Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tom, Dick and... Barry

If ever there were a post built mostly upon the “catchy” title, it is this one! Not that I don't like our three featured actors, in varying degrees. It's just that the notion to profile them sprang more from my desire to use the title above than from my hunger to research them. Not one of the three was able to maintain a significantly lengthy or particularly important acting career, but each has his charms nevertheless.

We'll begin with Tom. In this case, it's Tom Tryon. He was born (as Thomas) in Hartford, Connecticut on January 14th, 1926 to a clothier named Arthur Tryon and his wife (his father was part owner of a store called Stackpole, Moore and Tryon.) He was raised, however, in Wethersfield, CT. At age seventeen during WWII, young Tom joined the U.S. Navy and served as a radio specialist in the South Pacific. This field, which required a distinct speaking voice, would come in handy later in his career.

Upon his release in 1946, he began working at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts, working as both an actor and a set designer among many other tasks. He eventually proceeded to New York City, where he studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse, learning his craft from famed tutor Sanford Meisner. In 1952, he landed a small role (under the direction of Joshua Logan) in the Broadway spectacle Wish You Were Here, a lavish, monumental production set in a summer getaway that had a functioning swimming pool on stage! He stayed with the show more than a year as an understudy and eventual replacement for a bigger part. He rounded out 1953 with a bit part in Cyrano de Bergerac (with Jose Ferrer and Arlene Dahl) and a short-lived rendition of Richard III (again with Ferrer.) There was a brief marriage in 1955, to an actress named Anne, but it didn't last and the couple was divorced by 1958.

After a brief dry spell, he began to find work in television in (now-forgotten) shows such as The Way of the World and Frontier in 1955. He then won the leading make role in a movie called The Scarlet Hour. In it, he played the “other man” helping to rid Carol Ohmart of her husband James Gregory. That same year, he was given top-billing in Screaming Eagles, a war drama about paratroopers during the D-Day invasion. He was an anti-hero in it, a heavy drinker with a poor attitude.

Perhaps sensing a predilection for playing nasty types, he was then cast as Charlton Heston's no-good, one-armed brother in Three Violent People. Heston was not on board with the casting of Tryon as his little brother, but at this stage in his career he had to lump it. (They did both possess severe cheekbones anyway!)

Care was taken to try to present the illusion that Tryon only had one arm and, considering the time and the resources available, he did an admirable job of suggesting his condition on screen and in several publicity stills.

He also managed to provide a beefcake scene with his shirt off, cleverly masking his shoulder. In this early performance, there was a definite sense of danger and sensuality, but as his career wore on, this would be put forward less and less and he would be saddled with more bland, conventional parts that he essayed with a stoicism that many considered to be wooden.

He was very busy during this period, however, popping up on plenty of TV series including Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre (three times!), Playhouse 90 and Zane Grey Theater. 6' 3” in real life, he also played Abraham Lincoln in a version of Young Mr. Lincoln done on The 20th Century-Fox Hour, a show which abbreviated hit Fox films into one-hour renditions with different stars.

In 1957, he joined Rod Steiger and Diana Dors in The Unholy Wife, again playing the other man in a love triangle. Playing a rodeo rider (and dressed much the way he looked in Violent People), he was directed by John Farrow in this moody, colorful, richly-photographed, but relentlessly oddball film.

He had the rare opportunity the following year to work on television with Miss Joan Crawford in an installment of G.E. True Theater called Strange Witness. At this stage of her career, in films and on TV, Crawford liked to work opposite younger men who were tall, trim and handsome. Tryon fit the bill.

1958 would prove to be a very busy year for Tryon. He was not only seen in television series such as Wagon Train, The Restless Gun, and The Millionaire, but he also began appearing in a series of programs that were part of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. There was a time when Disney scored amazing ratings on network television (prior to the creation of The Disney Channel on cable) and some version of the show ran for more than three decades. Between 1958 and 1961, Tryon appeared as the title character in Texas John Slaughter.

