Well, how much did you know about the star of countless westerns, police procedurals, action-adventure items and, yes, even a European sword and sandal epic? This last is worth special comment.
It was in the early Sixties when our man Rory Calhoun’s Hollywood movie career was running out of steam, and like many of his movie contemporaries he departed for Europe, specifically to Italy and Spain to star in something called The Colossus of Rhodes (Il Colosso de Rodi).
What’s interesting is the name of the movie’s first time director: Sergio Leone.
Ok, let’s get on with our Rory Calhoun Quiz and see how much you really did know about this — in our view — underrated actor. Here we go:
1) Question: As a youth Calhoun famously got himself into a pot of trouble with the police. Which of the following did NOT get him into hot water? a) Stealing a car; b) Robbing jewelry stores; c) Stealing a pistol; or d) Violating the Mann Act.
1) Answer: The youthful Calhoun was a pack of trouble, accomplished at ALL of the options with the exception of (d) violating the Mann Act, otherwise know as the white slavery traffic act.
2) Question: Who gave the actor his marquee name? Hint: this guy was also connected to Rock Hudson, Guy Madison (Calhoun’s good friend), Tab Hunter and Troy Donahue.
2) Answer: As mentioned, Rory was born Francis Timothy Cuthbert in Los Angeles in 1922 (he died in 1999). Some reports have it that none other than David Selznick came up with his marquee name. Our money, however, is on his agent, Henry Willson, who had renamed several of his clients including Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter. Willson supposedly first endowed Calhoun with “Troy Donahue,” but decided instead to save that name for a subsequent client (born Merle Johnson Jr.)
3) Question: Which of these movies did NOT include Calhoun in the cast? a) 1953’s How To Marry A Millionaire; b) 1954’s River of No Return; c) 1955’s East of Eden; or d) 1952’s With A Song In My Heart.
3) Answer: Calhoun was NOT in the cast of c) 1955’s East of Eden, the vehicle that launched James Dean.
4) Question: Calhoun at one point in his career found himself embroiled in the effort to hide the homosexuality of Rock Hudson. How did this happen?
4) Answer: As mentioned, Calhoun’s agent was Henry Willson, who was gay. His biggest client prize was Hudson, and Willson went to great lengths to prevent the actor from having his career ruined by being outed. When the Confidential scandal magazine began sniffing around Hudson’s personal life in the mid-Fifties, Willson supposedly bargained information about Calhoun’s jailbird past in exchange for dropping the Hudson sizzler. The subsequent disclosures about Rory’s less than admirable past actually helped reinforce his career his bad boy image.
5) Question: Calhoun as TWO stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. One is for movies. What’s the other star for?
5) Answer: The other star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is for Calhoun’s tv work, which is extensive and comprises just about any successful tv series from the late Fifties through the late Nineties. He is perhaps best remembered as playing Bill Longley in The Texan series on CBS from 1958 to 1960. Rory’s character was an ex-Confederate officer who becomes a “Robin Hood of the West.” The series was a hit but didn’t continue because Calhoun wanted to return to his first love, the movies.