Robert Alexander Cochran
May 25, 1917
|Died||June 15, 1965 (aged 48)|
Off the coast of Guatemala
|Alma mater||University of Wyoming|
(m. 1935; div. 1946)
(m. 1946; div. 1948)
|Relatives||Alex Johns (grandson)|
Steve Cochran (born Robert Alexander Cochran, May 25, 1917 – June 15, 1965) was an American film, television and stage actor. He attended the University of Wyoming. After a stint working as a cowboy, Cochran developed his acting skills in local theatre and gradually progressed to Broadway, film and television.
Early life and career
Cochran was born in Eureka, California, but grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of a logger. While he appeared in high school plays, he spent more time delving into athletics, particularly basketball.
After stints as a cowpuncher and railroad station hand, he studied at the University of Wyoming, where he also played basketball. Impulsively, he quit college in 1937 and decided to go straight to Hollywood to become a star.
Working as a carpenter and department store detective during his early adulthood, Cochran also gained experience appearing in summer stock. In the early 1940s he worked with the Shakespeare Festival in Carmel, where he played Orsino in Twelfth Night, Malcolm in Macbeth, Horatio in Hamlet and the title role in Richard III. He then performed in plays for the Federal Theatre Project in Detroit.
Goldwyn then put him in Wonder Man (1945), a Danny Kaye movie co-starring Virginia Mayo and Vera-Ellen in which Cochran played a gangster. Columbia then used him in another Boston Blackie film, Blackie's Rendezvous (1945), in which he played a villain, and in The Gay Senorita (1945) with Jinx Falkenburg.
Goldwyn then used Cochran in another Danny Kaye movie with Mayo and Vera-Ellen, The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). After United Artists borrowed him to play a gangster in The Chase (1946), Cochran appeared in the prestigious drama The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing a man who has an affair with a woman played by Virginia Mayo while her husband (played by Dana Andrews) is away at war. The movie was a huge critical and commercial success.
Cochran had a supporting role opposite Groucho Marx in Copacabana (1947) for United Artists. Goldwyn got him to play another gangster opposite Kaye and Mayo in A Song is Born (1948), directed by Howard Hawks.
In 1949 Cochran went over to Warner Bros., playing Big Ed Somers, a power-hungry henchman to James Cagney's psychotic mobster in White Heat (1949) opposite Virginia Mayo. Warner Bros. eventually took over Cochran's and Mayo's contracts from Goldwyn.
Cochran supported Joan Crawford in The Damned Don't Cry (1950), after which he was given his first lead role, in Highway 301 (1950), playing a gangster. He was a villain to Gary Cooper's hero in Dallas (1950) and played a Ku Klux Klan member in Storm Warning (1951) with Ginger Rogers and Doris Day.
Cochran was a villain in Canyon Pass (1951), a western, and then was given the lead in Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951), which inspired Johnny Cash to write his song "Folsom Prison Blues".
Warners starred him in The Tanks Are Coming (1951) and in a rare sympathetic role in The Lion and the Horse (1952). He co-starred with Cornel Wilde in Operation Secret (1952) and supported Virginia Mayo in She's Back on Broadway (1953). In The Desert Song (1953), Cochran played Gordon Macrae's rival for Kathryn Grayson. He then left Warners.
He returned to television, appearing in episodes of Lux Video Theatre ("Three Just Men" (1953)), and Studio One in Hollywood ("Letter of Love" (1953)). He reportedly made a film in Mexico called Embarcardero, which he co wrote, directed and starred in alongside Edward Norri.
Back in Hollywood, he co-starred in Private Hell 36 (1954) with Ida Lupino for Don Siegel. His TV roles included "Foreign Affair" (1954) for Robert Montgomery Presents; "The Role of a Lover" (1954) and "The Most Contagious Game" (1955) for Studio One; "Trip Around the Block" (1954) and "The Menace of Hasty Heights" (1956) for The Ford Television Theatre; "The After House" (1954), "Fear is the Hunter" (1956), and "Bait for the Tiger" (1957) for Climax!; and "The Seeds of Hate" (1955) for General Electric Theatre.
On television, he appeared in "Outlaw's Boots" (1957) for Schlitz Playhouse, "Debt of Gratitude" (1958) for Zane Grey Theater, "Strictly Personal" (1958) for The Loretta Young Show, and an episode of The Twilight Zone, “What You Need”, in 1959.
Cochran played the lead roles in Quantrill's Raiders (1958), an Allied Artists western, and in I Mobster (1959), a Roger Corman gangster film. Albert Zugsmith used him for the lead roles in The Beat Generation (1959) and The Big Operator (1959).
After 1959, Cochran worked mostly in television, guest-starring in series such as Bonanza (Season 6, episode 26, "The Trap", aired on March 28, 1965), The Untouchables, Route 66, Bus Stop, Stoney Burke, The Naked City, Shirley Temple's Storybook, The Dick Powell Theatre, The Virginian, Route 66, Death Valley Days, Mr. Broadway, and Burke's Law.
He had the lead in the TV movie The Renegade (1960) and was in Sam Peckinpah's debut feature, The Deadly Companions (1961). They had first worked together when Peckinpah was dialogue director on the film noir Private Hell 36 (1954).
In 1953 Cochran formed his own production company, Robert Alexander Productions, which attempted to make some television series, and films such as The Tom Mix Story (with Cochran as Mix), Hope is the Last Thing to Die, about the Mexican War, and Klondike Lou. None of these was ever produced, but his coompany did make a television pilot, Fremont the Trailblazer, in which he played John C. Frémont. Cochran also wrote, produced, directed and starred in Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965).
