Richard Egan (actor)

Richard Egan (July 29, 1921 – July 20, 1987) was an American actor. After beginning his career in 1949, he subsequently won a Golden Globe Award for his performances in the films The Glory Brigade (1953) and The Kid from Left Field (1953). He went on to star in many films such as Underwater! (1955), Seven Cities of Gold (1955), The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), Love Me Tender (1956), A Summer Place (1959), Esther and the King (1960) and The 300 Spartans (1962).

Richard Egan
Egan in 1949
Born(1921-07-29)July 29, 1921
DiedJuly 20, 1987(1987-07-20) (aged 65)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery
Other namesRichard Eagan
EducationSt. Ignatius College Preparatory
University of San Francisco
Stanford University
Years active1949–1987
Patricia Hardy
(m. 1958; his death 1987)


Early life

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Egan graduated from St. Ignatius College Preparatory.[1] He won a public speaking competition in 1938 that helped fire his interest in performing. He was supported by his brother who was a priest.[2][3]

Egan was interested in drama and studied it while doing a BA at the University of San Francisco. He left in 1943 and served in the United States Army as a judo and knife fighting instructor during World War II. He served a year in the Philippines and was discharged with the rank of captain.[4]

"The war had given me time to think," he later said, "and to decide what I really wanted to do. I think I had always been an actor in my mind, but now I was going to be one in public, too. Right out in front of everybody."[1]

He earned a master's degree in theater history at Stanford University and taught public speaking at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern he appeared in thirty campus stage productions. He was also spotted by a Warner Bros talent scout, Solly Bioano, who encouraged him to try Hollywood.[4]

Early acting career

Egan had a series of unsuccessful screen tests. He eventually got a bit role in the 1949 Hollywood film The Story of Molly X, at Universal. He had a small roles in The Good Humor Man (1950), at Columbia; The Damned Don't Cry (1950) (as Joan Crawford's husband) and Return of the Frontiersman (1950), at Warners; and The Killer That Stalked New York (1950), at Columbia.


In June 1950 Egan signed a contract with Universal.[5] There he had supporting roles in Wyoming Mail (1950), Undercover Girl (1950),[6] Kansas Raiders (1950), Up Front (1951); Highway 301 (1950); Bright Victory (1951); and Up Front (1951). Egan later described these roles as saying things like "Charlie, go outside! The horses are ready."[3]

He had a role in Hollywood Story (1951), directed by William Castle, and the swashbuckler The Golden Horde (1951), where he was fourth billed.

Egan was also in Flame of Araby (1951) and The Battle at Apache Pass (1952).[7]

Edward Small cast him in a support role in Cripple Creek (1952). Egan went to RKO for One Minute to Zero (1952)[8] and MGM for The Devil Makes Three (1952), shot in Germany.[3] He did "Let George Do It" on TV for Hollywood Opening Night (1952).

Egan had support roles in RKO's Blackbeard the Pirate (1952) and Split Second (1953).

Egan supported Victor Mature in The Glory Brigade (1953), a war movie at 20th Century Fox, then had a small part in The Kid from Left Field (1953). He did "Malaya Incident" and "Double Bet" for Ford Television Theatre(1953).

Egan's career received a boost when a casting director, according to Egan, said "Take off your shirt!", and then cast him in a small role in Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954), as a gladiator who fights Victor Mature.[4]

This led to Egan's first leading role, in Edward Small's Wicked Woman (1953). On TV he did "Go Away a Winner" for Schiltz Playhouse (1954), then had another lead in a low budget movie, Gog (1954), produced by Ivan Tors.

Small used him as a leading man again in Khyber Patrol (1954). He was used by RKO to costar with Jane Russell in Underwater! (1955), a notorious flop. However it led to Hedda Hopper declaring Egan to be one of the most promising actors of 1954.[9]

20th Century Fox

In July 1954, Darryl F. Zanuck of Fox offered Egan a seven-year contract at two films a year.[3]

Egan was third billed in Fox's Untamed (1955), supporting Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward, taking a role that Victor Mature turned down.[10] He was second billed in Fox's Violent Saturday (1955), directed by Richard Fleischer, starring Mature. The film was a success.

Fox announced him for Women in the Woods with Sheree North and Rita Moreno but it was not made.[11]


Egan was top billed in Fox's Seven Cities of Gold (1955), an adventure film. He had the star part in The View from Pompey's Head (1955), which was well received.

He starred in The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), opposite Jane Russell again (playing a part turned down by Marilyn Monroe).

Egan went to RKO for a Western, Tension at Table Rock (1956).[12] He followed this with another Western at Fox, Love Me Tender (1956), where Egan was top billed. It was a success at the box office. However this was attributed to the third-billed actor who played Egan's brother, Elvis Presley, whose first film it was. The success of the film saw Egan voted as the 13th biggest star in the US according to an exhibitor poll.[13]

Egan signed a contract with Universal where he made Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957), and Voice in the Mirror (1958).

Back at Fox Egan supported Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner in The Hunters (1958), and Don Murray in These Thousand Hills (1959).

Egan had another hit with A Summer Place (1959) at Warner Bros. However again attention focused on younger cast members, Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.

In 1960, Egan appeared with Jane Wyman and Hayley Mills in Disney's Pollyanna. He co-starred with Joan Collins in Fox's Esther and the King (1960).

Egan was Rod Serling's first choice to narrate The Twilight Zone, because of his distinctive voice. However, contractual issues got in the way, and Serling narrated instead, rather than select any actor other than his first choice.

