Stuart Whitman

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Stuart Whitman
Stuart Whitman in The Longest Day (publicity still).jpg
Whitman in The Longest Day (1962)
Stuart Maxwell Whitman

(1928-02-01)February 1, 1928
DiedMarch 16, 2020(2020-03-16) (aged 92)
Years active1940–2000
Patricia LaLonde
(m. 1952; div. 1966)

Caroline Boubis
(m. 1966; div. 1974)

Julia Vadimovna Paradiz (m. 2006)

Stuart Maxwell Whitman (February 1, 1928 – March 16, 2020) was an American film and television actor, known for his lengthy career in both media. Whitman played major roles in a large variety of genres. Some of these credits include the dramatic The Mark for which he was nominated for best actor at the Academy Awards, the Western film The Comancheros (1961) with John Wayne, the lavish aviation comedy Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), or the horror film Night of the Lepus (1972). On television, Whitman is known for roles in Highway Patrol (1955–1957), the 90-minute weekly Western Cimarron Strip (1967), and Superboy (1988–1992). Whitman was born in San Francisco, and raised in New York until the age of twelve. His family relocated to Los Angeles. Whitman finished high school in 1945 and was honorably discharged from the Corps of Engineers in the United States Army in 1948. Afterwards, Whitman started studying acting and appearing in plays and had bit roles in the films Rudolph Maté's When Worlds Collide and Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still (both 1951). Until 1957, Whitman had a streak working in mostly bit parts in films directed by leading directors. On television Whitman guest starred in series such as Dr. Christian, The Roy Rogers Show, Death Valley Days and also had a recurring role on Highway Patrol. This led Whitman to play the role in John H. Auer's Johnny Trouble starring Ethel Barrymore.

In the late 1950s, 20th Century Fox was on a drive to develop new talent. Head of production Buddy Adler chose Whitman to be one of the new names signed to Fox as part of a $3–4 million star-building program. For the next couple of years Whitman continued working with prominent directors, but in the lead cast. These are William A. Wellman's Darby's Rangers (1958) with James Garner, Frank Borzage's China Doll (1958), Philip Dunne's Ten North Frederick (1958), Andrew L. Stone's The Decks Ran Red (1958), Don Siegel's Hound-Dog Man (1959), Richard Fleischer's These Thousand Hills (1959), Henry Koster's The Story of Ruth (1960), Stuart Rosenberg's directorial credit shared with Burt Balagan for Murder, Inc. with Peter Falk, Michael Curtiz's The Comancheros (1961), and Guy Green's The Mark (1961) for which he was nominated for Best Actor.

Whitman, now an established actor, continued appearing in both film and television from 1962 to 1972. His films were met with variable degrees of success, the standout roles of that era were the all-star World War II epic The Longest Day (1962), René Clément's The Day and the Hour (1962), and Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965). The latter was a British period comedy film about a race in the early days of aviation, released theatrically on 70 mm, and it was a success at the box office. Whitman took the lead role in the western series Cimarron Strip which first aired in 1967. The show, which had a major production budget and proved costly in light of its ratings, was not renewed. In 1972, Whitman acted in the horror film Night of the Lepus. According to Whitman, the poor quality of the film put a dent in his reputation. From that point to 1987, Whitman would regularly appear on the major television shows of that time period, some of these include The Streets of San Francisco, Love, American Style, Quincy, M.E., The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Knight Rider, Matt Houston, among many others. He acted in several episodes of the A-Team, S.W.A.T., Fantasy Island, and Murder, She Wrote. He appeared in television-films and mini-series such as The Pirate, Condominium, Once Upon a Texas Train, etc. During this time he appeared in many genre films including Fred Williamson's Mean Johnny Barrows, Jonathan Demme's Crazy Mama, and several collaborations with director René Cardona Jr.. In 1988, he was featured on Superboy, the comic book adaptation, which lasted until 1992. Until the very end, Whitman played Jonathan Kent, the superhero's adoptive father. In 1990, he was seen playing a recurring role in Knots Landing. During this time, he acted twice in two hour western specials . First was the 1993 debut of Bruce Campbell's The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. The second, in 1994, was Chuck Norris' Walker, Texas Ranger episode The Reunion. He was seen in several television films and series as well as the big screen for other projects until the year 2000, but was reported to be retired from acting after that.

Early life

Stuart Maxwell Whitman was born on February 1, 1928, in San Francisco, California, the elder of two sons of Cecilia (née Gold) and Joseph Whitman. His family was Jewish.[1][2] In the 1950s, Whitman described himself to Hedda Hopper as "a real American – have a little bit of English, Irish, Scotch and Russian – so I get along with everyone."[3]

Career and education

1933 to 1948: Early education and military service

Whitman was interested in acting from the age of five. His father at the time was working as a ticket collector at Tammany Hall, and he would sometimes be allowed to watch plays.[4][5][6][7][8] His parents had married in their teens and traveled frequently during his childhood – his father became a lawyer who moved into property development. Whitman started his education in New York, in Manhattan and Poughkeepsie.[9][10] "I went to so many schools—26 in all!—that I was always an outsider," he later recalled. "It wasn't until high school that I could really read . . . I always sat in the back of the room."[11] Whitman's early love for acting came through when he did three summer stock plays in New York when he was 12, but "nobody took that seriously," he said.[3]

His uncle Ben thought he had potential as a boxer and secretly trained him for that.[12] When World War II broke out, Joseph Whitman moved to Los Angeles to run oil-cracking plants for the government. His family settled in Los Angeles and Whitman graduated from Hollywood High School in 1945.

