Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1916-03-26
64 Movies · 2 TV Series
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Youth and education. Hayden was born March 26, 1916, in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, to George and Frances Walter, who named him Sterling Relyea Walter. After his father died, he was adopted at age 9 by James Hayden and renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. As a child he lived in coastal towns of New England, and in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Maine. He attended Wassookeag School in Dexter, Maine. Hayden dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and took a job as mate on a schooner. His first voyage was to Newport Beach, California, from New London, Connecticut. Later, he was a fisherman on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, ran a charter yacht, and served as a fireman on 11 trips to Cuba aboard a steamer.He skippered a trading schooner in the Caribbean after earning his master's license, and in 1937 he served as mate on a world cruise of the schooner Yankee. After serving as sailor and fireman on larger vessels and sailing around the world several times, he was awarded his first command at age 22, skippering the square rigger Florence C. Robinson 7,700 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to Tahiti in 1938. Hayden spoke of his nautical experiences before the monthly meeting of the Adventurers' Club of New York on March 21, 1940. Early Hollywood years. In 1938 Hayden's photo was taken during the annual Gloucester, Massachusetts, Fishermen's Race. It went on the cover of a magazine prompting Paramount Pictures to call and offer a screen test. Hayden did a test in New York with Jeanne Cagney, James Cagney's sister. Hayden: I was completely lost, ignorant, nervous. But the next thing I knew, Paramount made me a seven-year contract beginning at $250 a week, which was astronomical. I got my lovely old mother and bought a car, and we drove to California... I was so lost then I didn't think to analyze it. I said, 'This is nuts, but, damned, it's pleasant.' I had only one plan in mind: to get $5,000. I knew where there was a schooner, and then I'd haul ass. Hayden went to Paramount in May 1940.Paramount dubbed the 6 ft 5 in (196 cm) actor "The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies" and "The Beautiful Blond Viking God." His first film, Virginia (1941), directed by Edward H. Griffith, starred Madeleine Carroll whom he married. He, Griffith and Carroll were reunited in Bahama Passage (1941). In December 1941, it was reported that he had quit Hollywood saying "I'm no actor! I'm a sailor." War service. After two film roles, he left Hollywood to fight in World War II. He enlisted in the Army and was sent to Scotland for training, but broke his ankle and was discharged.He returned to the US and tried to buy a half-interest in a schooner but could not raise the money. He joined the United States Marine Corps as a private, under the name John Hamilton, an alias he never used otherwise. While at Parris Island, he was recommended for Officer Candidate School. After graduation from OCS, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and was transferred to service as an undercover agent with William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan's Office of the Coordinator of Information. He remained there after it became the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).As OSS agent John Hamilton, his World War II service included sailing with supplies from Italy to Yugoslav partisans and parachuting into fascist Croatia. Hayden, who also participated in the Naples–Foggia campaign and established air crew rescue teams in enemy-occupied territory, became a first lieutenant on September 13, 1944, and a captain on February 14, 1945. He received the Silver Star for gallantry in action in the Balkans and Mediterranean (according to his citation, "Lt. Hamilton displayed great courage in making hazardous sea voyages in enemy-infested waters and reconnaissance through enemy-held areas"), a Bronze Arrowhead device for parachuting behind enemy lines, and a commendation from Yugoslavia's Josip Broz Tito. He left active duty on December 24, 1945. Tito awarded him the Order of Merit. Return to Hollywood. He returned to the US and told the press "I feel a real obligation to make this a better country – and I believe the movies are the place to do it."Hayden returned to Paramount. A friend, Captain Tomkins, started writing a book about him but it was not finished. He was cast as one of several brothers in an aviation film, Blaze of Noon (1947). The studio suspended him when he turned down a role in The Sainted Sisters.Hayden made two films for