Every once in awhile we highlight a star from the Golden Era of Hollywood who has been almost totally forgotten by today’s audiences.
From 1937 to the mid Forties one of the brightest stars in Hollywood was the man — Jon Hall — pictured above with Dorothy Lamour. (They are the sexy costars of director John Ford’s 1937 extravaganza for producer Sam Goldwyn, The Hurricane.)
Hall seemed to specialize in acting with his shirt off. At one point, Universal considered him for the role of Flash Gordon, which went to ex-swimmer Buster Crabbe.
California-born in 1915 (in Fresno), Hall was the son of Swiss-born actor Felix Locher and his Tahitian princess wife. He started his career in 1935 under his actual name of Charles Locher.
He also was the nephew of James Norman Hall, who wrote the book which became The Hurricane’s source material. (Hall also wrote the novel, Mutiny on the Bounty.) And, the actor was cinematographer Conrad Hall’s cousin.
Jon Hall had a glowing youthful handsomeness — he reminds Frank of an early Tab Hunter.
He wore his wholesome good looks especially well in the six movies he made opposite Maria Montez, the Queen of several Universal’s splashy Technicolor fasties set in exotic locals and prominently placing the so-called “Carribean Cyclone” (Montez hailed from the Dominican Republic) in various state of dishabille.
Interestingly, both Hall and Montez met their offscreen ends in remarkable ways. After suffering a heart attack while taking a bath in her suburban Paris home in 1951, Montez drowned. She was only 39. Hall lived longer, dying at age 64 in 1979 after shooting himself in the head. He was suffering from bladder cancer at the time.
Hall was married at various times to two show-biz-related women: singer-actress Frances Langford and Mexican-born actress Raquel Torres. Towards the end of his life, Hall reportedly said that he never really liked acting. “It’s a bore,” he declared.
Nonetheless, Hall had a fairly long career — nearly 50 movie and tv credits over a 30-year span — and made an impression on television after his big-screen career cratered. Some may remember him as the creator and star of the Ramar of the Jungle tube series, which ran from 1952 to 1954. But we aren’t counting on it.