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Steve Cochran Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (19)  | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Eureka, California, USA
Died in Pacific Ocean  (acute infectious edema)
Birth NameRobert Alexander Cochran
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Born Robert Alexander Cochran, son of a California lumberman, he worked mostly in the theatre before landing a contract with Samuel Goldwyn in 1945. His debut was Wonder Man (1945) with Virginia Mayo and Danny Kaye. From 1949 to 1952, he was signed to Warner Brothers, then started up his own production company. In 1965 he sailed off in his yacht to Guatemala to look for suitable filming locations, but died of a lung infection before reaching land.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: rosariadinatale@hotmail.com

Husky, hairy-chested, darkly handsome Steve Cochran was all man -- and a slick ladies' guy to boot. They didn't come much rougher and tougher than he both off- and on-camera. Throughout post-WWII Hollywood and the 1950s, he played the swarthiest and sexiest of coldhearted villains, with mustache or without, in a few films now considered classics. What Cochran perhaps lacked in the Gable charisma department, he certainly made up for with his own raw magnetism and sexy virility -- though it wasn't enough for him to attain all-out superstardom. Perhaps a few too many oily heavies and shady heroes for audiences to really warm up to was the key problem. And with his womanizing reputation preceding him, the tabloids could not have dreamed up a more salacious and mysterious ending for this cinematic bad boy in 1965 than amid a crew of lovely Mexican ladies!

Christened Robert Alexander Cochran, the actor was born on May 25, 1917, in Eureka, California, but grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, as the son of a logger. While he appeared in high school plays, he spent more time delving into athletics, particularly shooting hoops. After stints as a cowpuncher and railroad station hand, he studied at the University of Wyoming and played basketball, as well. After the frisky collegiate got the ax from his team due to his fraternizations with the opposite sex, he wound up joining his college's dramatic club. Impulsively, he quit college in 1937 and decided to go straight to Hollywood to become a star.

Working as a carpenter and department store detective during his early days, he gained experience appearing in summer stock and then returned to California in the early 1940s when he was given the chance to work with the Shakespeare Festival in Carmel. There, he played the highly visible roles of "Orsino" in "Twelfth Night", "Malcolm" in "Macbeth", "Horatio" in "Hamlet" and the ungainly title role of "Richard III".

Unable to serve his country due to a heart murmur, Steve directed shows for Army camps (and toured with them) in addition to appearing around the country in stock plays. He received his biggest break yet when he made his Broadway debut in 1944's "Broken Hearts on Broadway" and then went on to appear almost immediately in "Hickory Stick". While playing leading man to 'Constance Bennett' in a tour of "Without Love", he was noticed by Samuel Goldwyn and brought to Hollywood to work with both the Goldwyn Studio and Harry Cohn's Columbia Pictures.

Playing a heavy to Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo in Wonder Man (1945) got the ball rolling and he went on to appear in a couple of shady roles in the "Boston Blackie" series before briefly playing Ms. Mayo's extra-marital fling in the war classic The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and a racketeer in the film noir drama The Chase (1946). He reunited with and supported Mr. Kaye and Ms. Mayo twice more in The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) and A Song Is Born (1948) later that decade. Unable to move into starring roles, however, his career began to hit a snare and the studios decided not to renew his contract.

Following a notable stint as the incomparable Mae West's leading stud in her 1949 revival of "Diamond Lil" on Broadway, Steve was picked up by Warner Bros. and began to create what would become his signature gangster persona in Hollywood. The violent-edged White Heat (1949) may have become a prime classic thanks to James Cagney's riveting performance and "Top of the World" finale, but Steve received his due as a double-dealing mobster out to steal the imprisoned Cagney's moll (Virginia Mayo, again) and syndicate out from under him. As in many of these roles, Steve's unscrupulous character met a messy end.

Warners gave him some great roles in the beginning of the 1950s. Beginning with Joan Crawford's gangster paramour in the film noir The Damned Don't Cry (1950) and Ruth Roman's ex-convict hubby in Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), he then became a nemesis to sweet Doris Day in Storm Warning (1951) and earned strong notice for the gritty drama Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison (1951). Off-camera, the thrice-married actor (which included a second to actress Fay McKenzie) caught the lustful eye of some of Hollywood's most notorious sex stars including Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Mansfield and Barbara Payton, and the flashbulbs continued to pop for the hormonal star. His last two films for Warner Bros. were the musicals She's Back on Broadway (1953) with Ms. Mayo (for the sixth and last time) and The Desert Song (1953) with Kathryn Grayson.

In the meantime, Cochran showed true grit in such films as Carnival Story (1954) and Private Hell 36 (1954). In the mid-1950s, he founded his own production company, Robert Alexander Productions, in order to promote a more heroic image in films. This resulted in the excellent but little-known drama Come Next Spring (1956), opposite Ann Sheridan. Before long, however, the actor was back to playing rough and ruthless in such films as Slander (1957). Although he received excellent reviews abroad in the Michelangelo Antonioni picture Il Grido (1957) [The Outcry], his career began a final downslide in the late 50s. A prime candidate for numerous arrests for his impulsive carousing and brawling, his living hard in the fast lane began to take its toll. A third marriage to a girl his daughter's age ended in divorce. His last years were marred by an obligatory Errol Flynn-type ending of drinking and debauchery. He began looking bloated and weighty and was relegated to playing strong arms and heavies on TV ("The Untouchables," "The Twilight Zone," "Death Valley Days," "Burke's Law," "Bonanza"). His last films were bottom-of-the-barrel drek, including The Beat Generation (1959), The Big Operator (1959), the Maureen O'Hara produced and starrer The Deadly Companions (1961), Of Love and Desire (1963), the British entry Mozambique (1964) and the self-produced and directed Tell Me in the Sunlight (1965), the last two released posthumously and unnoticed.