After school, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Corps of Engineers for three years at Fort Lewis, Washington. During this time, he occasionally boxed, winning 31 of his 32 bouts. Whitman was a lightweight boxer for the army during his tenure.[11] The fight he was most known for was one where he had a difficult time with US Army fighter "Denny Dennison" (né Archibald Dennison Scott III) with whom he had had bouts at Hollywood High School. Denny, who had gone into active duty in January, 1944, after five months of the delayed-entry program, had beaten his third opponent, who was considered his toughest matchup. Whitman was honorably discharged in 1948, while his close friend, Scott, went on to officer candidate school the following year, ending his service with the rank of colonel.[3]

1949 to 1959: Acting studies, early roles and first leads

He originally intended to follow his father into law and used the G.I. Bill to enroll in Los Angeles City College. He minored in drama. During his first year, he "figured that law was a real bore"[9] and began to develop ambitions to be an actor.

"I reached a point where I said, 'What are you going to do with your life? You got to get something going.'" he said. "I decided I wanted to spend most of my time on me. So I decided to develop me and educate me."[4] "My father wanted me to join his law firm and dabble in real estate on the side," recalled Whitman. "There was a family row about boxing, but nothing like the battle when I told my father I was going to be an actor. He said, 'If that's the case you're on your own.' No money from him. And he kept his word."[3]

His father did sell Whitman a bulldozer which his son used to support himself in college. Whitman would hire it (and himself) out to others to clear lots, uproot trees, and level off rugged terrain.[3] This work earned him up to $100 a day. His father and he later went into real estate development together, purchasing various lots in and around Los Angeles.[12]

Whitman joined the Michael Chekhov Stage Society and studied with them at night for four years. He was considering a career in professional football, but injured his leg at college, which put an end to that dream. He joined the Ben Bard Drama School in Hollywood. He debuted in the school's production of Here Comes Mr Jordan, which ran for six months.[citation needed]

Whitman was spotted by a talent scout while at City College. He made his screen debut, credited as Kip Whitman in a bit part in Rudolph Maté's When Worlds Collide, which was released in November 1951.[13] He followed this with another small part, using the same pseudonym, in Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still, released in September of that same year.[14]

In 1952, Whitman continued playing small roles starting with George Archainbaud's Barbed Wire released in July,[15] and Tay Garnett's One Minute to Zero, released in August.[16] In December, 1952, he signed a contract with Universal, which put him in Douglas Sirk's All I Desire, released in July, 1953, and Jesse Hibbs's The All American, released in October.[17][18][19]

Whitman was still cast in small parts in features premiering in 1953. This began with Budd Boetticher's The Man from the Alamo, released in August.[20] Following this was Jacques Tourneur's Appointment in Honduras, which premiered on October 16.[21] The next was George Sherman's The Veils of Bagdad, in November.[22] Finally, Lloyd Bacon's Walking My Baby Back Home, started its theatrical run in December.[23]

In 1954, Whitman continued to be seen in minor film roles. First was Charles Vidor's Rhapsody at MGM, on April 16.[24] On May 14, it was Andrew Marton's Prisoner of War,[25] followed in June by Allan Dwan's Silver Lode.[26] On July 25, it was Lesley Selander's Return from the Sea.[27] Premiering on October 6 was Passion.[28] He then appeared in Brigadoon, on October 22.[29] He starred on stage in Venus Observed by Christopher Fry for the Coast Theatre in 1954.[30] On television, Whitman acted in episodes of Dr. Christian, The Roy Rogers Show, and Death Valley Days.[citation needed]

On the first of July, 1955, Whitman appeared as a man on the beach in Curtis Bernhardt's Interrupted Melody. Also that year, Whitman had a minor role in the serial King of the Carnival.[citation needed]

In 1956, Whitman continued with the same types of roles starting with Allan Dwan's Hold Back the Night on July 29,[31] followed by Budd Boetticher's Seven Men from Now on August 4.[32] Another acting credit was the Republic's serial called Diane.[citation needed]

In 1957, Whitman's film roles gradually grew in size with the following films: Gerd Oswald's Crime of Passion which opened in February,[33] and the release of Reginald Le Borg's War Drums in April.[34] On September 21, Whitman had his first leading role in John H. Auer's Johnny Trouble, produced by John Carroll, who had Whitman under contract for one film a year for seven years; the Los Angeles Times said he "reminds of both Robert Ryan and James Dean."[35][36] In October, he appeared in two releases Hell Bound, and Howard W. Koch's The Girl in Black Stockings.[37][38] On November 30, it was Gordon Douglas' Bombers B-52.[39] One of his early prominent roles came that year in the syndicated military dramas, Harbor Command, a drama about the United States Coast Guard, and The Silent Service, based on true stories of the submarine service of the United States Navy.[citation needed] Around that time he acted in Until the Man Dies, episode 16 of the first season of the Zane Grey Theater.[40] He had a recurring role as police officer Sgt. Walters on the television series Highway Patrol, and he appeared in a total of sixteen episodes. Whitman explained that, at the time, he was working part-time in a slaughterhouse, and when he got the role, he and its star Broderick Crawford got along immediately and became friends. From that point on, whenever Whitman was low on cash, he would call Crawford who would gladly invite him to appear in another episode, on the premise that he could drink while Whitman handled most of the dialogue.[5][6][7][8] Also that year, Whitman acted in an episode of Mr. Adams and Eve.[citation needed]