Pine Thomas Productions who distributed through Paramount: a western, El Paso (1949), supporting John Payne; and Manhandled (1949), a thriller with Dorothy Lamour. The Red Scare. Hayden's admiration for the bravery of the Communist partisans led to a brief membership in the Communist Party from 1946.He was apparently active in supporting an effort by the Communist-controlled motion picture painters union to absorb other film industry unions. As the Red Scare deepened in the U.S., he cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee, confessing his brief Communist ties and "naming names."He later said "the FBI made it very clear to me that, if I became an 'unfriendly witness,' I could damn well forget the custody of my children. I didn't want to go to jail, that was the other thing."Hayden had to testify publicly. He declared that joining the party was "the stupidest and most ignorant thing I have ever done in my life." He says he had quit the party but been persuaded to return by Karen Morley.His wife at that time, Betty de Noon (m 1947), insisted that the names her ex-husband provided were already in the hands of the committee, which had a copy of the Communist Party's membership list.Hayden subsequently repudiated his cooperation with the committee, stating in his autobiography, "I don't think you have the foggiest notion of the contempt I have had for myself since the day I did that thing." Film career. Hayden's career received a boost when cast by John Huston in the starring role of MGM's heist thriller, The Asphalt Jungle (1950). It was only a minor hit but was highly regarded critically and established Hayden as a leading man. He played a minister who doubts his faith in Journey into Light (1952), then supported Bette Davis as The Star (1952). It was not a large success but Flaming Feather (1952), a Western, did well. He followed it with a series of action films: Denver and Rio Grande (1952), a Western, for Paramount; Hellgate (1952), another Western; The Golden Hawk (1952), a pirate swashbuckler for producer Sam Katzman; Flat Top (1952), a Korean War drama; Fighter Attack (1953), a World War II film.In 1952, while divorcing his second wife, the court heard Hayden made $100,000 the previous year.Hayden then starred in So Big (1953), a melodrama from an Edna Ferber novel starring Jane Wyman, then it was back to medium budget action films: Take Me to Town (1953), a Western with Ann Sheridan; Kansas Pacific (1953), a Western for Walter Mirisch; Crime Wave (1954), a film noir.He had a support role in a big studio picture, Prince Valiant (1954), playing Sir Gawain, then returned to more conventional material with Arrow in the Dust. Johnny Guitar (1954) was another Western, but this time with Joan Crawford and Nick Ray; it was a hit and became a cult favourite. It was financed by Republic Pictures, which used Hayden on several occasions.There were some film noirs: Naked Alibi (1954) with Gloria Grahame and Suddenly (1954) with Frank Sinatra. Then it was action: Battle Taxi (1954), a Korean War movie; Timberjack (1955), a Western for Republic; Shotgun (1955), a Western with Yvonne de Carlo; The Eternal Sea (1955), a World War II naval story; Top Gun (1955), a Western for producer Edward Small. The Last Command (1955) was the story of the Alamo for Republic, with Hayden as Jim Bowie. The Come On (1956) was a film noir with Anne Baxter. Hayden also began appearing on TV shows such as Celebrity Playhouse. The Killing. Hayden was cast in a heist film which turned out to be a classic: The Killing (1956), an early work from director Stanley Kubrick. He remained a "B picture" star though: Crime of Passion (1957), a noir; 5 Steps to Danger (1957), a mystery film; Valerie (1957), a Western "noir"; Zero Hour! (1957), a disaster film; Gun Battle at Monterey (1957), a Western; The Iron Sheriff (1957), a Western for Edward Small; Ten Days to Tulara (1958), an adventure film; Terror in a Texas Town (1958), a Western.He also worked a lot on television, appearing on shows such as Zane Grey Theater, Wagon Train, General Electric Theater, Schlitz Playhouse, Playhouse 90, Goodyear Theatre, and The DuPont Show of the Month. Travelling. Hayden often professed distaste for film acting, saying he did it mainly to pay for his ships and voyages. In 1958, after a bitter divorce from Betty Ann de Noon, Hayden was awarded custody of his children.He defied a court order and sailed to Tahiti with all four children, Christian, Dana, Gretchen and Matthew."I'd had it", he said. "One way or another, I felt that I had sold out – or failed – at almost everything in my whole life. It was either turn things around or hang myself."The crew sailed from San Francisco Bay to Tahiti, where Hayden had planned to film a movie. Hayden also