Cochran was a notorious womanizer and attracted tabloid attention for his tumultuous private life, which included well-documented affairs with numerous starlets and actresses. Mamie Van Doren later wrote about their sex life in graphic detail in her tell-all autobiography Playing the Field: My Story (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1987). He was also married and divorced three times, to actress Fay McKenzie, Florence Lockwood and Jonna Jensen. He and Lockwood had one daughter, Xandra, through whom he is the grandfather of film and television producer Alex Johns, who was a co-executive producer for more than seventy episodes of the animated television series Futurama. In the 2002 documentary The Importance of Being Morrissey, Steven Morrissey claims that his parents named him after Steve Cochran.
On June 15, 1965, at the age of 48, Cochran died on his yacht off the coast of Guatemala, reportedly owing to an acute lung infection. His body, along with three Mexican females aged 14, 19 and 25, remained aboard for 10 days since the girls did not know how to operate the boat. It drifted to shore in Port Champerico, Guatemala, and was found by authorities. A newspaper reported that, according to the witnesses, "Cochran became ill on June 14 and died two days later". There were various rumors of foul play and poisoning, but no evidence was found. Cochran's widow was given half of his estate of $25,000. She shared it with his daughter by another marriage.
|1945||Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion||Jack Higgins||Alternative title: Booked on Suspicion|
|1945||Wonder Man||Ten Grand Jackson|
|1945||Boston Blackie's Rendezvous||Jimmy Cook||Alternative title: Blackie's Rendezvous|
|1945||The Gay Senorita||Tomas Obrion aka Tim O'Brien|
|1946||The Kid from Brooklyn||Speed McFarlane|
|1946||The Chase||Eddie Roman|
|1946||The Best Years of Our Lives||Cliff||Alternative titles: Glory for Me and Home Again|
|1948||A Song Is Born||Tony Crow||Alternative title: That's Life|
|1949||White Heat||Big Ed Somers|
|1950||The Damned Don't Cry||Nick Prenta|
|1950||Highway 301||George Legenza|
|1951||Storm Warning||Hank Rice|
|1951||Raton Pass||Cy Van Cleave||Alternative title: Canyon Pass|
|1951||Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison||Chuck Daniels|
|1951||Tomorrow Is Another Day||Bill Clark / Mike Lewis|
|1951||Jim Thorpe – All-American||Peter Allendine||Alternative title: Man of Bronze|
|1951||The Tanks Are Coming||Francis Aloysius 'Sully' Sullivan|
|1952||The Lion and the Horse||Ben Kirby|
|1952||Operation Secret||Marcel Brevoort|
|1953||She's Back on Broadway||Rick Sommers|
|1953||The Desert Song||Captain Claude Fontaine|
|1953||Shark River||Dan Webley|
|1953||Back to God's Country||Paul Blake|
|1954||Carnival Story||Joe Hammond|
|1954||Private Hell 36||Cal Bruner|
|1956||Come Next Spring||Matt Ballot|
|1956||The Weapon||Mark Andrews|
|1958||Quantrill's Raiders||Capt. Alan Wescott|
|1959||I Mobster||Joe Sante|
|1959||The Beat Generation||Dave Culloran|
|1959||The Big Operator||Bill Gibson||Alternative title: Anatomy of the Syndicate|
|1961||The Deadly Companions||Billy Keplinger|
|1963||Of Love and Desire||Steve Corey|
|1967||Tell Me in the Sunlight||Dave||Filmed in 1965; released posthumously (final film role)|
- Geoff Mayer (2012). Historical Dictionary of Crime Films. Scarecrow Press. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-0-8108-6769-7.
- Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 136. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- The Life Story of STEVE COCHRAN Picture Show; London Vol. 59, Iss. 1530, (Jul 26, 1952): 12.
- John Austin, Tales of Hollywood the Bizarre SP Books, 1992, p. 70.
- "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. December 3, 1943. p. 27.
- "("Steve Cochran" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- Actor Steve Cochran Believed to Be Dead in Boat Off Guatemala Shore: STEVE COCHRAN Los Angeles Times 27 June 1965: B.
- Steve Cochran Set for Dramatic Role Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 15 Dec 1950: 30.
- Steve Cochran Star in Sympathetic Role Los Angeles Times 11 Aug 1951: A8.
- "SHAVED DOWN". The Sun (2567). Sydney. 6 July 1952. p. 50. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Steve Cochran Plans Directing Career; 'Space Station' Put on Roster Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]22 May 1953: B9.
- Hedda Hopper, "Steve Cochran to Do First Film in Europe", Los Angeles Times 20 May 1953, p. 22.
- "Ann Sheridan, Steve Cochran Starring in Arkansas Story By John Beaufort", Christian Science Monitor, March 19, 1956: 7.
- HOWARD THOMPSON (Oct 20, 1962). "PLANS DISCUSSED BY STEVE COCHRAN: Film Actor-Producer, Here on Visit, Talks of Future". New York Times. p. 13.
- Profile of Steve Cochran at Google Books
- p.142 Parrish, Robert & DeCarl, Lennard Hollywood Players: The Forties 1976 Arlington House Publishers
- "Steve Cochran at Brian's Drive-In Theater".
- O'Brian, Jack (March 15, 1970). "Goading Them A New Sport". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. South Carolina, Spartanburg. p. B 10. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- Cavna, Michael (2010-08-13). "Remembering 'FUTURAMA' producer Alex Johns, 43". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Shot stopped actor's car". The Argus (33, 443). Melbourne. 10 November 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "FILM GOSSIP". The Sun (2618). New South Wales, Australia. 28 June 1953. p. 53. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Steve Cochran". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- Intermission by Anne Baxter
- "SEA PUZZLE Inquiry into actor's death". The Canberra Times. 39 (11, 194). 29 June 1965. p. 5. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Steve Cochran".
- "Steve Cochran Widow Given Half of Estate", Los Angeles Times October 13, 1965, p. 22.