1958 to 1961: Rise to fame, other business endeavors and Academy Award nomination

By this time, his side career as a real estate developer was thriving. He developed hundreds of acres in such places as Anaheim, Benedict Canyon, and Panorama City, often in partnership with his father. "Because of it, I've never worked as an extra," he said in 1958. "I've never accepted a part that I wouldn't thought advanced my career. I've never taken an acting job, in movies or TV, which paid less than $250 a week."[3]

In the late 1950s, 20th Century Fox was on a drive to develop new talent. Head of production Buddy Adler said, "We must bring young people back into film theatres and the best way is to develop young stars as a magnet. While stories have become more important than ever, we must seek our fresh, youthful talent to perform in them."[41] Whitman was one of a number of new names signed to Fox by Adler as part of a $3–4 million star-building program.[41][42] Whitman's contract was for seven years.[43]

In January 1958, William A. Wellman's Darby's Rangers was premiered.[44] During production the roles were in flux, when its lead Charlton Heston, left the film, James Garner was given the lead and Whitman wound up with Garner's original role in the film.[45] In March, the contract with Fox became exclusive.[46] In June, production of Richard Fleischer's These Thousand Hills[47] began. In May, Ten North Frederick began its theatrical run.[48] Whitman later said he did this to get a choice small part and "many good things came from that".[43] In August, Whitman acted in China Doll premiering that month.[49] In October, MGM's production of Andrew L. Stone's The Decks Ran Red, in which he was cast, was released. According to Whitman, he helped with the signing of his friend Broderick Crawford promising the studio that Crawford would stay sober throughout the shoot. Crawford was hired and maintained his promise.[5][6][7][8] In it Whitman shared an interracial kiss with Dorothy Dandridge. Happening at that time, director Andrew L. Stone wanted Whitman to appear in The Last Voyage (1960)[50] but Robert Stack played the role, instead. He got another good role at Fox when he replaced Robert Wagner in The Sound and the Fury (1959), supporting Joanne Woodward and Yul Brynner.[51] Also in 1959, Whitman acted in The Last Laugh, the 20th episode of the first season of Have Gun – Will Travel.[52][additional citation(s) needed] Another TV credit in that area was in The Court of Last Resort episode called The Westover Case.[53][additional citation(s) needed]

In 1958, Hedda Hopper wrote a piece on Whitman which said he could be the "new Clark Gable":

This is a fresh personality with tremendous impact. He's tall and lean with shock of unruly black hair and dark hazel eyes which harden to slate grey when he plays a bad man or turns on the heat in a love scene. When he comes into camera range, the audience sits up and says: "Who dat?"[3]

In 1959, Whitman acted in several features. In February, Richard Fleischer's western These Thousand Hills[47] premiered. In March, The Sound and the Fury was released.[54] At Fox, Whitman graduated to leading-man parts. In November, Don Siegel's Hound-Dog Man premiered.[55] Whitman had an excellent role co-starring with Fabian Forte playing his "fourth heel in a row... I had a ball because the character was a real louse, everything hanging off him and no inhibitions. I like those kind of guys, I suppose because I can't be that way myself."[56]

The premiere of Henry Koster's Biblical drama The Story of Ruth was in June, 1960; Whitman had a change of pace as he replaced Stephen Boyd as Boaz.[57] Whitman's next release was in July, with the gangster tale Murder, Inc..[58] "I've done lots of different parts since I left Hollywood High School and City College", said Whitman in a 1960 interview, "so the sudden switch didn't bother me too much. I hope 20th Century Fox will keep the roles varied and interesting."[12] Whitman said that the production was troubled. First, when he was reading the script he was under the impression that he was going to play the role for which Peter Falk was already cast, he instead played the romantic lead. Director Stuart Rosenberg was fired by the studio because they felt he was taking too much time setting up shots. Once fired, an actor's sit down strike began, and it was announced that a full-on strike was going to happen. This put the studio under pressure to finish the project, hence producer Burt Balaban, who shares the directorial credit with Rosenberg, stepped in and finished the film in a week, and on the exact day when the strike started.[5][6][7][8] The Los Angeles Times did a profile on Whitman around this time, calling him "an actor of growing importance in a business that needs stalwarts to follow in the steps of the Clark Gables, Gary Coopers, and John Waynes... Whitman is like a finely trained athletic champion – a modest but self-assured chap who seems to know where he is going."[12]

In January 1961, Guy Green's The Mark had its London premiere.[59] The role came about when Whitman was frustrated with the sort of roles he was getting. "I had been knocking around and not getting anything to test my ability", he said. When Richard Burton turned down the role of a child molester in The Mark to do Camelot on stage, Whitman said that he was asked by his agent to fly to Ireland to act in the film, without telling him what it was about. Whitman didn't know the controversial nature of the role until he read the script on location. Impressed and frightful of the content, Whitman had doubts, and asked himself if he was in the right business, but came to the conclusion that he could pull it off. Whitman's performance earned him rave reviews and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He said the film "doubled my rating as an actor".[43] However, he later said, "I had a tough time breaking my image in that movie... it blocked my image as a gutsy outdoorsman."[60]

