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Herbert Alonzo "Lon" McCallister Jr. (April 17, 1923 – June 11, 2005) was an American actor. According to one obituary, he was best known for "playing gentle, boyish young men from the country."[1] Another said he "had an ingenuous appeal that made him a favourite of family audiences, and was particularly at home in outdoor settings featuring dogs and horses. Ultimately his perennial boyishness and slight stature became a handicap for more mature roles."[2]

Lon McCallister
LonMcCallisterStageDoorCanteen.jpg
From the film Stage Door Canteen (1943)
Born
Herbert Alonzo McCallister, Jr.

(1923-04-17)April 17, 1923
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJune 11, 2005(2005-06-11) (aged 82)
Years active1936–1963
Partner(s)William Eythe

BiographyEdit

Early careerEdit

Born in Los Angeles, Lon McCallister was the son of a real estate broker. He attended Marken Professional School, which trained children for show-business careers and began appearing in movies at the age of 13. He had uncredited appearances in Let's Sing Again (1936) and Romeo and Juliet (1936), directed by George Cukor who, gave McAllister a large close up, and became a friend. [2]

He was uncredited in Stella Dallas (1937), Souls at Sea (1937), Make a Wish (1937), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), Judge Hardy's Children (1938), Lord Jeff (1938), That Certain Age (1938), Little Tough Guys in Society (1939), The Spirit of Culver (1939), Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), Babes in Arms (1939), First Love (1939), and Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President (1939).[3][4]

McCallister could also be glimpsed in Susan and God (1940), Henry Aldrich for President (1941), Dangerously They Live (1941), Always in My Heart (1942), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Spy Ship (1942), Night in New Orleans (1942), That Other Woman (1942), Gentleman Jim (1942), Quiet Please: Murder (1942), Over My Dead Body (1942), The Hard Way (1943), and The Meanest Man in the World (1943). Columnist Hedda Hopper called him "the cutest boy the movies have hauled up out of obscurity since Mickey Rooney."[2]

StardomEdit

 
Lon McCallister (center) with Michael Harrison and Katharine Cornell in Stage Door Canteen (1943)

At 20, he appeared in the World War II morale booster Stage Door Canteen, where he played a star struck serviceman with theater actress and producer Katharine Cornell.[3] The Los Angeles Times said he stole the film with "his bashful smile and winning ways".[5]

McCallister leapt to fame playing the lead as Sparke in the horse-racing tale Home in Indiana (1944), also starring Walter Brennan and Jeanne Crain. This led to a contract with 20th Century Fox.[6] He followed it with Winged Victory (1944) but then his career momentum was interrupted by war service.

Growing only to 5'6" he found it difficult to find roles as an adult. He appeared with Edward G. Robinson in 1947's The Red House and had the star role in Thunder in the Valley (1947), and supported June Haver in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948).[7]

McCallister had the lead in another animal story The Big Cat (1949) and co-starred with Shirley Temple in The Story of Seabiscuit (1949). He was in The Boy from Indiana (1950).

TelevisionEdit

McCallister began appearing on TV in episodes of Suspense ("Lunch Box", "Collector's Item"), and Lux Video Theatre ("Down Bayou DuBac").

He had the lead in Sam Katzman's A Yank in Korea (1951) and a Western, Montana Territory (1952).[8] However he was mostly seen in TV: Tales of Tomorrow ("Verdict from Space"), "The Last Man on Earth", ("Enemy Unknown"), The Ford Television Theatre ("My Daughter's Husband"), Schlitz Playhouse ("Operation Riviera"), and Footlights Theater ("My Daughter's Husband"). His last feature film was Combat Squad (1953).

