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Jeff Chandler (actor)


Jeff Chandler was an American film actor and
singer in the 1950s, best remembered for playing Cochise in Broken Arrow, and for being one
of Universal International’s most popular male stars of the decade. Early life
Chandler was born Ira Grossel to a Jewish family in the Brooklyn borough of New York
City, the only child of Anna and Phillip Grossel. He was raised by his mother after his parents
separated when he was a child. He attended Erasmus Hall High School, the
alma mater of many stage and film personalities. His father was connected with the restaurant
business and got his son a job as a restaurant cashier. Chandler said he always wanted to act, but
courses for commercial art were cheaper, so he studied art for a year and worked as a
layout artist for a mail order catalogue. Chandler eventually saved up enough money
to take a drama course at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York. He worked briefly in radio, then got a job
in a stock company on Long Island as an actor and stage manager. He worked for two years in stock companies,
acting in a performance of The Trojan Horse with Gordon MacRae and his wife. Chandler formed his own company, the Shady
Lane Playhouse, in Illinois in 1941. This toured the Midwest with some success
before the war came along. He served in World War II for four years,
mostly in the Aleutians, finishing with the rank of lieutenant. His enlistment record for the Cavalry on November
18, 1941 gave his height as six foot four inches and his weight as 210 pounds. Radio
After being discharged from the military, Chandler moved to Los Angeles with $3,000
he had saved and soon found work as a radio actor. He appeared in episodes of anthology drama
series such as Escape and Academy Award Theater, and became well known for playing the lead
in Michael Shayne and bashful biology teacher Phillip Boynton on Our Miss Brooks. Chandler was the first actor to portray Chad
Remington in Frontier Town. In 1945 he was involved in a serious car accident
on the way to a screen test which resulted in a large scar on his forehead. Chandler had acted on radio in Rogue’s Gallery
with Dick Powell, who was impressed enough to give the actor his first film role, a one-line
part as a gangster in Johnny O’Clock. His performance as Boynton in Our Miss Brooks
brought him to the attention of executives at Universal, who were looking for someone
to play an Israeli leader in Sword in the Desert. Chandler was cast and impressed the studio
so much he ended up being signed to Universal for a seven-year contract. Stardom
Chandler’s first movie for Universal under his new contract was Abandoned, then he was
borrowed by 20th Century Fox to play Cochise in Broken Arrow. This film was a considerable hit, earning
Chandler an Oscar nomination and establishing him as a star. He later reprised the role as the legendary
Apache chief in The Battle at Apache Pass and in a cameo in Taza, Son of Cochise. He was the first actor nominated for an Academy
Award for portraying an American Indian. Chandler’s success in Broken Arrow led to
him being cast as a variety of nationalities from different historical periods, such as
an Arab chief in Flame of Araby and a Polynesian in Bird of Paradise. He also played an embittered Union cavalryman
in Two Flags West. In 1952 exhibitors voted him the 22nd most
popular star in the US and he signed a fresh contract with Universal. 20th Century-Fox was keen to use Chandler
again and put forward roles in such films as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Lydia Bailey,
Les Miserables and The Secret of Convict Lake. However, Universal had an exclusive contract
and they kept him working at the studio. In 1954 Universal put Chandler on suspension
for refusing to play the lead in Six Bridges to Cross. During the latter part of the decade and into
the early 1960s, Chandler became a top leading man. His sex appeal, prematurely gray hair, and
ruggedly handsome tanned features put him into drama and costume movies. Among the movies of this period are Female
on the Beach, Foxfire, Away All Boats, Toy Tiger, Drango, The Tattered Dress, Man in
the Shadow, A Stranger in My Arms, The Jayhawkers!, Thunder in the Sun, and Return to Peyton Place. His leading ladies included June Allyson,
Joan Crawford, Rhonda Fleming, Maureen O’Hara, Kim Novak, Jane Russell, Esther Williams,
and his Brooklyn friend Susan Hayward. His agent was Doovid Barskin of The Barskin
Agency in the late 50s. In 1957, Chandler left Universal and signed
a contract with United Artists. Having long desired to be an executive he
formed his own company, Earlmar Productions, with agent Meyer Mishkin. Together they produced the film Drango, which
Chandler also directed for a few weeks. Chandler was due to star in Operation Petticoat
but fell ill and had to pull out. He later formed another production company,
August, for which he made The Plunderers, at Allied Artists. Singing
Chandler had a concurrent career as a singer and recording artist, releasing several albums
and playing nightclubs. In 1955 he became only the second star to
play at the Riviera, after Liberace was the featured headliner. In her autobiography Hold the Roses, Rose
Marie wrote that “Jeff Chandler was a great guy, but he was no singer. He put together an act and we opened at the
Riviera. He came with a conductor, piano player, light
man, press agent, and manager. None of it helped”. And “Everybody raved about Jeff’s singing,