invited well-known photographer Dody Weston Thompson along to document the trip and to help shoot location choices. Her South Seas folio contains photographs of Hayden's schooner, The Wanderer; on-deck photos of life aboard the ship; colorful prints of his children, Tahitian women and children; and unique artifacts on shore. The film never materialized; however, according to Dody's notes, U.S. Camera and Travel printed her photographs of paradise in 1961. Marin County Superior Court Judge Harold Haley later ordered Hayden to repay Republic Pictures nearly $50,000 to recover the cost of financing the trip.In 1960, he married Catherine Devine McConnell. They had two sons, Andrew and David, and were married until his death in 1986. McConnell also had a son (Scott McConnell) from her first marriage to Neil McConnell, an heir to Avon's founding family. In November 1960 he said he was a "sailor or writer" rather than an actor.In the early 1960s, Hayden rented one of the pilot houses of the retired ferryboat Berkeley, docked in Sausalito, California, where he resided while writing his autobiography Wanderer, which was first published in 1963. In it, he reminisces about turning points in his life: The sun beats down and you pace, you pace and you pace. Your mind flies free and you see yourself as an actor, condemned to a treadmill wherein men and women conspire to breathe life into a screenplay that allegedly depicts life as it was in the old wild West. You see yourself coming awake any one of a thousand mornings between the spring of 1954, and that of 1958—alone in a double bed in a big white house deep in suburban Sherman Oaks, not far from Hollywood. The windows are open wide, and beyond these is the backyard swimming pool inert and green, within a picket fence. You turn and gaze at a pair of desks not far from the double bed. This is your private office, the place that shelters your fondest hopes: these desks so neat, patiently waiting for the day that never comes, the day you'll sit down at last and begin to write. Why did you never write? Why, instead, did you grovel along, through the endless months and years, as a motion‑picture actor? What held you to it, to something you so vehemently professed to despise? Could it be that you secretly liked it—that the big dough and the big house and the high life meant more than the aura you spun for those around you to see? "Hayden's wild", they said. "He's kind of nuts—but you've got to hand it to him. He doesn't give a damn about the loot or the stardom or things like that—something to do with his seafaring, or maybe what he went through in the war . . ." Later career. In 1964 Hayden appeared in A Carol for Another Christmas on TV. The same year he played one of his best-known characters, the deranged General Jack D. Ripper the Kubrick-directed Dr. Strangelove. Hayden bought a canal barge in the Netherlands in 1969, eventually moving it to the heart of Paris and living on it part of the time. He also shared a home in Wilton, Connecticut, with his family and had an apartment in Sausalito. He returned to filmmaking with Hard Contract (1969), supporting James Coburn and Loving (1970). "I'll go back to Hollywood to pick up a dollar, but that's all", he said. "Everything is wrong with that city."Hayden went to Europe where he appeared in Ternos Caçadores (1970), Angel's Leap (1971) and Le grand départ (1972). He had small but important roles in The Godfather (1972) and The Long Goodbye (1973). He made some films in Europe: The Final Programme (1973), Deadly Strangers (1975), Cipolla Colt (1975) and 1900 (1975). He was offered the role of "Quint" in Jaws (1975) but turned it down.In the 1970s, after his appearance in The Godfather, he appeared several times on NBC's Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, where he talked about his career resurgence and how it had funded his travels and adventures around the world. He appeared on The Starlost, and Banacek. He returned to Hollywood for King of the Gypsies (1978), Winter Kills (1979), The Outsider (1980), 9 to 5 (1980), Gas (1981), Venom (1981) and The Blue and the Gray (1982). In 1981 he was arrested for possession of hashish at Toronto International Airport.Hayden wrote two acclaimed books: an autobiography, Wanderer (1962), and a novel, Voyage (1976). He said they made him "a lot of money" but he lost most of it in taxes.In 1983 he appeared in a documentary of his life, Pharos of Chaos. Wives. Hayden was married three times. Madeleine Carroll, 1942–1946. Betty Ann de Noon, 1947–1958. They had four children, Christian, Dana, Gretchen and Matthew. Catherine Devine McConnell, 1960–1986. They had two children, Andrew and David. Death. Sterling Hayden died of prostate cancer in Sausalito in 1986, age 70.
