Thomas Lester Tryon
January 14, 1926
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||September 4, 1991 (aged 65)|
(m. 1955; div. 1958)
Thomas Lester Tryon (January 14, 1926 – September 4, 1991) was an American actor and novelist. As an actor, he was billed as Tom Tryon and is best known for playing the title role in the film The Cardinal (1963), featured roles in the war films The Longest Day (1962) and In Harm's Way (1965), acting with John Wayne in both movies, and especially the Walt Disney television character Texas John Slaughter (1958–1961). Tryon later turned to the writing of prose fiction and screenplays, and wrote several successful science fiction, horror and mystery novels as Thomas Tryon.
Early life and education
Thomas Tryon was born on January 14, 1926, in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Arthur Lane Tryon, a clothier and owner of Stackpole, Moore & Tryon (he is often erroneously identified as the son of silent screen actor Glenn Tryon). He served in the United States Navy in the Pacific from 1943 to 1946 during and after World War II.
Tryon appeared in The Way of the World (1955). He also guest-starred in 1955 as Antoine De More in the two-part episode "King of the Dakotas" of NBC's western anthology series Frontier.
Tryon was signed to a long-term contract to Paramount. His film debut was in The Scarlet Hour (1956) at Paramount, directed by Michael Curtiz. It was a crime drama about a man whose married lover persuades him to commit a robbery; Tryon was second billed. He was top billed in a low budget war film at Allied Artists, Screaming Eagles (1956), then supported Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter in Three Violent People (1956) at Paramount. He was announced for, but did not end up appearing in, Short Cut to Hell.
Tryon's work was mostly in TV, appearing in Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, The 20th Century-Fox Hour, Playhouse 90 (an adaptation of Charley's Aunt), Zane Grey Theater, Studio 57, Matinee Theatre, and Lux Video Theatre. He had a support role in RKO's The Unholy Wife (1957) billed after Rod Steiger and Diana Dors. He had the lead in a low budget science fiction film at Paramount, I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958). Tryon appeared in the lead in "The Mark Hanford Story" (February 26, 1958) on NBC's Wagon Train with Onslow Stevens and Kathleen Crowley. His other television roles included The Restless Gun with John Payne, General Electric Theater, The Millionaire, and The Big Valley.
Texas John Slaughter
Tryon played Texas John Slaughter in a series of TV movies for Disney which ran from 1958 to 1961. The role was based on actual historical figure John Slaughter. He was considered but eventually passed over for the role of Janet Leigh's lover, Sam Loomis, in the classic thriller Psycho (1960); the role went to John Gavin.
20th Century Fox
Tryon starred in The Story of Ruth (1960) at 20th Century Fox. For that studio he appeared in Marines, Let's Go (1961). Disney borrowed him to star in a satire about the space age, Moon Pilot (1962). He was one of many names in The Longest Day (1962) at Fox. In 1962, Tryon was cast to play the role of Stephen Burkett ("Adam") in the unfinished Marilyn Monroe-Dean Martin comedy film, Something's Got to Give, directed by George Cukor, but lost that role after Monroe was fired from the movie; the picture was remade with Doris Day and James Garner as Move Over, Darling (1963) with Chuck Connors playing Tryon's part. Tryon guest starred on Dr. Kildare and The Virginian.
Tryon's greatest role was as an ambitious Catholic priest in The Cardinal (1963). The film was a box office hit and Tryon received a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama. However, that honor barely compensated for the trauma and abuse he suffered at the hands of director Otto Preminger.
"Finally, I was in a position of being able to pick my roles," said Tryon in 1986. "But I didn't like the movie. I didn't like me in the movie. To this day, I cannot look at that film. It's because of Preminger. He was a tyrant who ruled by terror. He tied me up in knots. He screamed at me. He called me names. He said I was lazy. He said I was a fool. He never cursed me. His insults were far more personal."