but let’s face it: He really didn’t sing very well. He definitely had guts to open in Vegas”. He left to work on a movie after three and
a half weeks. Personal life
Chandler married actress Marjorie Hoshelle in 1946. The couple had two daughters, Jamie Tucker
and Dana Grossel, before separating in 1954. They reconciled but his wife applied for divorce
again in 1957. Both of Chandler’s daughters died of cancer,
as did his mother, maternal aunt, uncle and grandfather. When his friend Sammy Davis, Jr. lost an eye
in an accident and was in danger of losing the other, Chandler offered to give Davis
one of his own eyes. Chandler himself had nearly lost an eye and
had been visibly scarred in an auto accident years earlier. He was romantically linked with Esther Williams,
who claimed in her 1999 autobiography Chandler was a cross dresser and she broke off the
relationship. According to the Los Angeles Times, many friends
and colleagues of Chandler’s rejected Williams’ claims. Jane Russell commented, “I’ve never heard
of such a thing. Cross-dressing is the last thing I would expect
of Jeff. He was a sweet guy, definitely all man.” His public support for Israel’s 1956 attack
on Egypt, prompted the United Arab Republic to ban his films in Arab countries in 1960. Death
Shortly after completing his role in Merrill’s Marauders in 1961, Chandler injured his back
while playing baseball with U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers who served as extras in the
movie. He entered a Culver City hospital and had
surgery for a spinal disc herniation, on May 13, 1961. There were severe complications; an artery
was damaged and Chandler hemorrhaged. In a seven-and-a-half-hour emergency operation
over-and-above the original surgery, he was given 55 pints of blood. Another operation followed, date unknown,
where he received an additional 20 pints of blood. He died on June 17, 1961. His death was deemed malpractice and resulted
in a large lawsuit and settlement for his children. He was buried at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
in Culver City. At the time he was romantically involved with
British actress Barbara Shelley. Tony Curtis and Gerald Mohr were among the
pallbearers at Chandler’s funeral. He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park
Cemetery, in Culver City, California. For his contribution to the motion picture
industry, Chandler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1770 Vine Street. Critical appraisal
Film historian David Shipman once wrote this analysis of Chandler: Jeff Chandler looked as though he had been
dreamed up by one of those artists who specialise in male physique studies or, a mite further
up the artistic scale, he might have been plucked bodily from some modern mural on a
biblical subject. For that he had the requisite Jewishness – and
he was not quite real. Above all, he was impossibly handsome. He would never have been lost in a crowd,
with that big, square, sculpted 20th-century face and his prematurely grey wavy hair. If the movies had not found him the advertising
agencies would have done – and in fact, whenever you saw a still of him you looked
at his wrist-watch or pipe before realising that he wasn’t promoting something. In the coloured stills and on posters his
studio always showed his hair as blue, heightening the unreality. His real name was Ira Grossel and his film-name
was exactly right. An obituary of Chandler stated Known for his careful attention to detail
in making pictures, Chandler was often described as introverted. But colleagues who worked with him closely
said he had an easy, light-hearted approach on the set that helped ease some of the strain
of production. Influence
The famed animated action-adventure series Jonny Quest’s handsome, white-haired, veteran
special agent bodyguard Race Bannon’s design was modeled after Jeff Chandler. Filmography
Unfilmed projects Chandler was announced for the following projects
which were not made: The Last Count
Vermillion O’Toole Young Moses
The Islander with Esther Williams Lincoln McEever – for his own production
company Award nominations
Box office rankings For a number of years, film exhibitors voted
Chandler among the top stars at the box office. 1952 – 22nd
1953 – 18th 1954 – 16th
1955 – 20th, 7th 1956 – 18th, 5th
1957 – 22nd, 6th Select radio credits
Regular role Michael Shayne 1948–1949
Our Miss Brooks 1948–1955 Frontier Town 1952–1953
Guest appearances “Young Mr. Lincoln” – Academy Award Theatre
“Photo Finish” – Suspense “With Cradle and Clock” – Cavalcade of America
“Gregory Hood, Suspect” – Casebook of Gregory Hood
“Blood On Sun” – Academy Award Theatre “The Black Curtain” – Suspense
“Snake Doctor” – Escape “Blond Mink”, “Leopard’s Spots”, “Social Error”,
“Palm Beach Santa Claus” – Damon Runyon Theatre
“Steel River Prison Break” – Suspense “The Woodsman” – The Woodsman
“My True Love’s Heir” – Suspense “A Good Neighbor” – Suspense
Discography “I Should Care”
“More Than Anyone” Further reading
Hoffmann, Henryk. “A” Western Filmmakers. McFarland & Co., 2000. Kirk, Marilyn. Jeff Chandler’. 1st Books Library/AuthorHouse, 2003. Marie, Rose. Hold the Roses. University Press of Kentucky, 2002. Wells, Jeff. Jeff Chandler: Film, Record, Radio, Television
and Theater Performances. McFarland & Co., 2005. Williams, Esther. The Million Dollar Mermaid. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000. References External links
Jeff Chandler at the Internet Movie Database Jeff Chandler at the TCM Movie Database
Jeff Chandler as Cochise in Broken Arrow