The recurring series, rotated amongst other Disney product, had him playing an old west Arizona sheriff, loosely based on a real man by the same name. (The real sheriff had been 5' 6” while Tryon was nine inches taller than that himself!) It was a heavily watched program that gave him some much needed exposure and recognition.

This same year he worked in a sci-fi B-movie that would go on to earn serious cult status. I Married a Monster from Outer Space was the campy title given to what is actually a rather effective motion picture. The story concerned a race of aliens who begin taking over the bodies of Earth people, the first of them being Tryon, who is on the cusp of marrying his fiancee Gloria Talbott. Despite being something of a rip-off of 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it is considered a thought-provoking and engrossing little movie.

His next movie came in 1960 with The Story of Ruth, one of many Biblical spectacles that were huge at the box office in the late-'50s and early to mid-'60s. Stuart Whitman was the star of the film along with newcomer Elana Eden as Ruth. (Her career was very short-lived and not prolific.) Tryon played Eden's husband who is killed early into the picture, leaving her with a whole set of woes. Peggy Wood (of The Sound of Music) and Viveca Lindfors also starred. At least it afforded some decent glimpses of Tryon's (and Whitman's) legs.

He secured top-billing for 1961's Marines, Let's Go, a middling film about Korean War marines on shore leave, living it up in Japan. He was supposed to have a featured role in Marilyn Monroe's next movie (to be called Something's Got to Give), but it was shelved upon her death, though some of his footage survives in a special short made of completed scenes. He again was given a starring role, this time in the Disney feature Moon Pilot, which had him as an air force captain chosen to be the first man to orbit the moon.

This being a children's-oriented movie, he has a chimpanzee sidekick, but there is the joy at least of seeing Tryon shucked down for his physical exam, revealing a nice, lean, tan, hairy torso! It was not exactly common for Disney leading men to go shirtless. I wonder how many little boys wanted to be astronauts after this...

In 1962, he was one of many, many, many stars to appear in the Darryl F. Zanuck production The Longest Day, a gargantuan movie about the D-Day invasion. Then, he was selected by Otto Preminger to star in The Cardinal, a mammoth drama all about the eventful life of a Catholic priest who rises to be, what else, a cardinal. (He is outfitted in his later years with a putty nose that is more than a little distracting!)

He faces many challenges from church politics to a lapse in faith to the decision on whether to allow his sister to die rather than abort a fetus that is killing her. His character was an almost Forrest Gump-like man, being present in Austria during the Nazi takeover and in rural Georgia when the KKK is meting out horror to black churchgoers there. In this last episode, he was brutally whipped and left for dead in a fairly agonizing scene.

This was light compared to the treatment he got from director Otto Preminger, who rode herd on him from the start and delighted in degrading and humiliating him whenever possible. The director was known to find a scapegoat within the cast of each of his films and take out all of his (considerable) frustration on him. In this case, it was his leading man! The expensive, all-star film did not perform well at the box office, thus tarnishing Tryon's standing as a viable leading man.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe, however, though the statuette was taken home by Sidney Poitier that year, in the midst of a red-hot streak for Lilies of the Field.

Perhaps possessing an unexpressed masochistic streak (or maybe just because he'd signed a prior contract), he went to work for Preminger again in 1965's In Harm's Way, fourth-billed behind John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Patricia Neal. This one dealt with the attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII. Tryon was beginning to grow weary of his work as a film actor, spurred on no doubt by having to work with prickly people such as Preminger.

The same year as In Harm's Way, he starred in The Glory Guys opposite Harve Presnell and Senta Berger. This cavalry versus Indians western was written and begun with direction by Sam Peckinpah, but he was fired soon after filming commenced.

