Forrest Tucker

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Forrest Tucker (February 12, 1919 - October 25, 1986) was an American actor in both movies and television from the 1940s to the 1980s. Standing 6'5" and weighing 200 lbs, Tucker excelled as both hero and villain in action films throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

Tucker was born in Plainfield, Indiana. After graduating high school, he served in the United States Cavalry, performed in burlesque theater, and attended George Washington University. While on vacation in California in 1940, he began auditioning for movie roles. He was cast in The Westerner (1940), which starred Gary Cooper. He stood out in a fight scene with Cooper and was signed to Columbia Pictures.

In 1941, he played his first lead in Emergency Landing, and the following year he co-starred in the classic Keeper of the Flame. From 1942 to 1945, Tucker served in World War II. After returning from the war, he resumed his acting career, appearing in the classic 1946 film The Yearling and stealing a few scenes from Errol Flynn in Never Say Goodbye the same year.

In 1948, Tucker left Columbia and signed with Republic Pictures. The next year, he made his breakthrough in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), as Corporal Thomas, a soldier with a score to settle with John Wayne's Sergeant Stryker. Graduating to leads, Tucker starred in numerous action films during the 1950s, including Rock Island Trail (1950), California Passage (1950), The Abominable Snowman (1957), and The Crawling Eye (1958). Also in 1958, he played the male lead opposite Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame, which was the highest grossing film of the year. This film marked another turning point in his career, as he showed a flair for light comedy under the direction of Morton Da Costa.

Tucker then was cast as Professor Harold Hill by Da Costa in the touring version of The Music Man, and he played the role 2,008 times over the next five years. Following his "Music Man" run, Tucker starred in the Broadway play Fair Game for Lovers (1964) and then turned to television for his most famous role, starring as frontier capitalist Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke in F Troop (1965 - 1967). Though the network run lasted only two seasons, the series has been in constant syndication since, reaching three generations of viewers.

Following F Troop, Tucker returned to films in character parts (Barquero and Chisum, both 1970), and to television in numerous guest starring roles, including 6 appearances on Gunsmoke. In his final film, Cannon's Thunder Run (1986), he was cast in one last action lead before his death from lung cancer. Tucker is interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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