Stuart Whitman

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Stuart Whitman
Stuart Whitman in The Longest Day (publicity still).jpg
Stuart Whitman in The Longest Day (1962)
Born Stuart Maxwell Whitman
(1928-02-01) February 1, 1928 (age 88)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1951–2000
Spouse(s) Julia Vadimovna Paradiz (1993–present)
Caroline Boubis (1966–74) (divorced)
Patricia LaLonde (1952–66) (divorced)

Stuart Maxwell Whitman (born February 1, 1928)[1] is an American actor. He is known for playing Marshal Jim Crown in the Western television series Cimarron Strip in 1967. Whitman also starred with John Wayne in the Western film, The Comancheros, in 1961, and received top billing as the romantic lead in the extravagant aerial epic Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines in 1965.

Early life[edit]

Whitman was born in San Francisco, California, the elder of two sons, the son of Cecilia (née Gold) and Joseph Whitman. His family was Jewish[2] and Whitman describes himself as "a real American - have a little bit of English, Irish, Scotch and Russian - so I get along with everyone."[3]

His parents had married in their teens traveled frequently during his childhood - his father was a lawyer who moved into property development. Whitman started his education in New York, in Manhattan and Poughkeepsie.[4][5] "I went to so many schools—26 in all!—that I was always an outsider," he later recalled. "It wasn’t until high school that I could REALLY read . . . I always sat in the back of the room."[6]

He was interested in acting since he was five[7] and did three summer stock plays in New York when he was twelve but "nobody took that seriously," he said.[3] His uncle Ben thought he had potential as a boxer and secretly trained him for that.[8] When World War Two broke out, Joseph Whitman moved to Los Angeles to run oil cracking plants for the government. His family settled in Los Angeles and Whitman graduated from Hollywood High in 1945.

Military service[edit]

After school he enlisted in the US Army and served in the Corps of Engineers for three years at Fort Lewis, Washington. During this time he occasionally boxed, winning 31 of his 32 bouts. Whitman had a difficult time with US Army fighter Archibald "Denny" Dennison Scott III from whom he had had bouts with at Hollywood High School. Scott who had gone into active duty in January 1944 after 5 months of the delayed entry program had won against his third opponent who was considered his toughest match up. Whitman was honorably discharged in 1948 while his close friend Scott went on the following year to OCS ending his service with the rank of Colonel.[3]

Acting[edit]

He originally intended to follow his father into the law and used the G.I. Bill to enroll in Los Angeles City College. He did a minor in drama. During his first year he "figured that law was a real bore"[4] and began to develop ambitions to be an actor.

"I reached a point where I said, 'What are you going to do with your life? You got to get something going.'" he said. "I decided I wanted to spend most of my time on me. So I decided to develop me and educate me."[7]

"My father wanted me to come into his law firm and dabble in real estate on the side," recalled Whitman. "There was a family row about boxing but nothing like the battle when I told my father I was going to be an actor. He said, 'If that's the case you're on your own.' No money from him. And he kept his word."[3]

His father did sell Whitman a bulldozer which his son used to support himself in college. Whitman would hire it (and himself) out to others to clear lots, uproot trees and level off rugged terrain.[3] This worked earned him up to $100 a day. He and his father later went into real estate development together, purchasing various lots in and around Los Angeles.[8]

Whitman joined the Michael Chekhov Stage Society and studied with them at night for four years. He was considering a career in professional football but injured his leg at college playing Hugh McElhenny, which put an end to these dreams.[6]

He joined the Ben Bard Drama School in Hollywood. He debuted in the school's production of Here Comes Mr Jordan which ran for six months.

Whitman and Victoria Shaw in Cimarron Strip (1967)

Career[edit]

Whitman was spotted by a talent scout while at City College. He made his screen debut in a bit in When Worlds Collide (1951). He followed this with other small parts in films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Barbed Wire (1952) and One Minute to Zero (1952).

In December 1952 he signed a contract with Universal, who put him in Veils of Bagdad, All I Desire (1953) and The All American (1953).[9] He appeared on stage in Venus Observed by Christopher Fry for the Coast Theatre in 1954.[10]

He had a decent role in Rhapsody (1954) at MGM then made Silver Lode (1954); Brigadoon (1954), back at MGM; Passion (1954); King of the Carnival (1955), a serial at Republic; Diane (1955); and Seven Men from Now (1956).

His parts gradually grew in size - Crime of Passion (1957), Hell Bound (1957), War Drums (1957) and The Girl in Black Stockings (1957).

He had his first leading role with Johnny Trouble (1957) produced by John Carroll who had Whitman under contract for one film a year for seven years; the Los Angeles Times said he "reminds of both Robert Ryan and James Dean."[11] He made China Doll (1958).