Plenty of television would follow, starting with an appearance on The Big Valley. Tryon played one of the many suitors that Audra Barkley (played by Linda Evans) fell for who would then turn out either to be villainous, inappropriate or dead by the end of the episode. Here, he was an opportunistic land-grabber who meets cute with the young girl as she's about to take a dip in the lake. He's already in there, naked, and waits a while to make his presence known!

She wants him out of there, but is horrified when he starts to exit right in front of her. When her brothers come by on horseback, he gallantly swims over to some nearby foliage, but then comes close to sneezing, giving himself away. This was my own first exposure to Tom Tryon since The Big Valley was my favorite TV series (in afternoon reruns) as a kid. It may very well be one of the things that led my affinity for water, swimming, bathing, skinny-dipping, etc!

Tryon starred in a 1967 TV-remake of the James Stewart and Shelley Winters western Winchester '73 (1950), alongside John Saxon, Dan Duryea and Joan Blondell. He also appeared on the shows The Road West and The Virginian. In 1969, he starred in Color Me Dead, a remake of D.O.A., which concerned a man who has been poisoned and only has so long to live in which to name his own killer. At forty-three, he was still able to display a fit, attractive physique in the movie's shirtless scene.

By now, however, he was really ready to hang up his acting cap and embark on something new and different. After having gone to see Rosemary's Baby (1968) in the theater, he felt that he was capable of writing his own horror story. Baby had first been a novel by Ira Levin and Tryon set out to write his own chiller. The result was the 1971 novel The Other. He eventually wrote the screenplay for and executive produced a movie version of what turned out to be a very successful book.

The movie The Other was not a substantial hit, though it contained a rare on-screen performance by legendary stage actress and teacher Uta Hagen. Over the years, the film's reputation has grown and appreciation for it has deepened among a growing coterie of fans (though Tryon, himself, was disappointed in the final result.) Tryon (apparently) made his final film appearance in 1971's The Horsemen before concentrating on his writing career full time. His next novel, 1973's Harvest Home, was adapted into the creepy miniseries The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, which starred Miss Bette Davis.

Several other novels, and short stories followed and he never again acted before the camera. His writing kept him in the public eye to a degree. What most of the outside world had not realized until he departed Hollywood was the fact that Tryon was gay. Freed of the pressure to maintain a leading man image, he could now do as he pleased. He had a few notable relationships including Clive Clerk (one of the stars on Broadway's A Chorus Line) and even Calvin Culver (shown above left), better known perhaps as Casey Donovan, a model-turned-high-profile gay porn star who briefly enjoyed a career as a legitimate stage actor. They were together from 1973 to 1977.

Tom Tryon, the leading man known for his brooding visage who had spent much of his life in a state of nervous tension whether from the pressures of a film career or from his repressed, closeted sexuality, developed stomach cancer and died in 1991 at age sixty-five.

And now we will have a look at Dick. In this instance I am referring to Dick Davalos. Far less has been written about Mr. Davalos, but we know he was born Richard Davalos on November 5th, 1930 in New York, New York. Parents of both Spanish (father) and Finnish (mother) descent were responsible for his unusual, sharp features. He had an olive complexion, but blue eyes, a distinctive mole to the side of his right eye and a downright unbelievable thatch of thick, shiny hair.

Having determined to be an actor, he started out in early television with a role on the anthology series Goodyear Playhouse in 1953, working with Ed Begley Sr. in the installment Ernie Barger is Fifty. Two years later, he worked on Ponds Theater in The Cornered Man with Underworld favorite Buster Crabbe and on Kraft Theatre in My Aunt Daisy opposite June Lockhart.

His stage career also began promisingly in 1955 with his winning a role in the one-act Broadway drama A Memory of Two Mondays, by Arthur Miller. It was presented in tandem with another play by the author a one-act version of A View from the Bridge. Despite appearing alongside considerable talent such as Van Heflin, J. Carroll Naish, Jack Warden and Eileen Heckart, it was Davalos who won the sole award, the Theatre World Award, for his work.

