There are many, many wonderful things about the golden age of Hollywood. But for me, if I had to pick one thing that really defines the era, it would be Rory Calhoun’s work. The man is a true legend, and he’s one of my favorite actors who gets criminally overlooked.
To celebrate Calhoun, I’ve put together a list of nine signs you’re an expert on Rory Calhoun movie, the ultimate indicators that you get his movies:
1. You’ve spent hours watching clips on YouTube.
“Rory, I love you and have watched all of your movies multiple times. Please come back to Hollywood and make more movies! We need you!” – an actual comment from Rory’s official YouTube channel, which has over 40,000 subscribers . Several of Calhoun’s films have become genuine classics, and for hardcore fans like myself (no joke—I own an autographed picture of him that I bought online), it’s hard not to want to re-watch his work again and again.
2. You’ve read several articles about him on the internet.
No kidding—I’m always finding something new on Google about Rory Calhoun every day. I’d say over half the stuff I read about him is from the last year or two. He’s managed to maintain a great life after Hollywood, and people are starting to wonder what he’s been up to lately. Articles on him pop up every few months, and I always look forward to reading them, because they always turn out to be so fascinating.
3. You know all of his wives’ names and have looked at their pictures online.
Rory married five times in his life, most notably to actress Beverly Michaels (who played Linda in the classic sci-fi film The Day The Earth Stood Still ). I think everyone saw this one coming. If you’re a fan of Calhoun’s work, you’re probably a fan of his wives’ work too. And it’s not hard to see why—Beverly played some pretty badass characters in her day. Her most famous role has to be “Queen Jaydes” from the ’80s cult classic The Sword and the Sorcerer . She was also in The Omega Man , a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film starring Charlton Heston (and co-starring Calhoun).
4. You’ve pondered what movie Rory would have made after his last one in 1982, Summer Lovers .
This is a really tough one. Rory’s last film was the infamous Summer Lovers , a drama about an older couple visiting Greece to rekindle their romance, only to find that the encounter isn’t what they expected. It was released in 1982, and it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t planning on making any more movies after it. But I’ve wondered what he would have done if given another chance. Because of his talent and charisma, there would have been plenty of opportunities for him to take on some different roles and make a comeback—maybe as a crazy villain or something like that. Wouldn’t it have been great to see him as a bad guy?
5. You’re a fan of his music, too.
Not just his movies, but his music. His voice is so smooth and cool; he has a timeless sound that’s still great to listen to these days. I’ve heard Calhoun sing both on film and in real life, and I think he could have made an even bigger splash with a full-fledged musical career than he did with acting alone—and he may have thought so too if Hollywood hadn’t come calling first (he was originally signed to Republic Pictures’ singing division).
One of the most unforgettable things about Calhoun’s singing career is a performance he did in 1961. He was already a full-fledged star (at the time, he was the second most famous person in Hollywood), and he sang at the very first Academy Awards ceremony. In order to avoid having to fly back with his train, he rode a horse all the way from Tennessee, which is how he got an invite to perform at the Oscars. He ended up winning Best Actor for his role as Roy Munson in The Great Race , and sang “That Old Black Magic” (which was released by RCA Victor as a single).
6. You’re familiar with his nicknames, both real and imagined.
One of the most famous nicknames Rory Calhoun was ever called was “Baldie”. He didn’t get a head of hair until he was in his late 30s. But the man wasn’t bald at all. He’d always had some kind of hairstyle, and it just got so long while he was filming The Magnificent Seven that people started calling him “Baldie ”. I guess one person thought there was an odd resemblance between him and a bald man, so that’s why this nickname stuck. [NOTE: It actually does look like he’s got a really high forehead.
Rory was a great actor and he performed some outstanding roles. His movies are among the greatest classics in film history. He is truly one of the greatest actors ever to walk the face of the earth and should be remembered for his outstanding work as much as anyone else since Charlie Chaplin.