Born Henry McKinnies in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 25, 1926, screen idol Jeffrey Hunter nursed early ambitions to be an actor. Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the mid 1940s Hunter had done quite a bit of local radio work and community theater. Hunter enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school, and after his discharge in 1946, he attended Northwestern University. After graduating in 1949, he appeared in David Bradley's 16mm production of Julius Caesar, filmed in Chicago. Hunter soon left Chicago to enter graduate school at UCLA. He was discovered on the opening night of a UCLA production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons in May 1950, and signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox that same month. Just a few months later, Hunter met gorgeous actress Barbara Rush, and the couple married in December 1950.

Jeffrey Hunter and Barbara RushJeffrey Hunter and Sally Ann Howes

LEFT: Hunter with first wife Barbara Rush in the early 1950s. RIGHT: Hunter was briefly engaged to actress Sally Ann Howes in 1968

Throughout Hunter's career, he was often cast in war films and westerns, at which he excelled. Careerwise, he hit is stride in the mid 1950s, starring in five big pictures including the westerns The Searchers (1956; with John Wayne), The Proud Ones (1956; with Robert Ryan), and Gun for a Coward (1957; with Fred MacMurray). Hunter also starred in Disney's The Great Locomotive Chase (1956; with Fess Parker and John Lupton) and the United Artists thriller A Kiss Before Dying (1956; with Robert Wagner and Virginia Leith).

Jeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey Hunter

Early in his film career, 20th Century Fox served up many beefcake photos of Jeffrey Hunter. The far right image includes fellow 20th Century Fox contract player Robert Wagner

Upon leaving Fox in 1958, Hunter freelanced in many films at a variety of studios, including the Warner Bros. western Sergeant Rutledge (1960; with Constance Towers), the Allied Artists picture Hell to Eternity (1960; with David Janssen, and MGM's Key Witness (1960; with Dennis Hopper). Hunter starred as Jesus Christ in perhaps the biggest picture of his career, MGM's epic King of Kings (1961; with Viveca Lindfors). Inexplicably, Hunter's fortunes in Hollywood began to erode in the early 1960s. He began making films in Europe, as many other actors such as Lex Barker and Guy Madison had done. One of his earliest was the 1963 French/Italian co-production Gold for the Caesars.

the films of jeffrey hunter

Fourteen Hours (1951)

Jeffrey Hunter and Debra PagetJeffrey Hunter

At Fox, Hunter was often paired with beautiful Debra Paget, with whom he acted in five films. These photos are from the thriller Fourteen Hours

Belles on Their Toes (1952)

Jeffrey Hunter

With Jeanne Crain in Belles on Their Toes

Princess of the Nile (1954)

Jeffrey Hunter and Debra Paget

With Debra Paget in the 20th Century Fox release Princess of the Nile

Seven Cities of Gold (1955)

Jeffrey Hunter

Hunter as Matuwir in Seven Cities of Gold

The Proud Ones (1956)

Jeffrey HunterJeffrey Hunter

LEFT: Behind-the-scenes photo of Jeffrey Hunter on the set. RIGHT: With Virginia Mayo and Robert Ryan

The Searchers (1956)

Jeffrey HunterJeffrey Hunter and Vera Miles

From the Warner Bros. western The Searchers. LEFT: With Natalie Wood. RIGHT: With Vera Miles

Gun for a Coward (1957)

Jeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey Hunter

From the Universal-International western Gun for a Coward with Fred MacMurray

Count Five and Die (1958)

Jeffrey Hunter

From the British-made 20th Century Fox war picture Count Five and Die

Sergeant Rutledge (1960)

Jeffrey HunterWoody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter, and Constance Towers

LEFT: From the John Ford western Sergeant Rutledge, released by Warner Bros. RIGHT: With Woody Strode and Constance Towers

Man-Trap (1961)

Jeffrey Hunter and Stella Stevens

Stella Stevens portrays Hunter's faithless alcoholic wife in Paramount's Man-Trap

King of Kings (1961)

Jeffrey Hunter

As Jesus Christ in the big-budget epic King of Kings

Gold for the Caesars (1963)

Jeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey Hunter

Stills from the Italian film Gold for the Caesars, released by MGM

Temple Houston (1963-1964 NBC TV series)

Jeffrey HunterJeffrey HunterJeffrey Hunter

LEFT: From The Man From Galveston with Kevin Hagen. CENTER: Promotional still from Temple Houston. RIGHT: On the set with actress Bea Ballance

Brainstorm (1965)

Jeffrey Hunter and Anne Francis

With Anne Francis in the Warner Bros. feature Brainstorm

Murieta (1965)

Jeffrey Hunter and Arthur Kennedy

From the Spanish production Murieta with Arthur Kennedy

Star Trek: The Cage (1965)

Jeffrey Hunter

From the Star Trek pilot The Cage. Hunter portrayed Captain Pike. Also pictured is Leonard Nimoy

The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968)

Jeffrey Hunter

LEFT: From the United Artists war comedy The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell, which also starred Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller

later years

In 1963 Hunter signed a two-year contract with Warner Bros., where he starred in the TV series Temple Houston. About 30 episodes of the hour-long western were filmed before the series was canceled in 1964. Hunter's 1963 film The Man From Galveston was originally the pilot episode of Temple Houston. And in late 1964, Hunter starred in Star Trek: The Cage, the first pilot episode for the NBC series Star Trek. The completed pilot never aired (at least not until 1988), because NBC rejected the pilot and ordered a new one. Hunter opted out of the second pilot and returned to Europe and Asia to act in such films as A Witch Without a Broom (1967; with Maria Perschy) and Find a Place to Die (1968).

Barbara Rush and Hunter parted ways in 1955. Hunter remarried in 1957 and divorced again ten years later. After an engagement to actress Sally Ann Howes, Hunter married actress Emily McLaughlin in February 1969 following a whirlwind courtship. (McLaughlin is best known for her role as Nurse Jessie Brewer on the ABC-TV soap General Hospital from 1963 through 1991.) Sadly, Hunter passed away from a massive stroke after falling and fracturing his skull on May 27, 1969, at the age of 42. He was survived by his third wife, Emily McLaughlin (1930-1991), and four sons.