Elia Kazan was preparing an adaptation of John Steinbeck's East of Eden to star James Dean, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Jo Van Fleet and Julie Harris, but another actor was needed to play Dean's brother. Paul Newman was tested opposite Dean and came close to winning the part, but he was older by seven years and didn't seem to share the same level of chemistry with Dean that just months-older Davalos did in his test.

In the lenghty test, Dean comes home late to a concerned Davalos and the two begin to talk, but soon argue. Eventually, Davalos sits on top on Dean in order to pin him down for answers. Then the two square off, playfully at first, then more aggressively, then playfully again, with Davalos straddling Dean on the floor of their room and ultimately with their legs entwined, before turning their backs to each other in order to sleep. You may want to right-click this one in a new window and magnify.

Davalos won the important part and played “good” brother Aron to Dean's “bad” one, Cal. The film omitted the entire beginning of Steinbeck's novel, concentrating solely on the latter portion about these two brothers (modeled after Cain and Abel.) During the filming, Davalos and Dean roomed together in order to build their relationship as brothers, though the fastidious Davalos was appalled at the disheveled Dean's habits.

The film itself was a success, nominated for four Oscars (with Van Fleet winning one as the boys' arthritic, former-prostitute mother.) It even won a Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture Drama, but wasn't able to score an Oscar nomination as Best Picture. (The low-budget Marty took top honors that year.)

With the premature death of Dean in 1955 (with two unreleased films in the can), East of Eden soon took on a staggering level of cult status, though not to the degree that his later movie Rebel Without a Cause did. Davalos, however, despite doing a credible job in the film, was not able to ride the wave to any substantial further success.

He had a small role as an ill-fated cadet in the John Wayne-Lana Turner WWII adventure The Sea Chase (billed as Dick Davalos), but was seventh-billed, with little room to make an impact amongst the other, bigger stars. Nevertheless, he did have the chance to shuck down to some little khaki shorts and prepare to go swimming with costar Tab Hunter.

(Do we think this is the only time Hunter ever went swimming with a Dick? LOL I doubt it.) Remarkably, Davalos performed his own quite skillful dive off the stair platform of a ship and into the ocean below. It was a small part, but he did at least get at least one key scene as his character's fate was sealed.

He also had a supporting role in the Jack Palance-Shelley Winters murder mystery I Died a Thousand Times. Both of these films were in 1955, the same year Eden was released. Then, he inexplicably fell off the movie radar and was seen mostly on TV shows. He popped up on several of the (seemingly unending parade of) anthology shows of the mid-'50s such as Star Tonight, The United States Steel Hour and Armstrong Circle Theatre. Are you getting this crazy ass hair?? It's practically back in style today!

1960 brought another movie role with All the Young Men, but he was eighth-billed under Alan Ladd, Sidney Poitier, James Darren, Glenn Corbett and others. More television, including Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond (in which he plays a wounded and blinded Korean War soldier who miraculously survives being lost) and Bonanza (seen here, in which he played a stranger who was suspected of being a notorious outlaw.)

He landed a regular series with 1961's The Americans. The show was set during the U.S. Civil War and concerned border state brothers Davalos and Darryl Hickman fighting on opposite sides of the conflict. Hickman was a Union officer while Davalos was a Confederate. (1961 was the centennial of the war.) Unfortunately, the series only lasted a dozen episodes.

In the wake of The Americans' cancellation, Davalos appeared on Hawaiian Eye, Perry Mason and Doctor Kildare. He also got another movie role, this time in the 1962 update of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a legendary, silent, 1919 German expressionistic horror film. This rendition bore close to no resemblance to the original and in the final analysis was something of a cheat. Dick played a mysterious and cryptic young man who is interested in the movie's star Glynis Johns.

Again, there was a dry spell before another movie came along, filled in with TV appearances on Rawhide and Blue Light (a now-forgotten spy series that had Robert Goulet infiltrating the Nazis as a secret agent.)