McCallister and William Eythe were producers of the stage musical revue "Lend an Ear," which began at Los Angeles' Las Palmas Theater and launched Carol Channing's career.[1]

Post-acting careerEdit

In 1953, at the age of 30, McCallister retired from acting. Later, he became a successful real estate manager, wealthy from his investments.[2]

After retirement, he still appeared in two television series, as Coley Wilks in the 1961 episode "The Hostage" of the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams, and as Willie in the 1963 episode "Triple Indemnity" of the CBS sitcom, The New Phil Silvers Show.[9] In 1963 he said, "I"m happy. I'm doing what I want."[10]

In a 1992 interview, McCallister said: "Being a movie star was great, but I never considered doing it for a lifetime. I wanted to be myself, to go where I pleased without causing a traffic jam. I've succeeded in this, and I'm happy."[3]

Personal lifeEdit

He was a long time romantic partner of fellow actor William Eythe, up until Eythe's death in 1957.[11]

Lon McCallister died from congestive heart failure at the age of 82.[12]

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1936 Let's Sing Again Orphan Uncredited
1936 Romeo and Juliet Minor Role Uncredited
1937 Stella Dallas Boy Uncredited
1937 Souls at Sea Cabin Boy Uncredited
1937 Make a Wish Summer Camp Kid Uncredited
1938 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Schoolboy Uncredited
1938 Judge Hardy's Children Uncredited
1938 Lord Jeff Uncredited
1938 That Certain Age Billy Uncredited
1938 Little Tough Guys in Society Uncredited
1939 The Spirit of Culver Cadet Uncredited
1939 Confessions of a Nazi Spy Uncredited
1939 Babes in Arms Boy Uncredited
1939 First Love Boy at School Uncredited
1939 Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President Johnny Uncredited
1940 Susan and God Party Guest Uncredited
1941 Henry Aldrich for President Student Uncredited
1941 Dangerously They Live Newsboy Uncredited
1942 Always in My Heart Boy Uncredited
1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy Call Boy Uncredited
1942 Spy Ship Telegram Messenger Boy Uncredited
1942 Night in New Orleans Boy in Car Uncredited
1942 That Other Woman George Borden
1942 Gentleman Jim Page Boy Uncredited
1942 Quiet Please, Murder Freddie, the Stack Boy Uncredited
1942 Over My Dead Body Jimmie
1943 The Hard Way Bud - Call Boy in Montage Uncredited
1943 The Meanest Man in the World Bellboy Uncredited
1943 Stage Door Canteen California Jack Gilman
1944 Home in Indiana 'Sparke' Thornton
1944 Winged Victory Francis William 'Frankie' Davis
1947 The Red House Nath Storm
1947 Thunder in the Valley David MacAdam
1948 Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! Daniel 'Snug' Dominy
1949 The Big Cat Danny Turner
1949 The Story of Seabiscuit Ted Knowles
1950 The Boy from Indiana Lon Decker
1951 A Yank in Korea Andy Smith
1952 Montana Territory John Malvin
1953 Combat Squad Martin

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Obituaries: LON MCCALLISTER Anonymous. Variety; Los Angeles Vol. 399, Iss. 5, (Jun 20-Jun 26, 2005): 44.
  2. ^ a b c d OBITUARY: LON MCCALLISTER ; Actor of perennial boyishness: [First Edition] Vallance, Tom. The Independent 1 July 2005: 47.
  3. ^ a b c LON McCALLISTER, 82 The Globe and Mail 1 July 2005: S.7.
  4. ^ Lon McCallister, 82, Hollywood Actor of the 40's: [Obituary (Obit)] New York Times 22 June 2005: 17.
  5. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: McCrea to Act Doctor Role in Field Story Laughton Will join Cast of 'Dragon Seed;' Lon McCallister Set for Film at 20th Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 10 Aug 1943: 11.
  6. ^ "The SCREEN". The Mercury. CLVIII (22, 780). Tasmania, Australia. 4 December 1943. p. 12. Retrieved 30 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Hollywood REPORTS". Lithgow Mercury (CITY ed.). New South Wales, Australia. 13 January 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 30 December 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Drama: Bruce Bennett Obtains Scientific Subject; Lon McCallister Gets Break Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 20 Sep 1951: A9.
  9. ^ "Lon McCallister". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  10. ^ Lon's Back as Silvers' Guest Star Chicago Tribune 10 Nov 1963: w13.
  11. ^ Mann, William (2001). Behind the screen: how gays and lesbians shaped Hollywood, 1910–1969. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-03017-1.
  12. ^ Obituary: Lon McCallister: Child and teen actor: 'the cutest boy the movies hauled up out of obscurity' Bergan, Ronald. The Guardian 9 July 2005: 21.

External linksEdit