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Richard Egan, 65, Dies; Portrayed Rugged Heroes

July 22, 1987|TED THACKREY JR. | Times Staff Writer

Actor Richard Egan, who came to Hollywood as a Clark Gable competitor and spent the greater part of his career playing rugged leads in action films and Western television series, has died in Santa Monica.

Family members said Egan, 65, was admitted to St. John's Hospital on June 16 for treatment of prostate cancer. He died there Sunday.

Funeral services were scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church in Brentwood, with interment Friday at 10 a.m. in Holy Cross Cemetery, Inglewood.

In addition to his wife, Patricia Hardy, he leaves four daughters, Tricia, Kathleen, Colleen and Maureen, and a son, Richard Egan Jr.

Star of such glossy Hollywood feature productions as "A Summer Place," "The View From Pompey's Head," "The Revolt of Mamie Stover," "Esther and the King" and "Seven Cities of Gold," Egan also had the lead in "Empire" and "Redigo," two contemporary Western television series of the early 1960s, and a role in the daytime series "Capitol."

Born July 29, 1921, in San Francisco, he was graduated from St. Ignatius High School and was a senior at the University of San Francisco when the United States entered World War II.

He joined the Army, instructing troops in combat judo and serving a year of duty in the Philippines before being discharged with the rank of captain in 1946.

"The war had given me time to think," he told an interviewer in 1975, "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. . . ."

Returning to school on the GI Bill, Egan earned a master's degree in theater history at Stanford University and taught public speaking at Northwestern University, where he also appeared in 30 campus stage productions and was spotted by a Warner Bros. scout.

Signed by that studio but given few assignments, Egan moved to 20th Century Fox in 1950 and began a career that included major roles in such films as "Up Front," "Hollywood Story," "The Devil Makes Three," "Split Second," "The Glory Brigade," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," "Gog," "Pollyanna," "Khyber Patrol," "Underwater!" "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," "Love Me Tender," "The Hunters," "The Big Cube" and "The Sweet Creek Country War."

Leading Role on TV

Cast in the leading role of ranch boss Jim Redigo for NBC's hourlong "Empire" series in 1962, Egan followed the character into a half-hour spinoff, "Redigo," which survived for only a few months at the end of 1963. But he also remained a member of the "Empire" cast when the series moved to ABC in 1964.

He also appeared in various anthology series, including "The Twilight Zone" and "Four Star Theater," and toured in such stage productions as Neil Simon's "I Ought to Be in Pictures," "Hanky Panky" and "Strike a Match."

Egan had not appeared in films for several years, and said it was because the kind of person he wanted to play on screen was no longer fashionable.

"They want anti-heroes now," he said in a 1966 interview, "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."

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