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Viva America! (1969) with Margaret Lee
Super Colt 38 (1969) with Pedro Armendariz Jr.
Sexy Susan Sins Again (1968) with Harald Leipnitz
Find a Place to Die (1968)
The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968) with Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Gina Lollobrigida, William Wellman Jr., and Dick Sargent
A Witch Without a Broom (1967)
The Christmas Kid (1967) with Louis Hayward
Custer of the West (1967) with Ty Hardin, Robert Shaw, Lawrence Tierney, Robert Ryan, and Kieron Moore
A Guide for the Married Man (1967) with Walter Matthau, Inger Stevens, Sue Ane Langdon, and Robert Morse
Dimension 5 (1966) with France Nuyen and Harold Sakata
Strange Portrait (1966) never released; now a lost film
Murieta (1965) with Arthur Kennedy
Star Trek (1965) TV series pilot
Brainstorm (1965) with Anne Francis, Dana Andrews, and Viveca Lindfors
Gold for the Caesars (1963)
The Man From Galveston (1963) with Preston Foster, Joanna Moore, and James Coburn
The Longest Day (1962) with Richard Burton, John Wayne, Sean Connery, and Ray Danton
No Man Is an Island (1962) with Marshall Thompson
King of Kings (1961) with Viveca Lindfors, Rip Torn, and Robert Ryan
Man-Trap (1961) with Stella Stevens and David Janssen
Hell to Eternity (1960) with David Janssen and Bill Williams
Key Witness (1960) with Dennis Hopper and Pat Crowley
Sergeant Rutledge (1960) with Constance Towers and Woody Strode
Count Five and Die (1958) with Nigel Patrick
In Love and War (1958) with Robert Wagner, Bradford Dillman, and Dana Wynter
The Last Hurrah (1958) with Spencer Tracy, Ricardo Cortez, Basil Rathbone, and John Carradine
No Down Payment (1957) with Tony Randall, Sheree North, Joanne Woodward, Cameron Mitchell, and Barbara Rush
The True Story of Jesse James (1957) with Robert Wagner, Hope Lange, and Agnes Moorehead
The Way to the Gold (1957) with Sheree North, Barry Sullivan, and Walter Brennan
Gun for a Coward (1957) with Fred MacMurray, Janice Rule, Betty Lynn, and Chill Wills
The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) with Fess Parker, John Lupton, and George Robotham
A Kiss Before Dying (1956) with Robert Wagner, Virginia Leith, Joanne Woodward, and Mary Astor
The Proud Ones (1956) with Virginia Mayo, Robert Ryan, Ken Clark, Whit Bissell, and Edward Platt
The Searchers (1956) with John Wayne, Vera Miles, and Natalie Wood
Seven Angry Men (1955) with Raymond Massey, Debra Paget, and Guy Williams
Seven Cities of Gold (1955) with Richard Egan, Anthony Quinn, Michael Rennie, and Rita Moreno
White Feather (1955) with Robert Wagner, Debra Paget, and Virginia Leith
Princess of the Nile (1954) with Debra Paget, Michael Rennie, Lee Van Cleef, and Merry Anders
Three Young Texans (1954) with Keefe Brasselle and Mitzi Gaynor
Single-Handed (1953) with Michael Rennie and Bernard Lee
Belles on Their Toes (1952) with Jeanne Crain, Debra Paget, Myrna Loy, Merry Anders, and Martin Milner
Dreamboat (1952) with Anne Francis, Ginger Rogers, Clifton Webb, Elsa Lanchester, and Ray Collins
Lure of the Wilderness (1952) with Jean Peters and Walter Brennan
Red Skies of Montana (1952) with Richard Widmark, Richard Boone, and Warren Stevens
Fourteen Hours (1951) with Richard Basehart, Debra Paget, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Agnes Moorehead, Martin Gabel, and Grace Kelly
The Frogmen (1951) with Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews, Warren Stevens, Gary Merrill, Harvey Lembeck, Robert Wagner, and Robert Rockwell
Take Care of My Little Girl (1951) with Dale Robertson, Jeanne Crain, Betty Lynn, Mitzi Gaynor, and Jean Peters
Call Me Mister (1951) with Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, Dale Robertson, and Danny Thomas
Julius Caesar (1950)

Temple Houston, 1963-1964 NBC TV series. Hunter portrayed the title character

Insight, episode The Poker Game, originally aired March 2, 1969
The F.B.I., episode The Enemies, originally aired November 3, 1968
Insight, episode Madam, originally aired May 13, 1967
The Monroes, episode Wild Bull, originally aired February 15, 1967
The Green Hornet, episode Freeway to Death, originally aired December 16, 1966
Daniel Boone, episode Requiem for Craw Green, originally aired December 1, 1966
The Legend of Jesse James, episode A Field of Wild Flowers, originally aired April 25, 1966
Journey Into Fear, episode Seller's Market, originally aired 1966
The F.B.I., episode The Monster, originally aired September 16, 1965
Kraft Suspense Theatre, episode The Trains of Silence, originally aired June 10, 1965
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, episode Parties to the Crime, originally aired November 27, 1964
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, episode Seven Miles of Bad Road, originally aired October 18, 1963
Combat!, episode Lost Sheep, Lost Shepherd, originally aired October 16, 1962
Death Valley Days, episode Suzie, originally aired October 3, 1962
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, episode Don't Look Behind You, originally aired September 27, 1962
Checkmate, episode Waiting for Jocko, originally aired October 25, 1961
Pursuit, episode Kiss Me Again, Stranger, originally aired November 19, 1958
Climax!, episode Hurricane Diane, originally aired December 12, 1957
The 20th Century-Fox Hour, episode The Empty Room, originally aired May 30, 1956
Climax!, episode South of the Sun, originally aired March 3, 1955

jeffrey hunter links

A Tribute to Jeffrey Hunter
This is a great site devoted to Jeffrey Hunter and his films. look for biographical information, a filmography, and plot synopses. Also, you'll find extensive photo galleries containing more than 100 photos from the webmaster's private collection. A great site for all Jeffrey Hunter fans!

jeffrey hunter now showing

Watch Jeffrey Hunter in a 1955 episode of The George Gobel Show
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This page premiered July 14, 2000.
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