Joel Dee McCrea, known as Jody McCrea (September 6, 1934 – April 4, 2009), was an American film and television actor. He was the oldest of the three sons of veteran film actors Joel McCrea and Frances Dee.
Jody McCrea (left) with father, Joel, in Wichita Town, 1959
Joel Dee McCrea
September 6, 1934
|Died||April 4, 2009 (aged 74)|
|Other names||Joel D. McCrea|
Joel Dee McCrea
Dusty Ironwing McCrea
(m. 1976; her death 1996)
|Relatives||Brothers David McCrea and Peter McCrea|
McCrea had small roles in his father's film, Wichita (1955). He was also in Lucy Gallant (1955). While still at UCLA he had the lead role in Johnny Moccasin (1956), a half hour film made for television by Laslo Benedek as a white boy raised by Indians after a massacre. McCrea followed this with a good supporting role in a feature starring his father, The First Texan (1956).
McCrea studied under Sanford Meisner for two years in New York City. He appeared on television in Chevron Hall of Stars ("Flowers for Charlie McDaniels"), The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show ("Return to California", "George's Gray Suit", "Fighting for Happiness"), Conflict ("No Man's Road" with Gig Young and Dennis Hopper), Studio One in Hollywood ("Babe in the Woods" - The New York Times said that "his playing was not too resourceful"), Sergeant Preston of the Yukon ("The Criminal Collie"), and Kraft Theatre ("The Last of the Belles").
He had a supporting role in Naked Gun (1956), and The Monster That Challenged the World (1957). He made Trooper Hook (1957) and Gunsight Ridge (1957) with his father and was one of several young names in Lafayette Escadrille (1958) and The Restless Years (1958).
In 1959, McCrea costarred with his father in the short-lived NBC western Wichita Town, set in Wichita, Kansas. Joel McCrea appeared as Marshal Mike Dunbar. Jody McCrea did not portray the role of Joel's son on the program but as the deputy marshal, Ben Matheson.
McCrea had a small role in All Hands on Deck (1961) and could be seen in the episode, "The Wrestler" on the ABC situation comedy, Guestward Ho!, starring Joanne Dru. He toured the country with The Tiger a production from Moral Rearmament. He did The Moon is Blue and Look Homeward Angel in stock.
McCrea was cast as Lieutenant (later General) John J. Pershing in the 1962 episode, "To Walk with Greatness", on the syndicated television anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. In the story line, three outlaws endanger an Indian treaty, as Pershing sets forth to find the men. Frank Ferguson was cast in the episode as Colonel Carr.
Beach Party filmsEdit
McCrea had a support role in Operation Bikini (1963) at American International Pictures starring Tab Hunter and Frankie Avalon. He impressed the studio enough for them to cast him in a comedic role as dumb-minded "Deadhead" ("Bonehead") in Beach Party (1963) starring Avalon and Annette Funicello.
When cast in the beach pictures, he realized his comedic potential. When first offered the role of "Deadhead", for example, he was quoted at the time as saying that he "wasn't sure what the character would become". McCrea felt that the audience enjoyed Deadhead as they felt superior to him.
McCrea was an avid body builder, and the only actor appearing in the American International Pictures beach movies who could actually surf.
The film was a big hit and after appearing in Law of the Lawless (1964) and The Greatest Show on Earth ("Clancy"), McCrea reprised his performance as Deadhead in Muscle Beach Party (1964) and Bikini Beach (1964).
He recorded a 45 rpm single in 1964 for Canjo Records to coincide with the film Bikini Beach (Side A: "Chicken Surfer"/Side B: "Looney Gooney Bird"). He also wrote a script Stage to Nowhere which appears not to have been made.
McCrea had a small part in Young Fury (1965) and played Lieutenant Brannin, a cocky cavalry officer based loosely on George Armstrong Custer, in Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee (1965), but his scene was deleted from the final cut. He also appeared in Wagon Train ("The Betsy Blee Smith Story"), before returning to AIP beach movies with Beach Blanket Bingo (1965). McCrea played "Bonehead", again the same character - but it was his biggest role in the series, having a romance with a mermaid.
McCrea guest starred on Vacation Playhouse ("Three on an Island") and Pistols 'n' Petticoats ("The Pilot"). He had a lead role as a biker in The Glory Stompers (1967), and starred in Sam (1967) for Larry Buchanan. He was a judge on Dream Girl of '67.
