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.
We found a review of Rory’s performance on Internet Movie Data Base. Rory Calhoun is woefully out of place, his hairstyle wildly anachronistic (full of that greasy kid stuff), he grins idiotically at inappropriate moments and gives his inane dialogue all the gusto it deserves.
Oh, well, let’s get on with our Rory Calhoun Quiz and see how much you know about this — in our view — underrated actor. To review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
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. At least that we know of.
2) Answer: 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) Answer: Calhoun was NOT in the cast of c) 1955’s East of Eden, the vehicle that launched James Dean.
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 being outed. When a 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 angle. The subsequent disclosures about Rory’s less than admirable past actually helped reinforce his career his bad boy image.
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.