Movies & TV Series
1 Movie · 1 TV Series
International terrorists attempt to kidnap a wealthy couple's child. Their plan comes unstuck when a deadly Black Mamba, sent by mistake instead of a harmless snake, escapes and the terrorists and sev...
Susan Anspach stars in this comedy as a news reporter who investigates a story about stolen milk causing milk and gas prices to rise. During the course of her investigation, other people become involv...
Nine to Five
Frank Hart is a pig. He takes advantage in the grossest manner of the women who work with him. When his three assistants manage to trap him in his own house they assume control of his department and p...
Michael Flaherty (Craig Wasson), an American Vietnam veteran of Irish descent, returns to Belfast to join the cause of his grandfather, Seamus (Sterling Hayden). Soon he finds that he is not as welcom...
1 TV Series
Set in Bertolucci's ancestral region of Emilia, the film chronicles the lives of two men during the political turmoils that took place in Italy in the first half on the 20th century.
Bertolucci secondo il cinema
Documentary on the filming of Novecento by Bernardo Bertolucci
After she misses her train, a young woman is forced to hitch a ride back to town. After managing to get away from a lecherous trucker, she is given a ride by a good-looking but somewhat mysterious you...
The Final Programme
After the death of his Nobel Prize-winning father, billionaire physicist Jerry Cornelius becomes embroiled in the search for the mysterious "Final Programme", developed by his father. The programme, a...
The Long Goodbye
Detective Philip Marlowe tries to help a friend who is accused of murdering his wife.
Spanning the years 1945 to 1955, a chronicle of the fictional Italian-American Corleone crime family. When organized crime family patriarch, Vito Corleone barely survives an attempt on his life, his y...
The Big Departure
This is the only feature directed by the famed French painter and sculptor Martial Raysse. In keeping with the revolutionary spirit of the time, the movie has no plot to speak of and appears to have b...
Brooks Wilson is in crisis. He is torn between his wife Selma and two daughters and his mistress Grace, and also between his career as a successful illustrator and his feeling that he might still prod...
An ornithologist (Hayden) goes on a field trip to a deserted island near the mainland with his wife (McNally) and small son, and is joined by the wife's sister (Strasberg), who is getting over an abor...
A Carol for Another Christmas
Director Joseph Mankiewicz's first work for television, the 90-minute ABC drama was publicized as having an all-star cast (which meant that names of some supporting cast members were not officially re...
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
After the insane General Jack D. Ripper initiates a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, a war room full of politicians, generals and a Russian diplomat all frantically try to stop the nuclear strike.
Ten Days To Tulara
Director George Sherman's 1958 western about gold thieves in Mexico stars Sterling Hayden, Grace Raynor and Rodolfo Hoyos.
Terror in a Texas Town
Armed with a harpoon, a Swedish whaler is out for revenge after the death of his father. A greedy oil man trying to buy up the Swede's land might be the guilty party.
The Iron Sheriff
Frontier peacekeeper Sheriff Galt (Sterling Hayden) faces a crisis of conscience in The Iron Sheriff. In the aftermath of a robbery-murder, Galt follows the trail of evidence directly to his own son, ...
Gun Battle at Monterey
An outlaw saved by a Mexican girl hunts the holdup partner who shot him in the back.
A rancher has to prove that he didn't kill his wife's parents. Clearly inspired by Rashomon, the film offers contradictory flashbacks during a lengthy trial.
A routine flight turns into a major emergency as passengers and crew succumb to food poisoning - is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane? If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because 'A...
5 Steps to Danger
Can a couple keep important secrets from Communist spies?
Crime of Passion
Kathy leaves the newspaper business to marry homicide detective Bill, but is frustrated by his lack of ambition and the banality of life in the suburbs. Her drive to advance Bill's career soon takes h...
The Come On
A con woman tries to swindle her partner-in-crime husband with the help of one of her former marks. But is she to be trusted?
Career criminal Johnny Clay recruits a sharpshooter, a crooked police officer, a bartender and a betting teller named George, among others, for one last job before he goes straight and gets married. B...
The Eternal Sea
Biography of Admiral John Hoskins' efforts to retain active command despite WW2 injury.