1967's prison drama Cool Hand Luke presented some degree of irony. The star was Paul Newman, who Davalos had beaten for his role in East of Eden a dozen years before. Now, Newman was an actor of the highest echelon and had first pick of practically any script and director. Davalos was cast as an inmate and had no lines at all in the finished print, though he was visible for much of the time. Do we think this shot of Newman eating eggs on a dare (with Davalos in there somewhere?) is at all homoerotic?!

Two years later, at age thirty-nine, he costarred in the low-budget racetrack drama Pit Stop, with Brian Donlevy, Sid Haig and a newcomer named Ellen McRae (not the woman shown here; that's Beverly Washburn.) McRae would later become Ellen Burstyn. A well-regarded action flick despite its budget, Davalos is the one (taking a late cue from old costar Dean) playing the brash, rough, aggressive, take-no-prisoners antihero this time rather than depicting the polite and considerate type he once did.

He managed to win a role in the crowded 1970 Clint Eastwood war film Kelly's Heroes (which was something of a rip-off of The Dirty Dozen.) Once Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Carroll O'Connor and Don Rickles had their say, there wasn't too much left for Davalos. He next appeared in the cheap haunted house flick Blood Legacy (aka Legacy of Blood) as one of several relatives required to stay the night in a creepy house in order to collect their inheritance.

For the remainder of the '70s, Davalos kept busy on TV, though it is doubtful that most viewers realized that he had once been the youthful costar of East of Eden. He landed on many of the popular police and crime shows such as Petrocelli, S.W.A.T., The Blue Knight, The Rockford Files and Hawaii 5-O. In 1979, he had a small role in the Dom DeLuise-Suzanne Pleshette comedy Hot Stuff. At right are Dick, having put on some serious weight, and his diminutive, copycatting sidekick in the film. (They played illegal gun-runners who complicate the lives of - unlikely! - undercover cops DeLuise, Pleshette and Jerry Reed.) 

1980 brought the Roger Corman sci-fi extravaganza Battle Beyond the Stars. I have yet to see this opus, but I believe this is him covered in elaborate make-up as an evil alien. (Something in the eyes... er... eye!) He was, again, way down the cast list after Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, John Saxon, George Peppard and others. Same way with 1981's Death Hunt, which starred Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Andrew Stevens, Carl Weathers and Angie Dickinson.

In 1983, he showed up with a beard and even more weight on him in the Disney film Something Wicked This Way Comes, all about a carnival of evil that descends on a small town. The dark (for Disney) feature starred Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd and Pam Grier. Davalos would not work again on-screen for seven years (when an episode of Murder, She Wrote in 1990 brought him back, as it had so many other performers.)

Dick Davalos and his dancer-actress wife Ellen had two daughters together (six years apart) who became actresses as well. Dominique was primarily a singer, but made some film appearances (as a child in 1974's A Woman Under the Influence with Gena Rowlands - as well as with Ellen - and later Howard the Duck in 1986.) Elyssa Davalos (who strongly resembled her father, especially through the eyes) acted in movies and on TV from the early-'70s through the mid-2000s. She and her father both had roles in the 2003 Peter DeLuise comedy Between the Sheets. As of today, Dick last appeared in 2008's kitschy sex-comedy Ninja Cheerleaders, playing Michael Pare's Mafioso father.

The legacy he started as a performer, however, lives on now through his granddaughter (Alyssa's child) Alexa Davalos. See any resemblance in the bone structure? She has been a busy young actress since 2002 in movies like The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), the TV show Reunion (2005-2006) and Clash of the Titans in 2010. Perhaps she will eventually climb the heights that somehow eluded her once-promising grandfather. Dick Davalos is presently still with us at age eighty-one.

