Todd Armstrong

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Todd Armstrong
Todd Armstrong (actor).jpg
In Jason and the Argonauts, 1963
Born John Harris Armstrong
(1937-07-25)July 25, 1937
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died November 17, 1992(1992-11-17) (aged 55)
Butte, California, U.S.
Cause of death Suicide
Occupation Actor
Years active 1961–1982
Known for Jason and the Argonauts

Todd Armstrong (July 25, 1937 – November 17, 1992) was an American actor in ten films and several television series.

He is probably best known for playing the titular role of Jason in the film Jason and the Argonauts (1963). He had also starred, during 1961, in the later segments of the syndicated crime drama Manhunt.

Early life and education[edit]

Todd Armstrong was born John Harris Armstrong[1] in St. Louis, Missouri on July 25, 1937. His parents were Louise Armstrong (maiden name, McClelland) and Harris Armstrong (born 1899). Armstrong’s father was born in St. Louis (Missouri). He was a well-known architect that designed many civil landmarks in St. Louis, such as The Shanley Building at 7800 Maryland Avenue in Clayton. Its design won Armstrong the silver medal at the Paris Exposition of 1937.

In 1956, Armstrong graduated from Ladue High School, where one of his classmates was Auggie Busch, a great-grandson of Anheuser-Busch brewing magnate Adolphus Busch. He moved to California and trained drama at the prestigious acting school Pasadena Playhouse College of Theatre Arts, where he changed his first name to Todd. He graduated in 1958 with classmates including Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman. [2]

Career[edit]

Armstrong´s well-to-do parents supported him financially but after struggling a few years with no success landing acting roles, he took part time work as a landscape gardener. During his time as a landscaper he was discovered by actress Gloria Henry, who played the mother on the Dennis the Menace television series. Henry learned of her gardener's acting aspirations and was dazzled enough by Armstrongs’s good looks to arrange for him to get a screen test at Columbia Pictures, where she was under contract.

Todd landed a supporting role in the third season of the popular TV show Manhunt, playing Det. Carl Spencer in 13 episodes in the 1961 season. In 1962 Armstrong made his big-screen debut with a small role in director Edward Dmytryk’s drama Walk on the Wild Side (where he was credited as Todd Anderson). The movie starred Jane Fonda. For his second film, the Daniel Mann-directed drama Five Finger Exercise, Todd changed his name back to Armstrong.

Todd Armstrong's secured his first starring role in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). The film was an adaption of Apollonius Rhodius Greek poem Argonautica, a myth of the Greek hero Jason, a fearless sailor and explorer who returns to the Kingdom of Thessaly after a 20-year voyage to make his rightful claim to the throne. But to do so, he must first select a crew and with the help of Hera, queen of the gods, he sets sails in search for the fleece. The argonauts must overcome incredible obstacles including the 33-meter bronze giant Talos, the Harpies - winged demon creatures, the Hydra - a giant creature with the head of seven snakes and an army of animated skeletons.

The films stellar cast included, Gary Raymond, Honor Blackman, Jack Gwillim and Nigel Green. However, the real stars of the movie was the stop-motion animation work of special effect wizard Ray Harryhausen. Bernard Herrmann wrote a terrific score. [3]

Todd Armstrong voice was dubbed by British actor Tim Turner, since most of the rest of the cast were British. He had only one additional leading role, in the World War II film King Rat (1965), directed by Bryan Forbes; his later work consisted of supporting parts in films and guest work on television work. [4]

Death[edit]

On November 17, 1992, Armstrong committed suicide by gunshot at his home in Butte City, California. He had suffered from terrible depression due to a work-related injury he sustained, building an addiction to painkillers. He was 55. [5]

Filmography[edit]

Armstrong appeared in the following film and television roles:[6]

- "9:12 to Dodge" (1968) television episode (as Johnny August)
- "The First People" (1968) television episode (as John Eagle Wing)
  • Nakia (1 television episode, 1974)
  • Hawaii Five-O as Curt Anderson (1 TV episode, 1975)
    a.k.a. McGarrett (USA: rerun title)
- "Target? the Lady" (1975) television episode (as Curt Anderson)
  • The Greatest American Hero as Ted McSherry (1 TV episode, 1982)
  • Shackleton (1982) (TV) as Raymond Shackleton
    a.k.a. Icebound in the Antarctic (USA) (final television appearance)

References[edit]

External links[edit]