Tag: Jeff Hunter


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Jeffrey Hunter with Virginia Leith and George Macready in "A Kiss Before Dying"

(Gordon Grant)  In this suspenseful film based on the Ira Levin novel, Jeff is an intelligent and inquiring ‘good guy’ whose actions play a pivotal role in the story.  Jeff’s character becomes suspicious after he learns that smooth-talker Wagner is seriously involved with a woman from a wealthy family, but the woman is entirely unaware that her sister–an apparent suicide–was Wagner’s prior girlfriend. With Virginia Leith, Mary Astor, and future star Joanne Woodward.

Read a nice article about the making of the film, including an interview with Robert Wagner, here.



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(Technical Adviser – Mountain Climber) Jeff has a cameo role in this comedy about a married man (Walter Matthau) led astray by a friend (Robert Morse).  The comedy co-starred Inger Stevens, with Lucille Ball, Jack Benny as well as Jeff and many others in cameos.  Jeff's cameo only lasts for a few seconds, and consists of one line:  "Because she's there."



Jeffrey Hunter

Born: November 25, 1926
Died: May 27, 1969

Click to see photos of Jeffrey Hunter’s Final Resting Place.

Early Life

Jeffrey Hunter was born Henry Herman McKinnies, Jr. in New Orleans, the only child of a Louisiana sales engineer and his wife. The family moved to Milwaukee in 1930, and young “Hank,” as he was known, grew up in Wisconsin.blank

While still in high school, Hunter acted on Milwaukee radio station WTMJ; this led to summer stock work and then to Chicago theater activity.

Military Service and Education

He served in the U.S. Navy at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois 1945-1946. Afterwards, he attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he earned a bachelor’s degree from the School of Speech. He continued his stage appearances and had a small role in the 1949 film version of Julius Caesar, which starred Charlton Heston.

Going to Hollywood!

Soon after, Hunter moved to California to attend UCLA on a scholarship, He was spotted by Hollywood talent scouts when he appeared in a school production of “All My Sons” in May of 1950. He made a screen test at Paramount, but it was 20th Century Fox that signed him to a contract. At Fox, he made his first “mainstream” film appearance in Fourteen Hours, a film which also served as the debut for Grace Kelly.

Film and Television Career

Over the next two decades, Jeffrey Hunter would show his versatility as an actor by starring or co-starring in a wide variety of movies – dramas, comedies, westerns, science fiction and war films. He often played the handsome decent, wholesome suitor or husband in domestic contemporary dramas and comedies of the period.

His movie career gained momentum after he co-starred with John Wayne in the John Ford western classic The Searchers (1956). Hunter, who often displayed a wry sense of humor, said in an interview, “I was told I had arrived when, during the filming of The Searchers, they gave me almost as much ammunition as they gave John Wayne.”




In 1961, Hunter won the difficult and challenging role of Jesus Christ in King of Kings. His reverent performance earned Hunter considerable praise. According to director Nicholas Ray’s biography, the Vatican approved the script before filming began.

In 1963, Hunter signed a two-year contract with Warner Brothers. At Warners, he starred in the western TV series “Temple Houston”. He filmed nearly 30 episodes of the hour-long series before it was canceled in 1964. Hunter’s 1963 film The Man From Galveston was originally the pilot episode of this television series.

In 1964 Hunter portrayed Captain Christopher Pike of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the original “Star Trek” television pilot, “The Cage.”  After that pilot was rejected, he turned down the option to make an unprecedented second pilot. The two-part episode “The Menagerie,” in “Star Trek’s” first season, incorporated significant footage from “The Cage” and introduced Captain Pike to “Star Trek” fans.

During the next several years, he acted in several films in Europe and Asia.  Jeff’s last stage appearance was in “The Rainmaker” in Chicago, in 1967.

Marriages and Children

Hunter married actress Barbara Rush on December 1, 1950. They had one child, a son, Christopher. Although they divorced on March 29, 1955, Rush would remember him fondly and said she considered him to be the handsomest man she ever met.

On July 7, 1957, Hunter married Joan “Dusty” Bartlett, a former model.  Jeff met Dusty when she worked as a stuntwoman on Jeff’s film A Kiss Before Dying. They had two sons – Todd and Scott. He also adopted Steele, Dusty’s son from a previous marriage. This marriage ended in divorce in 1967.