He frequently appeared as police officer Sgt. Walters on the television series Highway Patrol. One of his early roles came in 1957 in the syndicated military dramas, Harbor Command, a drama about the United States Coast Guard, and The Silent Service, based on true stories of the submarine service of the United States Navy.

When Charlton Heston, who had originally been signed to play the lead in 1958's Darby's Rangers left the film, James Garner was given the lead and Whitman wound up with Garner's original role in the film.[12]

By this time his side career as a real estate developer was thriving. He and his father developed hundreds of acres in such places as Anaheim, Benedict Canyon and Panorama City, often in partnership with his father. "Because of it I've never worked as an extra," he said in 1958. "I've never accepted a part that I wouldn't though advance my career. I've never taken an acting job, in movies or TV, which paid less than $250 a week."[3]

20th Century Fox[edit]

In the late 1950s, 20th Century Fox were on a drive to develop new talent. Head of production Buddy Adler said "We must bring young people back into film theatres and the best way is to develop young stars as a magnet. While stories have become more important than ever, we must seek our fresh, youthful talent to perform in them."[13]

Whitman was one of a number new names signed to Fox by Adler as part of a $3–4 million star-building program. The others were May Britt, Christine Carère, Barry Coe, Gary Crosby, Michael David, Bradford Dillman, Fabian Forte, Brett Halsey, David Hedison, Linda Hutchings, Lionel Kane, Hope Lange, Gardner Mackay, Dolores Michaels, Don Murray, France Nuyen, Luciana Paluzzi, Suzy Parker, Lee Remick, Robert Stephens, Jill St. John, Ray Stricklyn, Diane Varsi and Margot Warner.[13][14]

Whitman's contract was for seven years. He later said he did this in order to get a choice small part in Ten North Frederick (1958) and "many good things came from that".[15] Hedda Hopper called this "the part that put him into top rank characterisations".[3]

Whitman followed it with These Thousand Hills (1958) for Fox then got star billing at MGM in The Decks Ran Red (1958) where he shared an interracial kiss with Dorothy Dandridge. It was made by Andrew L. Stone who wanted Whitman to appear in The Last Voyage (1960)[16] but Robert Stack played the role instead. He got another good role at Fox when he replaced Robert Wagner in The Sound and the Fury (1959), supporting Joanne Woodward and Yul Brynner.[17]

In 1958 Hedda Hopper wrote a piece on Whitman which said he could be the "new Clark Gable":

This is a fresh personality with tremendous impact. He's tall and lean with shock of unruly black hair and dark hazel eyes which harden to slate grey when he plays a bad man or or turns on the heat in a love scene. When he comes into camera range the audience sits up and says: "Who dat?"[3]

Leading Man[edit]

At Fox, Whitman graduated to leading man parts. He had an excellent role co-starring with Fabian Forte in Hound-Dog Man (1959), playing his "fourth heel in a row... I had a ball because the character was a real louse, everything hanging off him an no inhibitions. I like those kind of guys I suppose because I can't be that way myself."[18]

He had a change of pace when he replaced Stephen Boyd as Boaz in a sensitive Biblical drama, The Story of Ruth (1960). He followed this with a gangster tale, Murder, Inc. (1960). "I've done lots of different parts since I left Hollywood High School and City College," said Whitman in a 1960 interview," so the sudden switch didn't bother me too much. I hope 20th Century Fox will keep the roles varied and interesting."[8]

The Los Angeles Times did a profile on Whitman around this time calling him "an actor of growing importance in a business, motion pictures, that needs stalwarts to follow in the steps of the Clark Gables, Gary Coopers and John Waynes... Whitman is like a finely trained athletic champion - a modest but self assured chap who seems to know where he is going."[8]

The Mark[edit]

Nonetheless Whitman was frustrated with the sort of roles he was getting. "I had been knocking around and not getting anything to test my ability," he said.[19] When Richard Burton turned down the role of a child molester in The Mark in order to do Camelot, Whitman accepted. "I wanted to find out if I was in the right business."[19]

The film was shot in Ireland. Whitman's performance earned him his best ever reviews and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He said the film "doubled my rating as an actor".[15] However he later said "I had a tough time breaking my image in that movie... it blocked my image as a gutsy outdoorsman."[19]

Whitman said in 1961 "I've had to battle and say what is an actor? It's a fellow who plays someone else. But now I realise it's the image that makes a star. John Wayne is a great example. Gary Cooper is another one. My image? I think it's being free and easy and all man. I say to myself I want to become an actor, I want to lose myself in each role. But that's not the way to become an actor."[7]

Whitman went to South Africa to make The Fiercest Heart (1961), then Italy to shoot the religious epic, Francis of Assisi (1961). Jerry Wald announced Whitman for The Hell Raisers, about the Boxer Rebellion but it was not made.[20] He lobbied unsuccessfully to play the lead in Sanctuary'' (1961)[8] and announced he would form his own production company to make Mandrake Route by Frederick Wakeman.[7] In 1961 he said his bulldozer had "developed into quite a sideline. I'm sure I still wouldn't be in the picture business without it."[7]

None of Whitman's films for Fox had been a particular success at the box office. However he co-starred alongside John Wayne in The Comancheros (1961), which was a hit. After Convicts 4 Whitman had a cameo (playing against Wayne) in the all-star The Longest Day (1962).