In 1965, Steve hired an assortment of ladies for an "all-girl crew" to accompany him on a boating trip to check out locations for an upcoming film he was to produce and star in entitled "Captain O'Flynn." Leaving Acapulco on June 3rd, the boat encountered extremely stormy weather and Steve's health, which was not good in the first place (he took ill while filming Mozambique and failed to see a doctor), quickly took a turn for the worst. He died of an acute lung infection and was dead for nearly a week when his drifting schooner and the girls (one of whom was several years under-age) was rescued from the ocean near Guatemala on June 21st. A fitting if not troubling end for the one-time he-man Hollywood star.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Jonna Jensen (18 March 1961 - 15 June 1965) ( filed for divorce)
Fay McKenzie (1946 - 1948) ( divorced)

Trivia (19)

On June 15, 1965, at the age of 48, Cochran died on his yacht off the coast of Guatemala of an acute lung infection. His body, along with three alive but upset female Mexican assistants (Eva Montero Castellano, 25, a seamstress; Eugenia Bautista Zacarias, 19, a laundress; and 14-year-old Lorenza de la Rosa), remained terrified on board for ten days until the boat drifted to shore and was found by authorities. His death was apparently a mystery, surrounded by various rumors about foul play and poisoning. Merle Oberon, a former paramour a couple of years back, tried to use her influence to push for further police investigations but failed.
The successful singer, Morrissey (Steven Patrick Morrissey), is named after him.
Appeared opposite Virginia Mayo in six films, both of them often playing scheming, unsavory types.
Married three times and had one daughter, Xandra, by his first wife, artist Florence Lockwood. His relationship with his daughter was strained and eventually they lost touch. Following his second brief marriage to actress Fay McKenzie in the late 1940s, the 44-year-old Cochran married his third wife, 19-year-old Danish émigré Hedda Jenna Jensen, after a mere three-month courtship. They were estranged at the time of his death.
Born in Eureka, California but raised in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of a lumberman. His early work included that of a cowboy and railroad station hand.
He studied at the University of Wyoming and switched from the basketball team to the drama club. He quit college in 1937 to give Hollywood a go.
Was not accepted into the service because of a heart murmur. Instead he organized and directed shows for Army camps on the West coast.
Ex-brother-in-law of Ida Mae McKenzie and Ella McKenzie.
Ex-son-in-law of Eva McKenzie and Robert McKenzie.
Cochran was the grandfather of five by his only child, Xandria. One grandchild was film and TV producer Alex Johns (1966-2010) who was born over a year after Cochran's death to Xandria and husband Wendell Johns. Like his grandfather, Alex died at a young age (43) following a sudden illness.
At one time housed some strange animals at his Coldwater Canyon home, including a chimpanzee, some goats, and Paderewski, allegedly a piano-playing dog.
Cochran's estranged third wife, Hedda Jonna Jensen, and his mother, Jessie Rose Cochran, battled over control of his estate following his sudden death. At one point both were appointed temporary administrators of the estate but, eventually, Jensen was named sole administrator.
He and his daughter Xandria, by first wife Florence Lockwood, were long estranged at the time of his death.
A tabloid "bad boy," Cochran was arrested in August 1964 while shooting the film Mozambique (1964) in South Africa, on a civil court order brought about by a local jockey who accused him of adultery with his wife. Cochran was exonerated. Three months later he was arrested for beating, binding and gagging singer Ronie Rae, whom he invited to his home for an audition for his proposed film "Captain O'Flynn," which was never made. He was cleared of all charges in this as well.
While touring in the play "Without Love," he caught the attention of producer Samuel Goldwyn, who took an option out on him. Goldwyn cast Cochran in his first picture, the engaging Danny Kaye vehicle, Wonder Man (1945). Cochran would work in two other Kaye pictures -- The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) and A Song Is Born (1948).
Moved to Hollywood in the late 1930s but couldn't get a break or even a screen test. He pursued theatre instead and traveled around extensively. While appearing in a little theatre production of "There's Always Juliet," he adopted the name of one of the play's characters, Steve Cochran, to be his stage moniker.
After a year studying at Wyoming University, he quit to join the Federal Theatre Project in Detroit.
During his high school years, he was kicked off the school basketball team for missing practice.
Named after his father, Robert. He was the elder of two children.

Personal Quotes (2)

I don't act like a hood. I'm basically a decent person and I let this come through in my portrayals. After all, a guy has to make a living some way, even if he's a gangster.
With this puss of mine, I could play a corpse and be accused of overacting. The big secret in playing a gangster in movies is to really believe that the character you are playing is doing no wrong.

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