Steve Cochran

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Steve Cochran
Robert Alexander Cochran

(1917-05-25)May 25, 1917
DiedJune 15, 1965(1965-06-15) (aged 48)
Off the coast of Guatemala
Alma materUniversity of Wyoming
Years active1944–1965
Spouse(s)Florence Lockwood (1935–1946; divorced) 1 child
Fay McKenzie (1946–1948; divorced)
Jonna Jensen (1961–1965; his death)
ChildrenXandra Cochran[2]

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 cowpuncher, Cochran developed his acting skills in local theatre and gradually progressed to Broadway, film and television.


Early life[edit]

Cochran was born in Eureka, California,[3] 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 days, he gained experience appearing in summer stock and in the early 1940s he was given the chance to work with the Shakespeare Festival in Carmel. There he played "Orsino" in "Twelfth Night", "Malcolm" in "Macbeth", "Horatio" in "Hamlet" and the ungainly title role of "Richard III".[citation needed]

Cochran performed in plays in the Federal Theatre Project in Detroit. During World War II he was rejected for military service due to a heart murmur but directed and performed in plays at a variety of Army camps.,[4]

In December 1943 he was appearing with Constance Bennett in a touring production of Without Love when he was signed by Sam Goldwyn.[5]

On Broadway, Cochran appeared in Hickory Stick (1944).[6]

Sam Goldwyn[edit]

Samuel Goldwyn brought Cochran to Hollywood in 1945.[3] Goldwyn only made a few films a year so loaned Cochran to Columbia Pictures for Booked on Suspicion (1945), a Boston Blackie movie.

Goldwyn then put him in Wonder Man (1945) a Danny Kaye movie co-starring Virginia Mayo and Vera-Ellen; Cochran played a gangster. Columbia used him in another Boston Blackie, Blackie's Rendezvous (1945), where he played a villain, and in The Gay Senorita (1945), with Jinx Falkenburg.

Goldwyn 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 his prestigious drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing a man who has an affair with Virginia Mayo while her husband Dana Andrews was 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. He made his TV debut in "Dinner at Antoine's" for The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse (1949) and followed this with "Tin Can Skipper" for NBC Presents (1949). He returned to Broadway for a short lived revival of Mae West's Diamond Lil, supporting West. This revived Hollywood's interest in him.[7]

Warner Bros[edit]

In 1949 Cochran went over to Warner Bros, where he played psychotic mobster James Cagney's power-hungry henchman, Big Ed Somers, in the gangster classic White Heat (1949). He appeared opposite Mayo. Warner Bros would eventually take over Cochran's and Mayo's contracts from Goldwyn.

Cochran supported Joan Crawford in The Damned Don't Cry (1950), then 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, then was given the lead in Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951), which inspired Johnny Cash to write his song "Folsom Prison Blues".[citation needed]

Warners gave him another lead in Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), a film noir with Ruth Roman. He was back to support parts in Jim Thorpe – All-American (1951) with Burt Lancaster.

Warners starred him in a war movie, The Tanks Are Coming (1951), and a Western, The Lion and the Horse (1952). He co-starred with Cornel Wilde in Operation Secret (1952) and supported Virginia Mayo in a musical, She's Back on Broadway (1953). In The Desert Song (1953), Cochran played Gordon Macrae's rival for Kathryn Grayson.[8] He then left Warners.

Post Warners[edit]

Cochran starred in the low budget action film Shark River (1953) for United Artists. At Universal he was a villain to Rock Hudson in Back to God's Country (1953).

He returned to television appearing in episodes of Lux Video Theatre ("Three Just Men" (1953)), and Studio One in Hollywood ("Letter of Love" (1953)). Cochran went to Germany to make Carnival Story (1954) for the King Brothers.

Back in Hollywood he made Private Hell 36 (1954) with Ida Lupino for director Don Siegel. He did "Foreign Affair" (1954) for Robert Montgomery Presents and "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), "Bait for the Tiger" (1957) for Climax!, and "The Seeds of Hate" (1955) for General Electric Theatre.

Republic Pictures hired him to play Ann Sheridan's love interest in Come Next Spring (1956). Cochran then went to England to play the lead in The Weapon (1956).