11 Comments

  1. muse 77 Author

    That narrator is awful. Robotic, and cannot pronounce "Cochise". So irritating! Its pronounced "Cochees". Jeff Chandler was a good actor and I enjoyed his movies.

    Reply
  2. Álvaro Pelayo Author

    I think that Jeff Chandler will someday be rediscovered, because in every movie he was in he was GREAT, and I am not exagerating things. He was one of the best.

    Reply
  3. John Maher Author

    Jeff Chandler! 6' 4"! He had incredible screen presence.. As far as wardrobe was concerned nobody ever looked better in clothes than that guy and I am not referring to that acid induced vision that E.W. told us about.

    Reply
  4. Christina Lopez Author

    wow after all The Nasty rumors without being mentioned they botched up his surgery twice!!!!! This is definitely one of the tragic Tales of Hollywood. he definitely was a master of The craft and it seems to me a lot of jealous and inbitterd small midgets, not to mention ugly!!!!
    what a tragedy when God blesses you with all that beauty and your introverted as lady says which I take as being humble and you're excellent at what you do and you got the wolves and Hounds after you what a tragedy to die so young!!!! So all of those young people with stars in their eyes well we know what the industry is made of now the same slime back then be careful what you wish for and when they push and pull too hard get the hell out. Absolutely tragedy and there's absolutely no validity or truth to this cross-dressing s***. standing next to the average man in Hollywood he must have intimidated them all but you surely deserve better rolls. still one of my favorite actors always will be. how tragic. now to make it in Hollywood well you have to be homosexual so who cares about that one way or the other that was totally unsubstantiated and only told by I over zealous tabloid writer hopefully somewhere 20 feet underground!!! which you probably turned her down on a date!!!!!

    Reply
  5. Christina Lopez Author

    excuse me what would they been in Arabic or should we say Middle Eastern countries when it comes to American film whoever now rated just to put this piece of s*** together is pissing me off have a nice day I'll watch something else. He could of dreesed up like a turd; rhey still would have married him. They surely knew how to ruin your carreer. Now someone tell me who were his wives??????
    EXACTLY MY POINT!!
    WE ALL KNOW WHEN YOUR CAREER IS GOING PLACES THEY START CASTING YOU AS INDIANS ( NO PROBLEM IM IM BOOK ITS MY HERITAGE ) Never the less they did an abomination when it came to telling the truth about how the WEST WAS WON..
    SO MY HAT GOES OFF TO JEFF CJANDLER ,YUL BRENNER & MANY OTHERS WHO DID AN EXCELLENT JOB POITRAYING ETHNIC ROLES & DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB!!!!

    Reply
  6. Christina Lopez Author

    this little episode here is really pissing me off God forbid you say something against Egypt the man was Israeli a Jew got a problem with that it's mighty funny this industry is turns its a**** inside out and all I'm seeing is diarrhea coming out of everybody's mouth which way or the other it wasn't easy back then it isn't easy now so my hat goes off to him but whoever put this little tidbit of s*** together they need to be whipped upside down and I mean whipped with a damn stick. I guess they put anything on YouTube now to piss people off or get viewers I don't know but this is way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way out of line and sounds totally fabricated like I said he could dress up like a turd and those ugly b**** would have married him! so what he spoke out against the Egyptian counselor who the hell are they now we just kiss their ass because they have money and I don't kiss nobody's ass but whoever made this little tidbit of phone or whatever they thought they were doing anything to take this s*** down that's an f*** atrocity

    Reply
  7. Celluloidwatcher Author

    I would like to see Jeff Chandler's version of the boxing film, Iron Man, which I saw on T.V. years ago, but only Lew Ayres' version appears on YT. What an actor and man he was.

    Reply

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