By early 1962 Whitman had earned his Oscar nomination and was in much demand - there was talk he might do Mandrake Root, The Victors (1963) or a film with Marilyn Monroe or one with Lewis Milestone.[21]

Instead he played an American pilot in a French film, The Day and the Hour (1963), shot in Paris with Rene Clement. He enjoyed the experience saying "I busted through at last and can now get an honest emotion, project it and make it real. You become egocentric when you involve yourself to such an extent in your role; your next problem is in learning how to turn it off and come home and live with society. It took a lot of time and energy to break through so I could honestly feel and I"m reluctant to turn it off. Now I know why so many actors go to psychiatrists."[15]

There was talk he might get the lead in Cardinal (1963) and he lobbied to play Jimmy Hoffa in an adaptation of The Enemy Within by Robert F. Kennedy[15] but lost the first to Tom Tryon and the latter was not made. He adjusted his contract with Fox to make it for one film a year for five years.[22]

After several months off he announced plans to produce his own film, My Brother's Keeper, based on a novel about the Collyer brothers. Instead he made a film for Fox, Shock Treatment (1964) and British thriller Signpost to Murder then. He also appeared in a TV play written by Rod Serling, "A Killer at Sundial".

After a Western, Rio Conchos (1964), he had the lead in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), which was a massive hit.

Whitman replaced George Peppard in Sands of the Kalahari (1965). It was not popular at the box office; neither was An American Dream (1966), from a novel by Norman Mailer. He played a stuntman for TV in "The Highest Fall of All" for The Bob Hope Theatre (1965).

Cimarron Strip[edit]

Whitman had turned down a number of offers to star in TV series over the years, including Mannix and Judd for the Defence. "I wanted more diversity in acting," he said. I felt it would limit myself."[19]

He changed his mind when offered the role of US Marshal Jim Crown in Cimarron Strip (1967). At $350,000-$400,000 per episode, it was the most expensive TV drama series made til that time. "A lot of big people told me I was the number one man the networks wanted," said Whitman.[19] The series was produced by Whitman's own company. "I always wanted to play a cop with a heart, a guy who would use every possible means not to kill a man," he said. "TV has needed a superhero... and I think Crown can be the guy."[23] However the series only lasted one season.

1970s[edit]

Whitman admitted "I'm the type who must work constantly."[23] He continued to appear in films such as Jailbird (1969), The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever (1970) The City Beneath the Sea (1971), The Last Escape (1970) and The Invincible Six (1970).

In the early 1970s he worked increasingly in Europe. "I left Hollywood because it was getting to be a mad mess!" he said "There are only about two really good scripts going around and they always go to the industry’s two top stars. I thought that in Europe, something better might come my way—and it did! I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I kept bouncing back. I always thought that an actor is destined to act, but I now realize that if you do one role well, you get stuck with it!"[6]

The quality of his films did not increase however: Captain Apache (1971), Revenge (1971), Run, Cougar, Run (1972), The Woman Hunter (1972), Night of the Lepus (1972) (about killer rabbits), The Cat Creature (1973), The Man Who Died Twice (1973), Intertect (1973), Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974), Crazy Mama (1975), Las Vegas Lady (1975), The Billion Dollar Fire (1976), Meet Johnny Barrows (1976), Shatter (1976), Shadows in an Empty Room (1976), Ruby (1977), The White Buffalo (1977), Eaten Alive (1977), The Ransom (1977), Run for the Roses (1977) and Treasure Seekers (1979). He played a character based on Jim Jones in Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979).

Whitman's private fortune continued to grown a combination of his property developments and acting income.[6] "I didn’t need to act to make a living, but had a real passion for it – I just loved to act," said Whitman.[24]

1980s[edit]

The quality of Whitman's credits did not improve during the 1980s: Cuba Crossing (1980), The Monster Club (1980), Magnum Thrust (1981), Demonoid: Messenger of Death (1981). In November 1981 he played Frank Elgin in a Los Angeles stage revival of The Country Girl by Clifford Odets. His film roles were less distinguished: Butterfly (1982), Deadly Intruder (1985), The Treasure of the Amazon (1985), First Strike (1985), Deadly Reactor (1989), Omega Cop (1990), Mob Boss (1990), Improper Conduct (1995), Second Chances (1998) and The President's Man (2000).