Cochran supported Van Johnson in MGM's Slander (1957). He went to Italy to star in Il Grido (1957) for Michelangelo Antonioni alongside Alida Valli and Betsy Blair; filming took seven months.[9]

On TV he did "Outlaw's Boots" (1957) for Schlitz Playhouse, "Debt of Gratitude" (1958) for Zane Grey Theater, and "Strictly Personal" (1958) for The Loretta Young Show.

Cochran had the lead in an Allied Artists Western, Quantrill's Raiders (1958) and a Roger Corman gangster film, I Mobster (1959). Albert Zugsmith used him for the lead in The Beat Generation (1959) and The Big Operator (1959).

Later career[edit]

However from this point on Cochran worked mostly in television, guest starring in series such as Bonanza, 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, Burke's Law and the 1959 episode "What You Need" (S1, Ep. 12; airdate: Dec. 25, 1959) of CBS's The Twilight Zone.

He had the lead in a TV movie The Renegade (1960) and was in Sam Peckinpah's debut feature The Deadly Companions (1961).

Cochran was Merle Oberon's co star in Of Love and Desire (1963), shot in Mexico. He had the lead in Mozambique (1964) for Harry Alan Towers.


In 1953 Cochran formed his own production company, Robert Alexander Productions. His production company attempted to make some television series[10] and other 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.[9][11] However they were never produced with the exception of a television pilot where he played John C. Frémont in Fremont the Trailblazer.[12]

However Cochran did write, produce, direct and star in Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965).

Personal life[edit]

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. Cochran was the grandfather of film and television producer Alex Johns, who co-executive produced more than seventy episodes of the animated television series Futurama.[13] In the 2002 documentary The Importance of Being Morrissey, Steven Morrissey claims that his parents named him after Steve Cochran.

Cochran was in trouble with the police a number of times in his life, including a reported assault and a charge of reckless driving in 1953.[14][15]


Cochran has a star at 1750 Hollywood Boulevard in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.[16]


On June 15, 1965, at the age of 48, Cochran died on his yacht off the coast of Guatemala, reportedly due to an acute lung infection. His body, along with three Mexican girls and women aged 14, 19 and 25,[17] remained aboard for ten 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.[18]

There were various rumors of foul play and poisoning, but reportedly no new evidence was found.[19]


Year Title Role Notes
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
1947 Copacabana Steve Hunt
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
1950 Dallas Bryant Marlow
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
1957 Slander H.R. Manley
1957 Il Grido Aldo
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
1965 Mozambique Brad Webster
1967 Tell Me in the Sunlight Dave Filmed in 1965; released posthumously (final film role)


  1. ^ Geoff Mayer (2012). Historical Dictionary of Crime Films. Scarecrow Press. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-0-8108-6769-7.
  2. ^ O'Brian, Jack (March 15, 1970). "Goading Them A New Sport". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. South Carolina, Spartanburg. p. B 10. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ p. 70 Austin, John Tales of Hollywood the Bizarre SP Books, 1992
  5. ^ SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: New York Times 3 Dec 1943: 27.
  6. ^ "("Steve Cochran" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  7. ^ Actor Steve Cochran Believed to Be Dead in Boat Off Guatemala Shore: STEVE COCHRAN Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]27 June 1965: B.
  8. ^ "SHAVED DOWN". The Sun (2567). Sydney. 6 July 1952. p. 50. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ a b PLANS DISCUSSED BY STEVE COCHRAN: Film Actor-Producer, Here on Visit, Talks of Future By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]20 Oct 1962: 13.
  10. ^ Profile of Steve Cochran at Google Books
  11. ^ p.142 Parrish, Robert & DeCarl, Lennard Hollywood Players: The Forties 1976 Arlington House Publishers
  12. ^
  13. ^ Cavna, Michael (2010-08-13). "Remembering 'FUTURAMA' producer Alex Johns, 43". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
  14. ^ "Shot stopped actor's car". The Argus (33, 443). Melbourne. 10 November 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  15. ^ "FILM GOSSIP". The Sun (2618). New South Wales, Australia. 28 June 1953. p. 53. Retrieved 1 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ "Steve Cochran". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  17. ^ Intermission by Anne Baxter
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^

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