On April 11, 1961, The Fiercest Heart debuted in San Francisco. The film was shot in South Africa, with Whitman playing a role.[61] On July 12, Michael Curtiz's religious epic Francis of Assisi premiered in which Whitman acted.[62] According to Whitman, while on the set, Curtiz told him that he would like him for a role in his next film, the western, The Comancheros, an adaption by Paul Wellman. Whitman loved the idea, but was booked by the studio elsewhere. The only way to rectify this was for Whitman to talk with its star John Wayne. Only Wayne could ask the studio heads to arrange for Whitman to play the part. Whitman went and introduced himself to John Wayne, and convinced him to do this.[5][6][7][8] On November 1, The Comancheros premiered. In it, Stuart Whitman played Paul Regret who flees the law to avoid death but is eventually captured by Texas Ranger Captain Jake Cutter (Wayne).[63]

Around the same time, Jerry Wald cast Whitman in The Hell Raisers, about the Boxer Rebellion, but it was never made.[64] Whitman also lobbied unsuccessfully to play the lead in Sanctuary (1961),[12] Later in 1961, he announced he would form his own production company to make Mandrake Route by Frederick Wakeman. He also stated that his bulldozer had "developed into quite a sideline. I'm sure I still wouldn't be in the picture business without it."[4]

1962 to 1969: Hollywood leading man

On June 15, 1962, Whitman had a role in Millard Kaufman's Convicts 4, premiering on that day.[65] On October 11, Whitman appeared in the all-star World War II epic The Longest Day. It was directed by several major directors, and opened in Los Angeles on that day.[66] Whitman got the role after being asked to deliver a box of cigars to producer Darryl F. Zanuck at the time of shooting. Zanuck asked him to be part of it, and Whitman agreed. Zanuck directed Whitman's segments.[5][6][7][8] Also in 1962, Whitman, with his Oscar nomination under his belt and much in demand, said he might do Mandrake Root, The Victors (1963), or a film with Marilyn Monroe or one with Lewis Milestone.[67]

In 1963, instead of choosing any of these roles, Whitman played an American pilot in the French film René Clément's The Day and the Hour, shot in Paris and set during World War II. As described by Whitman, he got the part through Alain Delon, who he bumped into in an elevator at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Delon invited him to meet the director, and eventually worked out a way to loan him out from his studio contract. During the production of the film, Whitman disagreed with Clément on the direction of a torture scene. Whitman swore to Clément that he could handle it. After coincidentally sitting in a plane next to Sidney Buchman who co-wrote The Mark, they re-wrote the scene. Whitman directed the torture scene and hasn't directed since. Whitman described Clément, as one of the finest French directors.[5][6][7][8] He enjoyed the experience, saying, "I busted through at last and can now get an honest emotion, project it and make it real. You become egocentric when you involve yourself to such an extent in your role; your next problem is in learning how to turn it off and come home and live with society. It took a lot of time and energy to break through, so I could honestly feel and I'm reluctant to turn it off. Now I know why so many actors go to psychiatrists."[43] Also in 1963, Whitman acted in the second episode of the first season of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre called Killing at Sundial. In it, Whitman plays a Native American who gained a lot of wealth throughout life, and is now seeking to avenge his father who was lynched years prior.[68][additional citation(s) needed] Also at that time, he was mentioned as the lead in Cardinal (1963), and he lobbied to play Jimmy Hoffa in an adaptation of The Enemy Within by Robert F. Kennedy,[43] but lost the first to Tom Tryon and the latter was not made. He adjusted his contract with Fox to read one film a year for five years.[69]

After several months off, he announced plans to produce his own film, My Brother's Keeper, based on a novel about the Collyer brothers. However he moved on to do other projects.[citation needed]

On February 19, 1964, Whitman acted in Shock Treatment, which opened in Los Angeles.[70] On the 12th of November, the Western, Gordon Douglas' Rio Conchos opened with Whitman cast as one of its three leads. The other two were Richard Boone and Anthony Franciosa.[71] Whitman said that he didn't like the script, but producer Darryl F. Zanuck told him that if he would do it, he would then be cast as a lead in Ken Annakin's upcoming film Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965). The studio wanted to hire Dick Van Dyke for the role at the time. Whitman went on to have a meeting with actor Boone and director Douglas. He thought highly of them and accepted. Annakin had to accept the studio's wishes, and without being his first choice, he was very happy with Whitman's performance.[5][6][7][8]