Later acting career
He was part of a live television performance of The Fall of the House of Usher. He also co-wrote a song, "I Wish I Was", which appeared on an obscure record by Dick Kallman, star of the short-lived 1965 television sitcom Hank. Other television roles include episodes of The Big Valley, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, and the 1967 TV movie remake Winchester '73 in which Tryon played James Stewart's original role with a supporting cast featuring Dan Duryea, John Drew Barrymore, Joan Blondell, John Dehner and Paul Fix. Tryon went to Australia for his final screen performance as the lead in Color Me Dead (1969), a remake of the noir classic D.O.A. (1950), which had slipped into public domain.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2018)
Disillusioned with acting, Tryon retired from the profession in 1969 and began writing horror and mystery novels. He also moved into film financing, serving as executive producer of Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun (1971).
His best-known work is The Other (1971), about a boy whose evil twin brother may or may not be responsible for a series of deaths in a small rural community in the 1930s. He adapted his novel into a film released the following year that starred Diana Muldaur, Uta Hagen, and John Ritter. Harvest Home (1973), about the dark pagan rituals being practiced in a small New England town, was adapted as The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978), a television miniseries starring Bette Davis.
Tryons other books include Crowned Heads, a collection of novellas inspired by the legends of Hollywood. Tryon sold the film rights to Universal to make four films based on the novellas. The first of these novellas, Fedora, about a reclusive former film actress whose relationship with her plastic surgeon is similar to that between a drug addict and her pusher, was later converted to a feature film directed by Billy Wilder.
Other novellas in the collection were based on the murder of former silent screen star Ramón Novarro and on the complicated relationship between actor Clifton Webb and his mother. Lady (1974) concerns the friendship between an eight-year-old boy and a charming widow in 1930s New England and the secret he discovers about her. His novel The Night of the Moonbow (1989) tells the story of a boy driven to violent means by the constant harassment he receives at summer camp. Night Magic, written in 1991, was posthumously published in 1995.
In 1955, Tryon married Ann L. Noyes, the daughter of stockbroker Joseph Leo Lilienthal and his wife, the former Edna Arnstein. She was the former wife of Thomas Ewing Noyes, with whom she had been a theatrical producer. The Tryons divorced in 1958. Ann died in 1966. Tryon said that she committed suicide and that he kept a photograph of her in his apartment.
During the 1970s, he was in a romantic relationship with Clive Clerk, one of the original cast members of A Chorus Line and an interior designer who decorated Tryon's apartment on Central Park West in New York City, which was featured in Architectural Digest. From 1973 to 1977, Tryon was in a relationship with porn actor Casey Donovan.
Tryon died on September 4, 1991, at the age of 65 in Los Angeles, California. The announced cause of death was stomach cancer. Tryon's literary executor, C. Thomas Holloway, later stated Tryon's illness was related to his HIV-positive status. Tryon asked to keep this information private. When Tryon's lover Clive Clerk explained, "Tom didn't want his readers or his relatives to know," Holloway disapproved, writing, "I see it as Tom's selfish silence helped the Dark Ages [of public acceptance of HIV/AIDS] continue into the millennium."
