NBC's one-season western series, Cimarron City, with George Montgomery and John Smith.[citation needed]

1962 Wagon Train cast with (clockwise) McIntire, Terry Wilson, Frank McGrath, and Scott Miller.
With Wagon Train guest stars Dan Duryea and Jane Wyman, 1962

McIntire procured a regular role on ABC's Naked City,[6]: 740  before his character was killed off. McIntire was cast from January to May 1961 in the supporting role of Pa Canfield in the NBC American Civil War drama The Americans.[6]: 39 .

Though McIntire had never played the lead in a theatrical film, television provided him with his most prominent and long-running role when in 1961 he replaced the late Ward Bond in the NBC/ABC series Wagon Train, playing trailmaster Chris Hale[6]: 1147  in more than 150 episodes between 1961 and 1965. His co-stars were Robert Horton, Robert Fuller, Denny Scott Miller, Terry Wilson, Frank McGrath, and Michael Burns.

In 1960, McIntire guest-starred as William Palmer in the series finale, "The Most Dangerous Gentleman", of the short-lived NBC western Overland Trail, starring William Bendix and Doug McClure, his subsequent co-star on The Virginian. Also in 1960 John starred in a The Twilight Zone episode "The Chaser" where he played a mysterious purveyor of potions. McIntire guest starred twice in the western TV series Bonanza: he played Sheriff Mike Latimer in the 1961 episode "The Bride" and he portrayed Old Charlie Conners in the 1966 episode "Old Charlie". In 1967, he guest-starred in an episode of CBS's short-lived western, Dundee and the Culhane.

McIntire replaced actor Charles Bickford (who had himself replaced Lee J. Cobb) on NBC's The Virginian in 1967 when Bickford died (the second time McIntire replaced the leading man in a television series after the lead died, the first being Ward Bond in Wagon Train). McIntire played Clay Grainger,[6]: 1143-1144  the brother of Bickford's character for four seasons, a major recurring leading role in a weekly 90-minute western series similar in size and scope to his earlier work on Wagon Train.

He played the supporting role of Judge Parker in Rooster Cogburn (1975), the sequel to True Grit starring John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn, and appeared as Owen Keating in the 1977 television miniseries Aspen. His final film role was in Turner & Hooch (1989).

In 1979–1980, McIntire played Ethan McHenry in Shirley on NBC,[6]: 962-963  and in 1981, he played Sam Whittier on the ABC drama The American Dream.[6]

Starting in 1960 McIntire began appearing with his wife Jeanette Nolan. Both were in Psycho, he playing a sheriff and she voicing some of the "mother" lines. In the Wagon Train episode "The Janet Hale Story" McIntire and Nolan played husband and wife Chris and Janet Hale. In The Virginian, they also played husband and wife. They both appeared again as husband and wife in The Fugitive (1966) season 3, episode 24, as farm workers with their real life son, Tim. In the 1979 Charlie's Angels episode "Angels on Vacation" they appeared together as Chris Monroe's Uncle Paul and Aunt Lydia. They played a US senator and his wife in the TV movie Goliath Awaits (1981). In the 1984 comic spy adventure Cloak & Dagger, they again played a couple. This time they portrayed sinister spies posing as harmless elderly tourists. They also played the parents of John Larroquette's character, Dan Fielding - "Daddy Bob Elmore" and "Mucette Elmore" - on Night Court's season 2 episode, "Dan's Parents."

McIntire and Nolan also worked together as voice actors. In a 1969 KCET television reading of Norman Corwin's 1938 radio play The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, McIntire played the Devil and Nolan played Lucrezia Borgia. In 1977 they appeared in the Disney animated film The Rescuers, in which he voiced the cat Rufus and she the muskrat Ellie Mae. Four years later, the couple worked on another Disney film, The Fox and the Hound, with McIntire as the voice of Mr. Digger, a badger, and Nolan as the voice of Widow Tweed.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

With daughter Holly McIntire on Wagon Train (1963)

McIntire married actress Jeanette Nolan on August 26, 1935,[2] and the couple had two children together, one of whom was actor Tim McIntire. Their daughter Holly McIntire was also an actress, appearing in two episodes of Wagon Train, and later became a photographer.

McIntire died on January 30, 1991 (aged 83) from emphysema and lung cancer at St. Luke's Hospital in Pasadena.[7]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, February 4, 1991.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Aaker, Everett (2017). Television Western Players, 1960–1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. p. 290. ISBN 978-1476662503. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Jeanette Nolan". June 10, 1998. Archived from the original on June 13, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  5. ^ "Gunsmoke - Single Episodes". January 5, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  7. ^ "Tim McIntireI" Retrieved 19 June 2015

External links[edit]