Later career and deathEdit
McCrea became a rancher in Roswell, New Mexico. He came out of retirement to appear in 1981 in Lady Street Fighter.
He died in 2009 of a heart attack at the age of seventy-four. He was married to the former Dusty Ironwing from 1976 until her death in 1996. He is survived by brothers David and Peter.
|Lucy Gallant||Tom Dunning||Uncredited|
Alternative title: Oil Town
|1956||The First Texan||Lt. Baker|
|Naked Gun||Young man||Alternative title: The Hanging Judge|
|1957||The Monster That Challenged the World||Seaman Fred Johnson|
|Trooper Hook||Trooper Whittaker||Uncredited|
|1958||Lafayette Escadrille||Tom Hitchcock||Alternative titles: C'est la guerre|
Hell Bent for Glory
With You in My Arms
|The Restless Years||Bruce Mitchell||Alternative title: The Wonderful Years|
|1961||All Hands on Deck||Lt. J.G. Schuyler|
|Force of Impulse||Phil Anderson|
|1962||The Broken Land||Deputy Ed Flynn|
|Young Guns of Texas||Jeff Shelby|
|1963||Operation Bikini||Seaman William Sherman||Alternative title: The Seafighters|
|1964||Law of the Lawless||George Stapleton||Alternative title: Invitation to a Hanging|
|Muscle Beach Party||Deadhead|
|Pajama Party||Big Lunk|
|Major Dundee||Lt. Brannin||Uncredited|
|Beach Blanket Bingo||Bonehead|
|How to Stuff a Wild Bikini|
|1967||The Glory Stompers||Darryl|
|Sam||Alternative title: The Hottest Fourth of July in the History of Brewster County|
|1969||Scream Free!||Agent No. 1||Credited as Joel Dee McCrea|
Alternative titles: Free Grass
|1970||The Girls from Thunder Strip||Pike|
|Cry Blood, Apache||Pitcalin||Producer|
|1981||Lady Streetfighter||Pollitt||Credited as Joel D. McCrea, (final film role)|
|1956||Chevron Hall of Stars||Danny||1 episode|
|1957||Studio One||Bobby Applegate||1 episode|
|1958||Sergeant Preston of the Yukon||Jerry Turner||1 episode|
|Kraft Television Theatre||1 episode|
|1959||Wichita Town||Deputy Ben Matheson||4 episodes|
|1959||Jukebox Jury||"Juror" commenting on latest release by the Kingston Trio—Raspberries, Strawberries||1 episode|
|1961||Guestward, Ho!||Danny "Brave Eagle"||1 episode|
|1962||Death Valley Days||Lt. John F. Pershing||1 episode|
|1964||The Greatest Show on Earth||Patrick Kelly||1 episode|
|1965||Wagon Train||Calvin||1 episode|
|Vacation Playhouse||Julius "Bulldog" Sweetley||1 episode|
- "Jody McCrea, Actor in 'Beach Party' Films, Dies at 74". The New York Times. April 17, 2009.
- By, C. D. (1956, Jun 17). Disney's got fans talking. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/148794773
- Anderson, R. (1959, Nov 15). His career is at crossroads. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/182400213
- By, J. G. (1957, May 14). TV review. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114244161
- By, J. P. (1958, Jun 05). TV review. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114607799
- Tepper, R. (1959, Sep 27). Jody McCrea hitches up with dad. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167514663
- Hopper, H. (1961, Apr 11). Looking at hollywood. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/182882573
- Hopper, H. (1960, Oct 01). Metro sets three cinerama movies. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167807467
- "To Walk with Greatness on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
- "The Tide Goes Out for 'Beach Party'". Cinema Retro. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
- SEIDENBAUM, A. (1964, Apr 01). SPECTATOR, 1964. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/168553557
- Hopper, H. (1964, Nov 20). Son of mel ferrer has 'boaring' job. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/155028233
- Ann Sheridan due in western spoof. (1965, Dec 08). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/155393124
- From Journal staff, a. w. (1996, Apr 04). 'WINDWALKER' ACTRESS MCCREA DIES AFTER 20 YEARS OF DIABETES. Albuquerque Journal Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/323823372