Moving on... (Sweet Jesus, why do I do this to myself?! ...And to you?!) We come to Barry. (Sorry, I just didn't know any Harry I wanted to profile, though I surely could have come up with several “Hairys!”) But I truly adore this Barry. The man is Barry Coe. Born in Santa Monica, California on November 26th, 1934, his original name was Barry Clark Heacock! His father Frank was killed in an automobile accident when Barry was five and when his mother remarried the same year, she changed her son's name to match his new stepfather's, Joseph Spalding Coe Jr. (Personally, I find this a little rude and/or selfish, but it's not the first time I've heard of such a thing, just perhaps not when the child is already five! Perhaps they still called him Barry?)

Barry had no particular show biz aspirations, but was a student at the University of Southern California in the midst of a trip to Palm Springs with members of his fraternity when fate stepped in. He was spotted by a talent scout and soon signed to a contract at 20th Century Fox. This isn't surprising since he possessed a strikingly beautiful face, soft and smooth, with sparkling eyes. He took the stage name of Barry Coe. This was in 1955 when he was about twenty-one.

He began to work in uncredited bit parts in the 1955 films House of Bamboo and How to Be, Very, Very Popular. He also earned the role of Raymond Massey's son in an installment of The 20th Century-Fox Hour (a redux of The Late George Apley, which had starred Ronald Coleman and Richard Ney in 1947.) The following year offered more of the same, cinema-wise, in D-Day the Sixth of June and On the Threshold of Space, though he was at least listed in the credits of the latter movie.

In 1956, he was given a supporting role (twelfth-billed) in the Elvis Presley Civil War drama Love Me Tender and had a bit part on the series Cheyenne (odd, because that was a Warner Brothers product.) Things were about to burst open for him, though, in 1957. It all had to do with the screen presentation of one of the hottest novels ever to hit bookstores.

20th Century Fox producer Jerry Wald was putting together Peyton Place, based on a scorching best seller that had taken the nation by storm. To fill out the large cast (built around star Lana Turner), he and director Mark Robson tested multiple young performers, though obviously leaning towards those under contract to the studio. Coe won the role of handsome, wealthy, popular Rodney Harrington, a good time guy who is the dream of every girl in town.

In a memorable scene, Coe attends a party at Turner's house while she isn't there and convinces her daughter (Diane Varsi) to play “The Photography Game.” In this “game,” you turn off the lights and see what develops! He's giving Varsi a smooch when an enraged Turner comes home and has a meltdown.

He also shared several scenes with his on-screen girlfriend Terry Moore, the fast party girl of the town who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his attention. (That's her next to the lamp at right.) His role is not a large one (in the subsequent TV series, the role of Rodney Harrington was a featured one, essayed by Ryan O'Neal), but the movie was a blockbuster hit and received nine Oscar nominations.

Oddly, his two films in 1958 didn't exploit the popularity he should have received from his presence in Peyton Place. He was fourth-billed in Thundering Jets, a drama about jet flyers, and was seventh-billed in The Bravados, a revenge western with Gregory Peck hunting down the men who raped and killed his wife. Coe's fiancee is kidnapped by the men Peck is after.

At least 1959 brought about a bit more exposure, though not all of it was meaningful. A Private's Affair was a quasi-musical about three young men in the army who compose a song that is deemed good enough to be performed on TV. Sal Mineo was the primary lead, with Coe, his love interest Christine Carere, Gary Crosby, Barbara Eden and Terry Moore along for the ride as well (and all shown above.) The film did manage to get all six young leads into their swimsuits for a sequence on the beach. Incidentally, Jim Backus and Bob Denver are both in the movie, too, years before being stranded together on Gilligan's Island.

He was in better company with that same year's But Not for Me, a Broadway-oriented comedy with Clark Gable, Lilli Palmer, Lee J. Cobb and Carroll Baker. In it, he was the fly in the ointment of a May-December romance between Gable and Baker, but it's okay because the more appropriate Palmer is in line to soothe Gable's potential heartache.

