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Taeger at the age of thirty-one as Hondo Lane (1967)
July 30, 1936|
Richmond Hill, New York, U.S.
March 11, 2015 (aged 78)|
Placerville, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts|
|Spouse(s)||Linda Jarrett Taeger (1967-2015; his death)|
Ralph Taeger was born in Richmond Hill, Queens to German-speaking parents. Taeger's first career choice was professional baseball, and he did play briefly on a farm team for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Knee injuries prompted him to switch his focus from athletics to acting, though he referred to baseball as his "first love."
A high school teacher had suggested Taeger try public speaking and acting. In the late 1950s he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and also worked as a model. Within six months, however, he landed a major role in a production at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. An official at MGM was so impressed by Taeger's performance that the studio signed him to a contract.
Early in his acting career, Taeger was cast on episodes of the syndicated series, Highway Patrol, starring Broderick Crawford and Manhunt, starring Victor Jory. His first television series as the lead was Klondike, a half-hour western adventure series set in Skagway, Alaska, during the 1897-1899 gold rush. Taeger played Mike Halliday, a rugged prospector.
Midway through the 1960-1961 season, NBC dropped Klondike but transferred Taeger and co-star James Coburn to the replacement series, Acapulco, set in the Mexican resort. In Acapulco, Taeger played Patrick Malone, a Korean War veteran-turned-beachcomber; both Taeger and Coburn's characters providing the security for a lawyer, played by Telly Savalas. In 1965 he guest starred on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
In 1967, Taeger was cast in the title role of Hondo, as Hondo Lane, a cavalry scout in the Arizona Territory of the 1870s, based on the 1953 3D theatrical film starring John Wayne. In a 1967 interview Taeger told TV Guide: "For a long time I couldn't get any work because people had hung a label on me as uncooperative. But I'm not; it's just that I say what I think, and sometimes that rubs folks the wrong way." After Hondo, Taeger made only five television appearances, the last in 1983 as Brimmer in "The Rockets' Red Glare" of the Merlin Olsen NBC western series, Father Murphy.
His film appearances were few, but included roles in X-15 (1961), The Carpetbaggers (1964), Stage to Thunder Rock (1964), A House Is Not a Home (1964), The Delta Factor (1970) and The Hostage Heart (1977).
- Sea Hunt (1960), Season 3, Episode 39
- "Taeger's Firewood: Placerville, CA Firewood Services". taegersfirewood.com. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Barnes, Mike. "Ralph Taeger Dead: 'Hondo' TV Star Was 78". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
- Brooks, Tim. (1987). The Complete Directory To Primetime TV Stars. New York: Ballantine Books, p. 827.
- Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle. (1979). The Complete Directory To Primetime Network TV Shows. New York: Ballantine Books, pp. 5, 270, 327.
- Lamparski, Richard. (1985). Whatever became of...?, Ninth Series. New York: Crown Publishers Inc., pp. 170–171.
- Prelutsky, Burt. (1967, December 2–8). He Can Always Go Back To Polishing Floors. TV Guide, pp. 32–34.
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