Egan played the lead role of Leonidas I in Fox's The 300 Spartans (1962).


Egan starred in the NBC western dramatic series, Empire, which aired from September 25, 1962 to December 31, 1963. In the shortened second season, the program was renamed Redigo after Egan's character, ranch manager Jim Redigo.

When the series ended Egan starred in a TV thriller Fanfare for a Death Scene (1964). He did "Massacre at Fort Phil Kearney" for Theatre of Stars (1966) and the TV movie Valley of Mystery (1967).

In 1966 he said "They want anti-heroes now, and it's just not for me. I'm just not right for that. It's much easier to be cynical than to make a positive statement, to set up a man only to knock him down, than to show convincingly a man who successfully sticks by his beliefs. We desperately need something to give strength and fortitude to the lost. I want to be a part of that. Part of the solution. And if I can't . . . well . . . I'm sure not interested in becoming part of the problem instead."[1]

Egan had the lead in some lowbudget films, Chubasco (1968) and The Destructors (1969) and a support part in The Big Cube (1969).

Egan had the lead in Moonfire (1970) and co-starred with Barbara Stanwyck in The House That Would Not Die.

He had the lead in the TV movie The Day of the Wolves (1971) and a support part in Left Hand of Gemini (1972) and Shootout in a One Dog Town (1974).

Later career

Egan began guest starring on TV series like The Streets of San Francisco, Matt Helm, The Quest, and Police Story.

He had a lead in Throw Out the Anchor! (1974).

In 1974 he returned to the stage and for the next 8 years toured extensively in stage productions starting with No Hard Feelings.[14] (1974 until 1976). In 1976 he appeared in Time Out For Ginger, 1976 to 1979 in Hanky Panky, 1979 to 1981 in Broken Up [15] and 1982 in I Ought To Be In Pictures.[16]

Egan had the lead in a TV movie, Mission to Glory: A True Story (1977), and supported Robert Mitchum in The Amsterdam Kill (1977) and starred in the low budget Western The Sweet Creek County War (1979).

In 1982 Egan joined the cast for the new daytime television political drama Capitol which ran for several years.

Personal life

Egan met his wife, the former Patricia Hardy, in 1956.[17] The couple married in June 1958 and remained together for almost 30 years until his death.[17] They had five children, including son Rich Egan, the founder of Vagrant Records, daughter Maureen Egan, a writer and director, as well as Patricia, Kathleen, and Colleen.[17]

Egan was respected within the acting community for having helped a number of young actors get their first break in the film industry. One of those young actors was Ryan O'Neal. He worked out at the same gym as Egan, who got him credited work in four episodes of Empire.

Richard Egan died in Santa Monica, California, on July 20, 1987, of prostate cancer, nine days before his 66th birthday. He is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Partial filmography


  1. Thackery Jr., Ted (July 22, 1987) "Richard Egan, 65, Dies; Portrayed Rugged Heroes." Los Angeles Times. (Retrieved 12-9-2013.)
  2. Make Room for Dick Egan--HE'S ON HIS WAY!: Husky Californian Has Acting Ability and a Virile Charm Which Spell Success in Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]16 Jan 1955: k27.
  3. END OF ECLIPSE FOR AN EAGER EGAN By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]27 Mar 1955: X5.
  4. Actor Muscles Way Into Fatter Roles: Richard Egac Muscles Way Into Fatter Roles Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]02 Aug 1953: D1.
  5. STUDIO BRIEFS Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]07 June 1950: B6.
  6. COWAN TO PRODUCE A COMEDY FEATURE: 'The Customer Is Always Right' Will Be Filmed Here Using 3-Dimensional Process By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]11 July 1950: 25.
  7. Drama: Gaynor Star Build-up Proceeds; 'County Line' Adds Paula Raymond Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]21 June 1951: A9.
  8. Drama-Arts: WAR ERUPTS IN COLORADOIN MOVIE BUT STILL GRIM Strong, Edwin J. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]08 June 1952: E1.
  9. FILM STARS OF 1955!: Future Stars Are Rich in Talent! Hedda Hopper Names Eighteen Likely Candidates for 1955 Honors Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]02 Jan 1955: k14.
  10. "M-G-M TO MAKE 27 FILMS IN YEAR: 8 Movies Will Start Within 60 Days -- Three Broadway Plays on Studio Schedule" Special to The New York Times. New York Times 4 August 1954: 17.
  11. ' WOMAN OF WOODS' ON FOX' SCHEDULE: Sheree North, Richard Egan, Rita Moreno Will Have Top Roles in Northwest Film By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]09 Feb 1955: 32.
  12. Drama: Richard Egan WinsBig Western Role Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]23 Feb 1956: A8.
  13. Dick to Stick By the Flicks By Richard L. Coe. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959); Washington, D.C. [Washington, D.C]30 Oct 1957: D6.
  14. Theater: Egan: The finish hasn't worn off Daniels, Mary. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]14 Apr 1974: e18.
  15. Classic Hero Supports Old-Fashioned Attitudes; Wilkinson, Arizona Republic 25 Jan 1980
  16. Name of the Game is Hustle For Visiting Veteran Actor; Anna Dooling Albuquerque Journal 21 May 1982
  17. Barnes, Mike (2011-08-30). "Actress Patricia Hardy Dies at 80 - Star of films, TV shows in the 1950s was married to veteran actor Richard Egan". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
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