Coe was awarded a Golden Globe Award following these films as Most Promising Newcomer. It must have been a very promising time because he shared the award with Troy Donahue, James Shigeta and George Hamilton!

In 1960, Coe worked with Alan Ladd and Don Murray in One Foot in Hell, another revenge western, this time with Ladd blaming an entire town for the death of his wife. In the very silly and desperately cheap The Wizard of Baghdad, Coe played the handsome leading man opposite Diane Baker (not the woman pictured at left) who are aided in their romance and Arabian political intrigue by the title character, played by a mercilessly hammy Dick Shawn.

At least in this one, audiences got a glimpse of Coe's luscious chest during a wrestling match and also had the pleasure of seeing his cute li'l lower half in a series of colorful and snug trousers. This was a fretfully bad film, though, with only his and Baker's good looks to carry it across.

With that type of cinematic “momentum” facing him, it seemed wise to turn to television and the promise of a regular series. He and fellow Fox contractee Brett Halsey (who has his own tribute here elsewhere) starred in the 1961 show Follow the Sun, along with Gigi Perreau. The series concerned two free-lance magazine feature writers working out of Hawaii. He's shown on this comic book cover with Perreau and additional costar Gary Lockwood.

The series only lasted for 30 episodes, ending with cancellation in 1961. The chance to work on another, already established, series came along that same year when he was cast as Michael Landon's long-lost half-brother in an episode of Bonanza. It was proposed that he be added to the cast as a permanent fourth brother (or to replace the ever-threatening-to-depart Pernell Roberts), but in the end it didn't happen.

He costarred in another movie, The 300 Spartans, as a young warrior serving under Richard Egan and in love with his old costar from Baghdad Diane Baker. Here his hair was curled and fluffy, but the costumes afforded nice glimpses of his legs. While this movie is entertaining, it suffers somewhat from the inclusion of the cliched romance and from a lack of visceral intensity (something that was overcompensated for in the 2006 version of the same story, 300!)

After this, Coe was absent from both TV and movie screens for a couple of years. He met and married a Norwegian beauty queen named Jorunn Kristiansen and they would proceed to have two children together. His next appearance wasn't until 1965 when he played a pastor (with top-billing) in the little-known film A Letter to Nancy, concerning a little Chinese girl's effect on a wealthy lawyer's family. The picture at left is not from that movie!

He followed this up with a guest role on the Irwin Allen-produced, sci-fi series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, playing a submarine officer who is injured when the vessel he is on collides with a giant undersea spider web. It was a smallish role, secondary to that of fellow guest Peter Mark Richman.

Another family-oriented film followed with 1966's The Cat, a story about a young boy being lost in the wilderness at the same time as a killer wildcat is prowling the same territory. In it, he played the boy's father and was married to now-grown, former child star Peggy Ann Garner. That same year, he played the small role of a technician in the colorful sci-fi adventure Fantastic Voyage, relegated to the sidelines as Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch and others were shrunken to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a dying man.
By now, at only thirty-two years of age, Coe's acting career was in serious jeopardy. Hollywood was and still can be tough on its ex-pretty boys. He began to appear in print and television ads as Mr. Goodwrench and didn't act on camera again for four years! In 1970, he had a recurring role as an assistant director on Bracken's World, a series about the movie business. He then had a tiny role in an episode of Mission: Impossible.

To make ends meet, he played the non-role of the court clerk in Russ Meyer's cleavage-enhanced film The Seven Minutes. The story concerned an explosive obscenity trial. He's shown here swearing in witness Yvonne De Carlo. Based on a sultry novel, it was a rare serious film from sexploitation director Meyer and was an unexpected flop at the box office.

Preferring to actually act, even in dicey, low-budget material, rather than do almost nothing in more expensive films, he turned to horror flicks for a while. He joined leftover '50s stars Wanda Hendrix and Gisele MacKenzie in 1972's One Minute Before Death, all about spiritual possession during a will reading, and then did Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls in 1973. In that one, he played a man trying to revive his beloved dead wife through the aid of the title figure, played by John Considine.