The Last Command
During the Texas War of Independence of 1836 American frontiersman and pioneer Jim Bowie pleads for caution with the rebellious Texicans.They don't heed his advice since he's a Mexican citizen,married...
In the Korean war, the commander of an Air Rescue helicopter team must show a hot-shot former jet pilot how important helicopter rescue work is and turn him into a team player.
a deputy U.S. Marshall pursue the gang of Ben Thompson after the murder of another marshall. Along with a bounty hunter and a half-breed woman they follow the trail into Apache territory.
A gunslinger returns to his hometown to warn of an impending outlaw gang attack, but he's met with hatred and fear for his previous killings.
A young man seeks his father's killers among lumberjacks, and discovers that they are actually timber barons who also seek to control lumber mills. Based on the novel of the same name.
A young Viking prince strives to become a knight in King Arthur"s Court and restore his exiled father to his rightful throne.
Questioned as a murder suspect, solid (but drunk) citizen Al Willis attacks his police questioners, is beaten, and swears vengeance against them. Next night, Lieut. Parks is murdered; Willis is the on...
The tranquility of a small town is marred only by sheriff Tod Shaw's unsuccessful courtship of widow Ellen Benson, a pacifist who can't abide guns and those who use them. But violence descends on Elle...
On the outskirts of town, the hard-nosed Vienna owns a saloon frequented by the undesirables of the region, including Dancin' Kid and his gang. Another patron of Vienna's establishment is Johnny Guita...
Arrow In The Dust
Director Lesley Selander's 1954 western stars Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Keith Larsen, Tom Tully, Lee Van Cleef and Jimmy Wakely.
World War II film set in German occupied Italy. A US fighter pilot is shot down in enemy territory during a raid against a German supply depot. He receives from Italian partisans in laying the groundw...
After the death of her father and the loss of his fortune, Selina takes a job teaching school in the Dutch community of New Holland. She stays with the Pools and teaches young Roelf piano. He has a cr...
Take Me to Town
Saloon entertainer Vermilion O'Toole and her former partner in crime Newt Cole escape from a train ride to prison and hide out in logging town Timberline. Meanwhile, the three sons of widower Will Hal...
Just before the Civil War (but after the South has seceded), Southern saboteurs try to prevent railroad construction from crossing Kansas to the frontier; army captain Nelson is sent out to oppose the...
Reformed parolee Steve Lacey is caught in the middle when a wounded former cellmate seeks him out for shelter. The other two former cellmates then attempt to force him into doing a bank job.
A rock hard commander trains Navy Carrier Pilots during the Second World War
A mysterious outlaw known as the Sidewinder, phantom leader of renegade Ute Indians, terrorizes the people of the Arizona Territory in the 1870s. When rancher Tex McCloud has his place burned out, he ...
Denver and Rio Grande
Jim Vesser and his team of railroading men try to build a rail line through a mountain pass, while a group of less scrupulous construction workers sabotage the entire operation in the hopes that they ...
The Golden Hawk
A 17th-century French pirate (Sterling Hayden) sides with an English noblewoman (Rhonda Fleming) who's posing as a pirate.
Man is framed & sent to toughest prison in the territory.
A washed-up movie queen finds romance, but continues to desire a comeback.
Ex-confederate officer Clay Fletcher jumps at the chance to reunite with his once lady-friend, Susan Jeffers, when his father, Judge Fletcher, sends him on an errand to El Paso, Texas to get the signa...
Merle Kramer works as a stenographer for a psychiatrist. She is casually dating Karl Benson, a private eye and former cop. Merle mentions in passing that one of her boss's patients is an author with r...
Dozens of star and character-actor cameos and a message about the Variety Club (a show-business charity) are woven into a framework about two hopeful young ladies who come to Hollywood, exchange ident...
Blaze of Noon
In this aerial melodrama, four brothers working as stunt pilots for a flying circus leave their jobs to become mail pilots. Because their job requires that they constantly travel, they are advised to ...
Post-Civil War romantic drama about defeated Southerners, starring Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray.
A girl, Carol whom the audience is quickly informed "has been around," and her father arrive to take over the business management of an island in the Bahamas owned by Adrian Ainsworth, descendant of m...