On February 10, 1965, George Englund's Signpost to Murder premiered, which starred Whitman.[72] On May 3, Whitman was confirmed as the main actor for Cy Endfield's Sands of the Kalahari. Whitman became the lead after the production company courted many actors such as Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Albert Finney Marlon Brando and Warren Beatty. Eventually George Peppard was cast as the lead and abandoned it early in production and Alan Bates was in talks but Whitman was confirmed. Whitman says that he got the role after reading in Variety about the departure of Peppard, so he went to The Beverly Hills Hotel and bumped into the producer to whom he jokingly suggested himself for the role. The producers called him that same evening to fly to Africa to star in it. Whitman found the shoot difficult due to the hot weather and the fact the baboons, with whom he had fight scenes, where not properly trained, lived in decrepit conditions, as well as having no animal control.[5][6][7][8] The film premiered on November 10.[73] June 16, 1965, saw the release of Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. In this British period comedy film, Whitman is featured among an international ensemble cast including Sarah Miles, Robert Morley, Terry-Thomas, James Fox, Red Skelton, Benny Hill, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Gert Fröbe and Alberto Sordi. The film, revolving around the craze of early aviation circa 1910, is about a pompous newspaper magnate (Morley) who is convinced by his daughter (Miles) and fiancée (Fox), a young army officer, to organize an air race from London to Paris. A large sum of money is offered to the winner and it hence attracts a variety of characters who participate. Whitman appears as the American entrant, one of its top participants. The film received positive reviews, in which they said the film was funny, colourful, clever and captured the early enthusiasm for aviation.[74][75][76] It was treated as a major production, one of only three full-length 70 mm Todd-AO Fox releases in 1965, with an intermission and musical interlude part of the original screenings.[77] Because of the Todd-AO process, the film was an exclusive roadshow feature initially shown in deluxe Cinerama venues, where customers needed reserved seats purchased ahead of time.[78] The film grossed $31.1 million theatrically and on home video $29.9 million.[79][80] Audience reaction both in first release and even today, is nearly universal in assessing the film as one of the "classic" aviation films.[81]

In 1966, he acted in Robert Gist's An American Dream, from a novel by Norman Mailer.[82][additional citation(s) needed] Around this time, Whitman returned to Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre in the episode The Highest Fall of All. In it he played a suicidal stuntman who is willing to do an extremely dangerous fall for a director.[83][84][additional citation(s) needed]

According to John Gregory Dunne's "The Studio," Whitman was suggested for the title role in The Boston Strangler by John Bottomly, the Massachusetts assistant attorney general who prosecuted Albert DeSalvo. Instead, the role went to Tony Curtis.[citation needed]

Whitman had turned down a number of offers to star on television series over the years, including Mannix and Judd for the Defense. "I wanted more diversity in acting," he said. "I felt I would limit myself."[60]

Whitman and Victoria Shaw in Cimarron Strip (1967)

On September 7, 1967, Whitman was seen for the first time as U.S. Marshal Jim Crown, the lead character in Cimarron Strip premiering that day.[85][86] The show was costly, $350,000–$400,000 per episode and with a broadcast time of 90 minutes, it was the most expensive drama series made to that time.[87] "A lot of big people told me I was the number one man the networks wanted," said Whitman.[60] The series was produced by Whitman's own company. "I always wanted to play a cop with a heart, a guy who would use every possible means not to kill a man," he said. "TV has needed a superhero... and I think Crown can be the guy."[88] While Whitman received good reviews for his performance, many criticized the show for having thin plots, and was met with disappointing ratings.[89][90] Its time slot had major competition where Daniel Boone came out on top, Batman was pushed to another time, The Flying Nun would remain, while Cimarron Strip was cancelled.[91]

In 1969, Whitman acted in Sweet Hunters.[92]

1970 to 1987: Subsequent projects

Whitman admitted, "I'm the type who must work constantly."[88] In the early 1970s, he worked increasingly in Europe. "I left Hollywood because it was getting to be a mad mess!" he said. "There are only about two really good scripts going around and they always go to the industry's two top stars. I thought that in Europe, something better might come my way—and it did! I've made mistakes in the past, but I kept bouncing back. I always thought that an actor is destined to act, but I now realize that if you do one role well, you get stuck with it!"[11]

On September 25, 1970, Whitman was seen in the episode Murder off-camera of Bracken's World.[93] Also that year, Whitman appeared in the films The Last Escape, and The Invincible Six.[94][95] He was also in an episode of The FBI, and appeared in several more.[citation needed]

On October 26, 1971, Whitman acted in Captain Apache.[96] On November 6, he played a lead role in the television film Revenge!.[97] Another role that year was in The City Beneath the Sea.[citation needed]

On January 12, 1972, Lindemann's Catch, an episode of season two of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, aired. Serling personally wrote the episode directed by Jeff Corey. The story is about a cold hearted sea captain (Whitman) who captures a mermaid.[98] In July, 1972, Whitman acted in William F. Claxton's newly released horror film Night of the Lepus. In it, Whitman and Janet Leigh play a couple of zoologists who are looking for ways to reduce the rabbit population that infested a nearby ranch. They test a serum on some rabbit specimens that would cause them birth defects, and hence reduce the population. One of them escapes, and soon after, the area is infested and under attack by giant rabbits.[99] The production was troubled and the film was critically lambasted upon release.[100][101][102][103] Whitman said that he ended up with the role because at the time he was working with Lee Remick on a film called The Candy Man, which was cancelled. When he requested his salary, and was turned down, he was told he would be compensated only if he took the lead in Night of the Lepus for which he found the screenplay ridiculous right from the start. He went on to say that the film damaged his reputation and wasn't bankable.[5][6][7][8] Despite its poor reputation, the film developed a cult status, but was described by retrospective critics as ridiculous and unintentionally funny. While some maintained that it was not good, others felt it was a so-bad-it-was-good type film.[104][105][106][107][108][109][110]

