42 (passed away May. 27th, 1969)
Nov. 25th, 1926
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Jeffrey Hunter's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1967 - A Guide for the Married Man
1965 - Brainstorm
1962 - The Longest Day
1961 - King of Kings
1960 - Hell to Eternity
1960 - Sergeant Rutledge
1956 - The Searchers
1951 - The Frogmen
Guest TV Roles
Capt. Walter Reed
Jeffrey Hunter (born in Louisiana as Henry Herman McKinnies Jr.) was an only child. His parents met at the University of Arkansas, and when he was almost four his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In his teens he acted in productions of the North Shore Children's Theater, and from 1942 to 1944 performed in summer stock with the local Port Players, along with Eileen Heckart, Charlotte Rae and Morton DaCosta, and was a radio actor at WTMJ, getting his first professional paycheck in 1945 for the wartime series "Those Who Serve". After graduation from Whitefish Bay High School, where he was co-captain of the football team, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and underwent training at Great Lakes Naval Station, Illinois, in 1945-1946. On the eve of his transfer to duty in Japan, however, he took ill and received a medical discharge from the service. He attended Northwestern University in Illinois and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1949, where he acquired more stage experience in Sheridan's "The Rivals" and Ruth Gordon (I)'s "Years Ago". He also did summer stock with Northwestern students at Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, in 1948, worked on two Northwestern Radio Playshop broadcasts, was president of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and was active in the campus film society with David Bradley (I), later acting in Bradley's production of Julius Caesar (1950) in 1949. Hunter went to graduate school at the University of Califiornia, Los Angeles, where he studied radio and drama. He was in the cast of a UCLA production of "All My Sons" in May 1950, and on opening night talent scouts for Paramount and 20th Century-Fox in the audience zeroed in on the tall, blue-eyed and impossibly good-looking Hunter. He made a screen test with Ed Begley (I) in a scene from "All My Sons" at Paramount (where he met Barbara Rush, his future wife), but after an executive shake-up at that studio derailed his hiring, he was signed by 20th Century-Fox (where he remained under contract to 1959) and almost immediately sent on location in New York for Fourteen Hours (1951), all before the month was over. Hunter was kept fairly busy in pictures, working his way from featured roles to starring roles to first billing within two years in Single-Handed (1953). His big break came with The Searchers (1956), where he played the young cowboy who accompanies John Wayne (I) on his search for a child kidnapped by Comanches. Hunter got excellent reviews for his performance in this film and justifiably so, as he held his own well with the veteran Wayne. Starring roles in two more John Ford movies followed, and in 1960 Hunter had one of his best roles in Hell to Eternity (1960), the true story of World War II hero Guy Gabaldon. That same year Hunter landed the role for which he is probably best known (although it's far from his best work) when he played the Son of God in King of Kings (1961), which, due to Hunter's still youthful looks, was dubbed by some Hollywood wags "I Was a Teenage Jesus," although he was 33 when he was cast. After the cancellation of his television western series "Temple Houston" (1963) in 1964 and his decision not to continue in the lead role of the new series "Star Trek" (1966) in 1965, his career took a downturn, and Hunter eventually wound up in Europe working on cheap westerns, at the time a sure sign of a career in trouble. In 1969 Hunter suffered a stroke (after just recovering from an earlier stroke), took a bad fall and underwent emergency surgery, but died from complications of both the fall and the surgery.
- Although in studio publicity Hunter claimed to be a descendant of Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States, he was not a direct descendant, although he may have been a collateral descendant, through his father's maternal grandmother, from the Taylors of Virginia.
- While playing Jesus in _King of Kings (1961)_ (qv), his armpits were shaved for the crucifixion scenes
- Son with 'Barbara Rush' (qv), Christopher (b. 29 August 1952).
- Following in the footsteps of fellow heartthrob turned hit crooner 'Tab Hunter (I)' (qv), he recorded a never-released album of love songs for Parade Records in 1957, some of which he wrote, including "Dusty", dedicated to his new wife.
- Starred in unsold, unshown NBC series pilot "Journey Into Fear" in 1966. Based on same 'Eric Ambler' (qv) novel as the 1942 movie with 'Orson Welles' (qv).
- He desperately lobbied to be cast as Mike Brady for the TV series _"The Brady Bunch" (1969)_ (qv). Producer 'Sherwood Schwartz' (qv) would not consider him, as he thought Hunter was "too good-looking to be an architect." Ironically, Hunter died just months before the show premiered in 1969.
- Under contract to Warner Bros., 1963-1965.
- Cast as Christopher Pike, captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, in the original "Star Trek" pilot in 1964. However, when an undecided NBC requested a second pilot in early 1965, Hunter declined, having decided to concentrate on his movie career instead. Producer Gene Roddenberry, after hearing the news, wrote to Hunter, "I am told you have decided not to go ahead with Star Trek. This has to be your own decision, of course, and I must respect it," and then asked Hunter if he would come back for "one day or two of shooting an additional action opening which can result in a fast, tightly cut, exciting film release." But Hunter, who had a six-month exclusive contract for the series lead, declined that request too. Footage from the first pilot was later incorporated into a two-part episode in Star Trek's first season. (Roddenberry later tried to give the impression that it was he who decided not to rehire Hunter for the second pilot. But as executive producer Herbert F. Solow pointed out, major casting decisions for the series were made by Desilu and NBC executives, not the producer.)
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