Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jeffrey Hunter, 1926-1969

Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus in King of Kings (1961)

Today marks the birth anniversary of actor Jeffrey Hunter, who is probably best known for playing Jesus Christ in the epick 1961 version of the film King of Kings about the life of Jesus Christ. Hunter started his career at Fox, with smaller roles in movies like Fourteen Hours, before getting a big break playing opposite John Wayne in The Searchers in the mid-1950s. Unfortunately, Hunter's career didn't go all that well after King of Kings. Hunter played the captain of the Enterprise in the pilot for the TV show Star Trek, but with the long delay between filming the pilot and going into production Hunter decided not to do the role, so we wound up with William Shatner as Captain Kirk. Hunter's pilot was edited into the two part Star Trek episode "The Menagerie".

Hunter died tragically young. After giving up on Star Trek, Hunter wound up in Europe making crappy westerns. On a flight back to America to try to revive his career, he suffered a stroke and then, several weeks later, suffered another one that caused him to fall and hit his head which, like William Holden, is eventually what killed him (although it Holden's case it was all alcohol-induced).

The Jeffrey Hunter movie I'd recommend would be Sergeant Rutledge.

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