October 18 was the premiere of the Disney made Jerome Courtland's Run, Cougar, Run in which Whitman starred.[111] On December 2, Whitman had a part in the episode of Carnival/The Vaudevillians of Fantasy Island first airing that day.[112] That same month, on the 10th, Whitman acted for a second time in Night Gallery in an episode called Fright Night.[113] Another TV show in which he appeared was Ghost Story.[114] Also that year Whitman acted in The Woman Hunter.[115]

On January 25, 1973, The set up, an episode of The Streets of San Francisco in which Whitman guest-starred, first aired.[116] On April 13, the made-for-television film The Man Who Died Twice premiered with Whitman in the lead role.[117] Another TV program which featured Whitman first aired on September 21. It was the episode Love and the Lifter; The Comedienne; The Lie; The Suspicious Husband of Love, American Style.[118] On the 23rd of November, Whitman acted in the Hec Ramsey episode called A Hard Road to Vengeance.[119]

On May 24, 1974, Whitman acted in the horror movie Welcome to Arrow Beach, premiering on that day.[120]

During the week of October 20, 1975, Call Him Mr Shatter premiered, in which Whitman had the lead role.[121] On October 29, Man in the Middle an episode of Cannon, where Whitman guest-starred, first aired.[122] On the 27th of November, Fred Williamson's Mean Johnny Barrows premiered. Whitman played a supporting role.[123] Also that year, Whitman acted in Jonathan Demme's Crazy Mama.[124]

On January 24, 1976, part one of the two-part episode The Running Man of the show S.W.A.T., first aired with Whitman.[125][126] On March 9, Whitman was the leading man in the Italian action film Strange Shadows in an Empty Room premiering in Italy before going worldwide. It was shot in Canada, both in Ottawa and Montreal. According to director Alberto de Martino, Whitman agreed to the project to work outside of Hollywood.[127] On the 23rd of that month, Las Vegas Lady was released in which Whitman took part.[128] Also that year, the film Treasure Seekers wrapped where Whitman played a role. It was written by and starred Rod Taylor, and co-starred Elke Sommer. Due to problems while shooting and in post production, the film only achieved a limited release a number of years later.[129] Finally he acted in Harry O, and Ellery Queen.[citation needed]

On the second of January 1977, the episode, Hot Ice Cold Hearts of the TV show Quincy, M.E. aired with Whitman as a guest-star .[130] On February 19, he guest-starred in Most Wanted in the episode Tunnel Killer.[131] In early June, Whitman acted in Ruby which opened theatrically.[132] On October 5, Whitman acted in J. Lee Thompson's The White Buffalo starring Charles Bronson.[133] On October 16, Whitman acted in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries's episode The Mystery of the African Safari.[134] As early as the 19th of October, Whitman acted in the newly released Maniac![135][136][137] On November 30, Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive premiered.[138] That year also he acted in Mircea Drăgan's Oil – The Billion Dollar Fire. Whitman said that he found the shoot in a Romanian film problematic because extras would talk during rehearsals and takes. When Whitman complained to the assistant director who reported the issue to the director, he returned telling him to shoot it as it is, or they would shoot him. From that point on, Whitman accepted the work conditions.[5][6][7][8]

On November 21–22, 1978, Whitman acted in the two-part, four-hour television miniseries directed by Ken Annakin called The Pirate which was first broadcast on CBS.[139][140] It was based on the novel with the same title written by Harold Robbins.[141] Also that year, he acted in the Henry Levin film Run For The Roses.[142]

On the 8th of February 1979, the three-part mini-series Women in White first aired, and Whitman shared the lead with Susan Flannery.[143] On November 14 and 15, 1979, the four-hour long, two-part mini-series The Seekers aired. Whitman played a supporting role.[144] That year, also, Whitman acted in the film Delta Fox.[145]

Around this time, Whitman collaborated twice with director René Cardona Jr.. In early February 1980, Guyana, Cult Of The Damned started its American theatrical run.[146][147][148] The second was Los Traficantes De Panico, also known as Under Siege. According to Whitman, he got the role a year after wrapping the previous one. According to Whitman, he couldn't commit to the part because he was busy on another, hence Cardona provided Whitman with a jet and shot his part in one weekend.[149][5][6][7][8] By October 23, Whitman bought the rights to Rudyard Kipling's Gunga Din in order to make a new Cinematic adaptation.[150] On November 29, Whitman guest starred in Condominium which first aired on WPIX. The telefilm is a two part episode of the four-hour long adaptation of the John D. MacDonald novel.[151] Whitman's film roles released in the US and UK in the year 1980 were Cuba Crossing, and The Monster Club.[152][153]

On April 19, 1981, Whitman acted in the Tales of the Unexpected episode The Boy Who Talked with Animals.[154][155] As early as June 14, Demonoids started its theatrical run in the U.S. On October 31[156][157] Whitman acted in the season 5 episode of Fantasy Island called The Lady and the Monster; The Last Cowboy.[158] Also that year home video releases of the film When I am King surfaced.[159] Another one he acted in was the Italian film Horror Safari renamed Invaders of the Lost Gold for home video releases.[160]

