Alan Hale Sr.

Alan Hale Sr. (born Rufus Edward Mackahan; February 10, 1892 – January 22, 1950) was an American movie actor and director, most widely remembered for his many supporting character roles, in particular as a frequent sidekick of Errol Flynn, as well as films supporting Lon Chaney, Wallace Beery, Douglas Fairbanks, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, and Ronald Reagan, among dozens of others.

Alan Hale Sr.
Hale in 1921
Rufus Edward Mackahan

(1892-02-10)February 10, 1892
Washington, D.C., US
DiedJanuary 22, 1950(1950-01-22) (aged 57)
Hollywood, California
OccupationActor, director
Years active1899–1950
Gretchen Hartman
(m. 1914; his death 1950)
Children3, including Alan Hale Jr.


Hale was born Rufus Edward Mackahan in Washington, D.C. He studied to be an opera singer and also had success as an inventor. Among his innovations were a sliding theater chair (to allow spectators to slide back to admit newcomers rather than standing), the hand fire extinguisher, and greaseless potato chips.[1][2][3]

His first film role was in the 1911 silent movie The Cowboy and the Lady. He became a leading man while working in 1913-1915 for the Biograph Company in their special feature film productions sponsored and controlled by Marc Klaw and Abraham Erlanger. Later, he became more of a character actor; he played "Little John" in the 1922 film Robin Hood, with Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery, reprised the role 16 years later in the 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, then played him yet again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest in 1950 with John Derek as Robin Hood's son, an unprecedented 28-year span of portrayals of the same character in theatrical films. Hale played Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), featuring in a pivotal confrontation with the Earl of Essex, portrayed by Flynn.

His other films include the 1922 epic The Trap with Lon Chaney, 1928's Skyscraper; as well as Fog Over Frisco with Bette Davis; Miss Fane's Baby Is Stolen with Baby LeRoy and William Frawley; The Little Minister with Katharine Hepburn; and It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert; all released in 1934; the 1937 film Stella Dallas with Barbara Stanwyck; High, Wide, and Handsome with Irene Dunne and Dorothy Lamour; The Fighting 69th with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien; They Drive By Night with George Raft and Humphrey Bogart; Manpower with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich, and George Raft; Virginia City with Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott, and Humphrey Bogart; and as the cantankerous Sgt. McGee in the 1943 movie This Is the Army with Irving Berlin. He also co-starred with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in the successful western film Dodge City (1939) where he played the slightly dimwitted but likeable and comical Rusty Hart, sidekick to Flynn's character, Sheriff Wade Hatton. Hale co-starred with Errol Flynn in 13 movies.[4]

Hale directed eight movies during the 1920s and 1930s and acted in 235 theatrical films.

Personal life

Hale's wife of over 30 years was Gretchen Hartman (1897–1979), a former child actress, silent film player, and mother of their three children.[5]

He was the father of actor Alan Hale Jr., best known as "the Skipper" on television's Gilligan's Island.[5] Father and son closely resembled one another, leading to occasional confusion after Hale Sr.'s death when Hale Jr. dropped the Jr. from his name. Hale Sr. and Hale Jr. both played the same character, Porthos the musketeer, in movies 40 years apart. Alan Hale Sr. played the character in the 1939 film Man in the Iron Mask, while Alan Hale Jr. played him in The Fifth Musketeer in 1979.

Alan Hale Sr. died in Hollywood, California, on January 22, 1950, following a liver ailment and viral infection. He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California, next to his wife.


See also

Biography portal


  1. "Hobbies of the Hollywood Stars". Popular Mechanics. 63 (3): 372-374. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  2. Juran, Robert A. (September 1, 1995). Old Familiar Faces. Movie Memories. p. 100. ISBN 978-0964634008.
  3. Variety, January 25, 1950
  4. Gatti, Annmarie (February 10, 2015). "Errol Flynn and his Trusty Sidekick Alan Hale". Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  5. "Alan Hale (Jr.) MacKahan & Bettina Reed Doerr Marriage Certificate".

Alan Hale Sr. at Find a Grave

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