After a whirlwind courtship, Hunter married actress Emily McLaughlin in February 1969. She is best known for her role as Nurse Jessie Brewer on the ABC soap opera “General Hospital.”  She played Nurse Jessie from 1963 until her death in 1990.

Jeffrey Hunter’s Death

In 1969, while filming ¡Viva America! in Spain, Jeffrey Hunter was accidentally injured in an on-set explosion. Soon afterward he began complaining of dizziness and headaches.  On May 26th, 1969, he fell down a short flight of stairs at home and struck his head.  Around that same time, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.  He died the next day during surgery to repair the skull fracture. What exactly caused his death has been the subject of some debate since then. Jeffrey Hunter was only 42 years old.

Check out Paul Green’s excellent biography of Jeffrey Hunter for more details.  It’s available here.


Did Jeff vie for a role as President Kennedy? Click here to find out!


During his career, Jeffrey Hunter acted in almost 50 films. His first film was Julius Caesar (1950), in which he had an uncredited role as a member of the Roman Senate. The first role for which he received top billing was in Sailor of the King (1953). His last film was ¡Viva America! (1969).  The year shown for each film is the year that the film was first released anywhere in the world; most of the films were released in the United States first.

Jeff also did some work as a producer; to learn more, click here.

For more detailed information on each film, such as cast and crew information, try a visit to imdb.com.

Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus in "King of Kings"


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(Jesus Christ)  Jeff won high praise for his sincere, luminous portrayal in this big-budget widescreen biblical epic, considered one of the best of its genre. Directed by Nicholas Ray and narrated by Orson Welles, the film co-starred Robert Ryan, Rip Torn, Siobhan McKenna, Viveca Lindfors, and Hurd Hatfield.

More photos:

Jeffrey Hunter, in TV series "Temple Houston"



Jeffrey Hunter in <b>No Man is an Island</b>Thanks for stopping by!  This fansite was created by Jeffrey Hunter fans, for other fans to enjoy. It’s entirely devoted to Jeff’s life and work, with no ads to clutter up your experience. Be well, and enjoy!

“Without sounding smug, I’ve always felt that you have to be well prepared when old man opportunity comes knocking. I always wanted to be an actor, and so I did everything possible to prepare myself for my career.”
         ….. Jeffrey Hunter

“Be natural, sincere and honest on and off screen and stage or radio. A good acting job must come from the mind and heart.”
         ….. Jeffrey Hunter
“He was the finest, most decent man I’ve ever known.”
         ….. Longtime friend Lee Riordan

“Despite his looks and talent, there was nothing of the snob about Hank. His voice was quiet and gentle and his manners came right out of the Civil War South.”
         ….. Friend Don Kreger

Jeff Enjoyed a Wide-Ranging Career in Movies…

Born Hank McKinnies, Jeff was a fine actor whose career spanned a wide range of roles:

Also, Jeff acted opposite some of the greatest screen actors of his day: most notably John Wayne – in The Searchers, and Spencer Tracy – in The Last Hurrah.

And in Radio and TV!

In many 1950’s radio dramas, he showed off his college training as a radio actor. He also guest-starred regularly on TV series, especially during the 1960’s – including a role as a serial killer (!) on the very first episode of the popular series The FBI. During NBC-TV’s 1963-64 season, he starred in and co-produced his own series, Temple Houston, as a frontier lawyer in the Old West.

Many fans first discovered Jeffrey Hunter as the iconic first captain of the starship USS Enterprise – Christopher Pike, in the early days of Star Trek.

Jeffrey Hunter as Christopher Pike with Leonard Nimoy as Spock: Star Trek
With Leonard Nimoy in “Star Trek: The Cage”

His Most Unforgettable Role? How About…

Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus with Siobhan McKenna as his mother Mary in King of Kings
Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus, with Siobhan McKenna as His mother Mary in “King of Kings” (1961)

We dedicate this website with love and gratitude to Jeffrey Hunter, whose work as an actor, and whose untimely death in 1969, touched the lives of so many.

About Jeff’s Star on the Walk of Fame, including a photo!


There are many excellent resources about Jeffrey Hunter on the Web! In particular, we recommend IMDb and Memory Alpha.

Although we gathered the materials on this website from advertising sources, no copyright infringement is intended. However, if anyone can prove copyright ownership of any materials and requests their deletion, we will remove said materials. Claudia Henry designed the site, with some content carried over from the original jeffreyhuntermovies site created by Jim Lalley and Claudia Henry.