In 1982, he acted in Matt Cimber's film Butterfly which opened at the Montreal film festival on August 20.[161][162] On October 16, Whitman acted in the episode Curse of the Moreaus; My Man Friday of Fantasy Island.[163] On November 18, Whitman acted in an episode called The Rough Rider Rides Again of Simon & Simon.[164]

On April 5, 1983, Whitman acted in the episode West-Coast Turnaround of season one of The A-Team.[165]

On April 30, 1984, Whitman hosted Hollywood Roughcuts. During the program, Whitman walked the audience through the behind the scenes of making a motion picture.[166] On May 27, Whitman acted in Big Iron an episode of Knight Rider.[167] On the 25th of November, Whitman acted in Hit, Run, and Homicide an episode of Murder, She Wrote.[168] On the 7th of December, Whitman played a killer stalking the character played by Lee Horsley who is investigating the death of two athletes in the show Matt Houston.[169] On the 8th of that month, Whitman also acted in the episode Midnight Highway of the show Cover Up.[170] Home video releases of the film First Strike, in which he acted can be traced back to that year.[171] Another Home video release that can be traced back to this year is René Cardona Jr.'s adventure film The Treasure of the Amazon. It started airing on television as early as May 19, 1985.[172][173] Also that year, he appeared in episodes of Hotel, and would return for another episode.[citation needed]

As early as March 8, 1985, Deadly Intruder was listed as a new home video release. In it, Whitman played a supporting role.[174][additional citation(s) needed] On April 6, 1985, Whitman acted on the series Finder of Lost Loves.[citation needed] As early as late April, the episode of Tales from the Darkside, in which Whitman appears, aired.[citation needed] On the fifth of October, Whitman acted in the episode called The Biggest Man in Town of the TV show Hunter.[175] On that same date, CBS first aired another project with a supporting effort by Whitman in the television film Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues starring James Brolin, and Lisa Hartman.[176][additional citation(s) needed] On November 19, Whitman returned to the TV show The A-Team, in the episode Blood, Sweat and Cheers.[177]

As early as January 15, 1986, the film Vultures started airing on TV. Whitman, along with Meredith MacRae starred in it.[178] It also had a Home Video release.[179] On January 22, 1986, Whitman was a guest star on Blacke's Magic.[180] On February 17, Whitman was also the guest on TV-show Hardcastle and McCormick.[181] On October 9, Whitman acted in the episode Phil After All These Years of the show Simon & Simon.[182]

On February 10, 1987, CBS first aired the television-film adaptation of the Mary Higgins Clark's novel Stillwatch, where Whitman played a supporting role.[183][184] On May 27, Whitman acted in the season finale of Hotel.[185] In November, he appeared in the episode Trouble in Eden of Murder, She Wrote.[186] Also that year, Whitman acted in one episode of Jack and Mike.[187]

1988 to 2000: continued career and retirement

Whitman acted in Burt Kennedy's television-film Once Upon a Texas Train that premiered as a CBS Sunday Movie on CBS on January 3, 1988.[188][189] On the 13th of February, Whitman acted in the episode Cactus Jack's Last Call of the show J.J. Starbuck.[190] On the 2nd of May, the first episode of Ernest Hemingway's biography miniseries called Hemingway aired in which Whitman played the subject's father.[191] The first season of the series Superboy, which began airing in October, focused on Superman/Clark Kent (played by John Haymes Newton) during his college years, with a regular ensemble that included Stacy Haiduk, Perry White, and Scott James Wells. Joining them playing Clark's adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, were portrayed by Whitman and Salome Jens, respectively.[192] Whitman participated in all of the four seasons.

During his tenure on Superboy, Whitman appeared in other projects. This started during the week of June 4, 1989, when David Heavener's Deadly Reactor was released on Home Video.[193][194] In September of that year, Whitman wrapped the film Gypsy.[195]

on January 11, 1990, Whitman appeared in his first episode of the long running television series Knots Landing.[196] In it, Whitman, in the following episodes, played the recurring role of the antagonist corporate executive who goes against star character Mack Mackenzie (Kevin Dobson).[197][198] Whitman's following effort was a supporting role in The Color of Evening starring Martin Landau.[199][200] The film was chosen among many others to be played theatrically throughout the U.S. during April and May, in an effort to put adult-oriented films in cinema.[201] All of Whitman's following roles of 1990 were in Home Video releases. This started with Moving Target, in May,[202] then on July 14, the post apocalyptic film Omega Cop starring Ron Marchini,[203][204][205] and finally on September 26, Mob Boss.[206]

On April 14, 1991, the Japanese film Heaven & Earth had its Boston premiere. Whitman provided his voice for areas of the movies that needed narration.[207] On November 10, Whitman headlined in a Los Angeles stage revival of The Country Girl by Clifford Odets.[208]

On January 18, 1992, Whitman acted in the Murder, She Wrote episode Incident in Lot 7.[209] Whitman's following supporting role was Smooth Talker released on home video by June 19.[210][211]

On February 17, 1993, Whitman played a sheriff on the prime time TV show Time Trax in the episode Showdown.[212][213] Whitman acted in Lightning in a Bottle starring Lynda Carter, which premiered on August 7 at the Wine Country Film Festival.[214] On 27th of that same month, Whitman guest starred in the two-hour special debut of Bruce Campbell's western adventure TV series The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..[215] October saw the videocassette release of Private Wars starring Steve Railsback. Whitman plays the antagonist who is a landlord and a land developer who faces the wrath of a neighbourhood being trained by a hitman (Railsback).[216]