In 1974, Coe began appearing on General Hospital as Joel Stratton, though even that did not last long. The following year, he guest-starred on the hit sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the same episode as Penny Marshall and Mary Kay Place. He portrayed reporters in the 1976 miniseries Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers and the 1977 feature film MacArthur (which starred his old Bravados costar Gregory Peck. A final appearance came in 1978 when he had a featured role in Jaws 2.

Coe was not desperate to perform any longer, however. He went into business for himself as the purveyor of nutritional supplements and enjoyed success in that field. He retired from the world of show biz, but remained in the desirable Brentwood, California community where he lives with his wife. He is seventy-seven years of age now and out of the acting game for well over thirty years.

So there are Tom, Dick and Barry, three hunks who somehow failed to make it to the top of their chosen craft, but who still managed to glean fans such as myself and others through their work (and, let's face it, their looks!) After this loooonng post (if you even got this far!), you may expect something easy like a photo-essay next time out!


John Gray said...

tom is more my type I think!!!

Michael O'Sullivan said...

Bravo - what a post on 3 of my favourites ... (plus Fabian of course and Troy). I caught a re-run of THE CARDINAL the other week, good to see Tom again - Barry Coe is terrific in THE 300 SPARTANS and I have always been intrigued by Davalos - the other brother role in EAST OF EDEN should have been great for him but Dean over shadowed him so much ... but at least that year he also got to swim with Tab even if the shark got to munch him !

Michael O'Sullivan said...

I have to add some more - your post shows how tough the acting business is, sometimes being a gorgeous hunk is not enough. Tom was lucky in being a successful writer - I have only read his "CRowned Heads" collection of stories (one of which was filmed by Billy Wilder as FEDORA). He worked too without being one of Henry Willson's boys!

It is a shame Dick and Barry didn't have bigger careers. I did not realise Davalos was in COOL HAND LUKE, ironic indeed in that Newman had tested for EAST OF EDEN - at least those tests are now available on the dvd, with costume tests etc.

Another bit player in COOL HAND LUKE of interest to me is Robert Drivas, another forgotten young actor (he died of Aids in the 80s) who had good roles in 1969's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN with Rod Steiger, where he gets naked, and WHERE ITS AT with David Jansson.

Good too to be reminded of THE STORY OF RUTH and A PRIVATE'S AFFAIR. I had forgotten those completely!

Could I make a tiny suggestion: have you considered or experimented with changing the blog background color, am I the only one finding the text hard to read sometimes ? or maybe I need my eyes testing!

Poseidon3 said...

The new blog interface offers different (and maybe fewer) colors for the text and I think this new one is lighter (even though I chose the darkest blue available!), thus making it harder to read. I will look into that ASAP! Hopefully, I can get some more contrast going and save your (and other peoples') eyes!

Michael O'Sullivan said...

hi again Poseidon - this new shade of blue is perfect - the text is now much easier to read as the contrast is greater and the background not as dark as it used to be. It makes the pictures look better too, so dont change a thing.

Thanks for that.


Poseidon3 said...

Great! I'm glad it's better.

Thombeau said...

Tom Tryon! He was my favorite author when I was a teen in the seventies, based both on his rather creepy books (The Other, Harvest Home, and Crowned Heads) and his pictures on the back covers. Even then, I sensed that he was gay. Or wished he was, anyway!

Sarah M said...

Hi! I just found this post.

Dick Davalos was also married to actress/dancer Ellen Davalos (nee' Ellen van der Hoeven). ELLEN is the mother of Elyssa and Dominique. Ellen danced for Martha Graham, was Isamu Noguchi's muse, and appeared on TV and movies. She was in 'The Interns' as Nick Adams's love interest and was also, I believe, in 'A Woman Under the Influence'.