|1956||The Scarlet Hour||E.V. "Marsh" Marshall|
|1956||Screaming Eagles||Pvt. Mason|
|1956||Three Violent People||Beauregard "Cinch" Saunders|
|1957||The Unholy Wife||San Sanders|
|1958||I Married a Monster from Outer Space||Bill Farrell|
|1960||The Story of Ruth||Mahlon|
|1961||Gundown at Sandoval||Texas John Slaughter|
|1961||Marines, Let's Go||Pfc. Skip Roth|
|1962||Moon Pilot||Capt. Richmond Talbot|
|1962||The Longest Day||Lt. Wilson|
|1962||Something's Got to Give||Stephen Burkett||Unfinished film|
|1963||The Cardinal||Stephen Fermoyle||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama|
Nominated — Laurel Award for Top Male Dramatic Performance (5th place)
|1965||In Harm's Way||Mac|
|1965||The Glory Guys||Capt. Demas Harrod|
|1968||Persecución hasta Valencia||Harry Bell|
|1969||Color Me Dead||Frank Bigelow|
|1971||Johnny Got His Gun||—||Executive producer|
|1972||The Other||—||Writer and executive producer|
|1955||The Way of the World||—||Episode dated March 28, 1955|
|1955–1957||Matinee Theater||Various roles||8 episodes|
|1955||Frontier||Antoine De More||Episodes: "King of the Dakotas: Parts 1 & 2"|
|1956–1957||Fireside Theatre||Various roles||3 episodes|
|1957||The 20th Century Fox Hour||Abe Lincoln||Episode: "Springfield Incident"|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Charley Wyckham||Episode: "Where's Charley?"|
|1957||Zane Grey Theatre||Jeff Anderson||Episode: "Black Is for Grief"|
|1957||Lux Video Theatre||Sam||Episode: "Design for November"|
|1958||Wagon Train||Mark Hanford||Episode: "The Mark Hanford Story"|
|1958||The Restless Gun||Sheriff Bill Riddle||Episode: "Sheriff Billy"|
|1958||General Electric Theater||David||Episode: "Strange Witness"|
|1958||The Millionaire||Tony Drummond||Episode: "The Tony Drummond Story"|
|1958–1961||Disneyland||Texas John Slaughter||17 episodes|
|1959||On Trial||David||Episode: "Strange Witness"|
|1962–1970||The Virginian||Various roles||4 episodes|
|1963||Dr. Kildare||Dr. William Ellis||Episode: "The Mosaic"|
|1965||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Tom Banning||Episode: "Nobody Will Ever Know"|
|1965–1967||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Various roles||2 episodes|
|1966||The Big Valley||Scott Breckenridge||Episode: "The Midas Man"|
|1967||Winchester 73||Lin McAdam||Television film|
|1967||The Road West||Sheriff Platt||Episode: "Charade of Justice"|
- The Other (Knopf, 1971) ISBN 9780394436081
- Harvest Home (Knopf, 1973) ISBN 9780394485287
- Lady (Knopf, 1974) ISBN 9780394490939
- The Night of the Moonbow (Knopf, 1989) ISBN 9780394560069
- The Wings of the Morning (Knopf, 1990) ISBN 9780394523897
- In the Fire of Spring (Knopf, 1992) ISBN 9780394585888
- The Adventures of Opal and Cupid (Viking Press, 1992) ISBN 9780670822393
- Night Magic (Simon & Schuster, 1995) ISBN 9780684803937
Short stories and novellas
- Bobbitt (1976)
- Fedora (1976)
- Lorna (1976)
- Willie (1976)
- "Tom Tryon profile". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
- "Tom Tryon-Biography". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
- "Tom Tryon". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
- Tom Tryon Wins Break With Cagney; Theater Men Plan Six Pictures Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1957, pg. A7.
- Has Gun-and How He Travels!: Tom Tryon Just Missed Some Film Plums. Now He's Happy as a Hard-Ridin TV Sheriff Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune, November 2, 1958, pg. f28.
- "BEHIND THE CAMERA - PSYCHO". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
- Green, Paul (2014). A History of Television's The Virginian, 1962-1971. Jefferson NC: McFarland. p. 26. ISBN 9780786457991. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
- THE FLAMBOYANT TOM TRYON Christy, Marian. Boston Globe 2 Nov 1986: C25.
- Mary Murphy. "Four-Film Deal for Tryon Novel", Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1976, pg. e12.
- Joshi, Sunand T. (2001). The modern weird tale. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-0986-0.
- Everett Aaker, Television Western Players of the Fifties (McFarland, 1997), page 506
- "Miss Lilienthal, Pensacola Bride", The New York Times, December 20, 1944.
- "Noyes, Ann L.", The New York Times, November 24, 1966.
- "Actor Tom Tryon Does a Hollywood Fadeout—and a Best-Selling Author Takes His Place". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
- Edmonson, Roger (1998). Boy in the Sand — Casey Donovan, All-American Sex Star. Los Angeles, California: Alyson Books. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-555-83457-9.
- "Author, actor Thomas Tryon dies of stomach cancer". Boca Raton News. Boca Raton, Florida. Associated Press. September 5, 1991. p. 4A. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Holloway, C. Robert, Dangerous Crossing: Memoir of a Fateful Trip (Holloway, 2013), page 88