On May 14, 1994, Whitman was one of the guests in a two-hour-long special episode of the hit television show Walker, Texas Ranger called The Reunion. With Chuck Norris and Clarence Gilyard as our crime fighting duo, other guests included Ben Masters, and Jonathan Banks.[217] In the story, Whitman plays a retired Texas ranger, who joins forces with our leads (Norris and Gilyard), to protect a governor (Masters) whose life is threatened.[218] On its own the episode was released on Home Media.[219] On May 24, the movie Improper Conduct premiered, in it Whitman co-starred.[220][221] On September 4, the theatrical run of Heywood Gould's thriller Trial by Jury started, where Whitman played a supporting role.[222][223]

On August 16, 1995, the television film Wounded Heart premiered starring Paula Devicq, and co-starring Whitman.[224] On October 18, Whitman played a role in Child Support an episode of the TV series Courthouse.[225][226]

On August 8, 1996, The Wine Film Festival screened Land of Milk & Honey in which Whitman acted.[227][228][229][230] The following November, Whitman performed in the short film Two Weeks from Sunday. It premiered at the World Fest Charleston International Film Festival, where it won in its category as well as the 1997 edition of The Santa Clarita International Film Festival.[231][232][233][234] Also that year, Whitman acted in the television film adaptation of the Louis L'Amour novel Shaughnessy.[235]

On October 26, 1997, Nickelodeon aired Side by Side/Hooked on Phobics an episode of the children animated show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.[236] In this instalment, Whitman voiced the character of Mule Morgan the owner of a mystery creatures museum in the desert, who's in dire need of new specimens for his exhibit, while two of our lead monsters are lurking around his property.[237][additional citation(s) needed] Also that year the 1992 horror film Sandman, where Whitman acted, was released.[238][239]

On February 1, 1998, Whitman was included in the Hollywood walk of Fame.[240] On the 13th of that month, The Santa Clarita International Film Festival premiered James Fargo's Second Chances, where Whitman played a supporting role.[241][242]

On April 2, 2000, CBS premiered Michael Preece's action television film The President's Man, starring Chuck Norris.[243] In it, Whitman plays a former President's man, a job that consists of being a highly trained bodyguard of the U.S. President, who gives guidance to his retiring successor (Norris) on his path to find and train a replacement.[244][245][246]

Ever since this last release, Whitman is reported to be retired.[247]

Awards and honors

Personal life and death


His first marriage, to Patricia LaLonde (October 13, 1952 – 1966), ended in divorce. They had four children: Tony (born 1953), Michael (born 1954), Linda (born 1956) and Scott (born 1958).

Stuart remarried, to French-born Caroline Boubis (1966–74). They had one son together, Justin, before divorcing in 1974. In 2006, he wed Julia Vadimovna Paradiz, a Russian woman he met at a friend's wedding in St. Petersburg, Russia.[248][249]

Friendships and commentary on collaborators

In an interview, Whitman said that he and Broderick Crawford clicked upon meeting on the set of Highway Patrol. Whenever Whitman was low on cash he would tell Crawford, who continued to re-invite him. Both would hang-out outside of the workplace. Later, Whitman helped Crawford to be cast in The Decks Ran Red.

Another The Decks Ran Red co-star Whitman commented on was Dorothy Dandridge, who was going through a divorce and had to institutionalize her mentally ill daughter. Whitman was impressed with her strength and described her as a goddess.

Whitman told that when he first met Peter Falk on the set of Murder, Inc., they had differences but eventually became friends. Whitman found The Mark director Guy Green difficult to work with, finding him demanding and too strict, but they became good friends afterwards. On the set of Sands of the Kalahari, Whitman said he became best friends with fellow cast members Stanley Baker and Theodore Bikel, while he didn't click with Jim Brown at first, they too became friends.

In the same piece, Whitman said that Terry-Thomas was one of his best friends. After their collaboration on Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, both would meet for drinks, visit one another, and swim in the ocean while on Whitman's beachfront home in Malibu.[5][6][7][8]

Illness and death

Whitman died on March 16, 2020, from skin cancer at his Montecito, California home.[250][251] Survivors included his wife, Juliya; four children from his first marriage, Linda Whitman van Hook and Anthony, Michael and Scott Whitman; a son from his second marriage, Justin Whitman; a brother, actor Kipp Whitman; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.[252]


Whitman said in 1961, "I've had to battle and say what is an actor? It's a fellow who plays someone else. But now I realize it's the image that makes a star. John Wayne is a great example of a super actor. Gary Cooper is another one. My image? I think it's being free and easy and all man. I say to myself I want to become an actor, I want to lose myself in each role. But that's not the way to become an actor."[4]

In a 1991 Los Angeles Times interview,[253] Whitman said, "I was bankable for a while, then I did a couple of shows that didn’t make any money. Then I wasn’t bankable... As an actor you’ve got to keep working. You’ve got to do something to feed the family, put the kids through school."

Whitman's private fortune continued to grow on a combination of his property developments and acting income.[11] "I didn't need to act to make a living, but had a real passion for it – I just loved to act," said Whitman.[248]



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Works cited

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