For TV he appeared in episodes of Dr. Christian, Zane Grey Theatre, The Roy Rogers Show, Death Valley Days, Time Trax, Superboy (playing Jonathan Kent), Murder, She Wrote (four different episodes over the years), Hotel, Hardcastle and McCormick, Tales from the Darkside, Cover-Up, Fantasy Island, The A-Team, Simon & Simon, Most Wanted, Quincy M.E., Harry O, Ellery Queen, SWAT, The FBI, Night Gallery, Cannon, Hec Ramsey, Ghost Story (1973_, Police Story, The Streets of San Francisco (1972), Mr. Adams and Eve, Have Gun - Will Travel, Knots Landing, Walker Texas Ranger and The Color of Evening.

Awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

His first marriage, to Patricia LaLonde (October 13, 1952 – 1966), ended in divorce. They had four children: Tony (b. 1953), Michael (b. 1954), Linda (b. 1956) and Scott (b. 1958).

Stuart was married to the French-born Caroline Boubis (1966–1974). They had one son together, Justin. They divorced in 1974.

Since 2006 he has been married to Julia Vadimovna Paradiz. He lives in Santa Barbara.[24]

Whitman's brother Kipp (b. 1946) was briefly an actor before becoming a real estate developer.

Selected TV and filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At Ancestry.com
  2. ^ Luft, Herbert G. (October 2, 1959). "The Jewish Year in Hollywood". The Canadian Jewish Chronicle: 68. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hopper, Hedda (19 Oct 1958). "Stuart Whitman to Wear Gable's Crown?". Los Angeles Times. p. E3. 
  4. ^ a b "Stu Whitman---a Lot Going for Him". Los Angeles Times. 18 Feb 1966. p. c11. 
  5. ^ Films and filming. Hansom Books. 1958. 
  6. ^ a b c d Meyer, Jim (September 30, 2009). "Stuart Whitman: Dedicated Professional". Classic Images. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Alpert, Don (20 Aug 1961). "Image for Him: Free, Easy and All Man". Los Angeles Times. p. M4. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Scott, John L. (1 May 1960). "Whitman to Be Film Stalwart". Los Angeles Times. p. H17. 
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (13 Dec 1952). "Scoutmaster Duty Now Likely for Webb; Lauren Bacall to Bait Tycoons". Los Angeles Times. p. 11. 
  10. ^ Von Blon, Katherine (26 May 1954). "Fry's 'Venus Observed' Given Coast Premiere". Los Angeles Times. p. B7. 
  11. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (29 Aug 1957). "Panic in Rain' Readied for Whitman; Stockton to Sub for Deep South". Los Angeles Times. p. C11. 
  12. ^ Wood, Bret. "Darby's Rangers". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  13. ^ a b Scott, John L. (3 Aug 1958). "New Faces: Hand-Picked for Stardom: New Stars to Light Screens". Los Angeles Times. p. E1. 
  14. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (16 Aug 1959). "$4 MILLION LATER: 20th Has Its Stars of Tomorrow---Today 20th Builds Stable of Own Stars". Los Angeles Times. p. E1. 
  15. ^ a b c d Hopper, Hedda (18 Sep 1962). "Film Work Abroad Disenchants Star: Stuart Whitman Discovers Some Unbearable Conditions". Los Angeles Times. p. D10. 
  16. ^ Hoppe, Hedda (1 Nov 1958). "Looking at Hollywood: 'Last Voyage' Waits 'til Whitman's Ready". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 17. 
  17. ^ Pryor, Thomas M (16 Aug 1958). "JOHN WAYNE SIGNS FOR CAVALRY FILM: Mahin and Rackin Scenario to Be Directed by Ford -- Star Plaques Placed". New York Times. p. 9. 
  18. ^ Hyams, Joe (27 Mar 1960). "You Can't Judge a Player by His Fan Mail". The Washington Post, Times Herald. p. G4. 
  19. ^ a b c d e Gysel, Dean (6 Sep 1967). "Whitman to Star In 'Cimarron Strip'". The Washington Post, Times Herald. p. B11. 
  20. ^ Hopper, Hedda (24 Feb 1960). "Boyd Likes Script of 'Hell Raisers': Stuart Whitman His Costar; Ford to Attend Government Meet". Los Angeles Times. p. C10. 
  21. ^ Hopper, Hedda (14 Feb 1962). "Special Ending Due for Super Western: Extra Month's Work Charted; Offers Pile Up for Whitman". Los Angeles Times. p. C11. 
  22. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (15 Feb 1963). "Dynasty in Hawaii Finds Going Rough: 'King' Heston Rides for Fall in Movie of 'Diamond Head'". Los Angeles Times. p. D13. 
  23. ^ a b Page, Don (15 Oct 1967). "WHITMAN: GOTTA HAVE HEART". Los Angeles Times. p. c6. 
  24. ^ a b "Stuart Whitman: A Class Actor". Omaha Lifestyles. 2 September 2013. 

External links[edit]