This is the perfect example of expecting one thing but finding something special instead. The picture stood on its own. There was no other description other than this is a picture of a handsome man from the 50’s. And here I was thinking “he looks like your typical clean-cut All-American guy of that decade.” Little did I know he was a man who became famous in that decade.
Upon receiving it I saw writings on the back that hadn’t been mentioned at all by the seller. Great! I love surprises and here’s a name! Maybe I can find something about him.
Turns out this is an original, early snapshot I believe was used as a headshot for actor Jeffrey Hunter, taken a few months before he was discovered in 1950.
Hank was born on November 26, 1926 Henry Herman ‘Hank’ McKinnies in New Orleans, Louisiana and lived his first years in Metairie (he’s my neighborhood’s boy!). His family moved to Wisconsin and Illinois, then Hank joined the navy but was medically discharged after a year. He finally settled in California to get his Masters in radio at UCLA. At the time this snapshot was taken he was 22, a student and an unknown apart from a few school plays and radio shows.
I believe his scout sent this picture to casting agencies or directors. Hence the ‘please return’ note. The snapshot was later glued on to an album I think was his or his first wife’s Barbara.
Jeffrey Hunter or Hank – I’ll call him Hank-, had a promising acting career, yet it waned in the end and only lasted 19 years.
He worked with the biggest names in the industry such as director Alfred Hitchcock in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and actor John Wayne as his sidekick in the classic The Searchers. He also played the role of Jesus Christ in the big budget King of Kings.
Last but not least, he starred in the first Star Trek television pilot “The Cage” as Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise (the role was reprised recently in Star Trek Into Darkness.) His likeness still graces the covers of Star Trek novels.
In 1969, while filming ¡Viva America! in Spain, a rigged car he was in exploded inward instead of outward, giving him a concussion. On the plane back to California Hank suffered a stroke but recovered. Again weeks later he had another, fell and fractured his skull. He died of a brain hemorrhage out of surgery the next day at the too young age of 42.
I’ve searched a few online galleries dedicated to this actor and I believe the picture I found was never published.
Here are a few pictures of Jeffrey Hunter:
The back is blank but was glued to the album the same way as the first picture.
Barbara Rush has had a very long and successful a career. She recently made a few recent appearances such as in 7th Heaven as Grandma Ruth Camden. She and Hank were married from 1950 to 1955 and had a son together, Chris. Hank went on to marry twice more and had three more kids; Steele he took on as his own and two boys, Todd and Scott.
Visit Jeffreyhunter.net for much more info on this very successful actor who to this day has many fans still.