John Agar

Riffed Movies


John Agar (January 31, 1921 – April 7, 2002) was the son of a Chicago meatpacker and never aspired to an acting career until fate took a hand in 1945, when he met Shirley Temple, the former child star and one of the most famous young actresses in Hollywood. In a whirlwind romance, the 17-year-old Temple married the 25-year-old Agar.

His good looks made him seem a natural candidate for the screen and, in 1946, he was signed to a six-year contract by producer David O. Selznick. He never actually appeared in any of Selznick's movies, but his services were loaned out at a considerable profit to the producer, beginning in 1948 with his screen debut (opposite Temple) in John Ford's classic cavalry drama Fort Apache, starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. His work in that movie led to a still larger role in Ford's She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, also starring Wayne. Those films were to mark the peak of Agar's mainstream film career, though John Wayne, who took a liking to the younger actor, saw to it that he had a major role in The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), which was one of the most popular war movies of its era.

In 1949, however, Temple divorced Agar and his career slowed considerably; apart from the film he did with Wayne, the most notable aspect of his career that year was his appearance in the anti-Communist potboiler I Married a Communist (aka The Woman on Pier 13). During the early '50s, he appeared in a series of low-budget programs such as The Magic Carpet, one of Lucille Ball's last feature films prior to the actress becoming a television star, and played leads in second features, including the offbeat comedy The Rocket Man. Agar seemed destined to follow in the same downward career path already blazed by such failed mid-'40s leading men as Sonny Tufts when a film came along at Universal-International in 1955 that gave his career a second wind. The studio was preparing a sequel to its massively popular Creature From the Black Lagoon, directed by Jack Arnold, and needed a new leading man; Agar's performance in an independent film called The Golden Mistress had impressed the studio and he was signed to do the movie. Revenge of the Creature, directed by Arnold, was nearly as successful as its predecessor, and Agar had also come off well, playing a two-fisted scientist. He was cast as the lead in Arnold's next science-fiction film, Tarantula, then in a Western, Star in the Dust, and then in The Mole People, another science-fiction title. In between, he also slipped in a leading-man performance in Hugo Haas' crime drama Hold Back Tomorrow. He left Universal when the studio refused to give him roles in a wider range of movies, but his career move backfired, limiting him almost entirely to science fiction and Western movies for the next decade.

Agar was most visible over the next few years in horror and science-fiction films; it was the science-fiction films that he was most closely associated with and where he found an audience and a fandom. Coupled with his earlier movies for Universal, those films turned Agar into one of the most visible and popular leading men in science-fiction cinema and a serious screen hero to millions of baby-boomer preteens and teenagers.

His career eventually moved into the realm of supporting and character parts, including a small but key role in Roger Corman's first big-budget, big-studio film The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. He returned to working with John Wayne in three Westerns, The Undefeated, Chisum, and Big Jake, and turned up every so often in bit parts and supporting roles, sometimes in big-budget, high-profile films such as the 1976 remake of King Kong, but mostly he supported himself by selling insurance. In the 1990s, however, Agar was rediscovered by directors such as John Carpenter, who began using him in their movies and television productions, and he worked onscreen in small roles into the 21st century.[1]

Agar appeared in the 2005 film The Naked Monster alongside several other former B-Movie actors, including Paul Marco.

Agar's marriage to Shirley Temple lasted five years and they had one daughter together. Following his divorce from Temple, Agar was married in 1951 to model Loretta Barnett Combs (1922-2000). They remained married until her death. They had two sons, Martin Agar and John G. Agar III.

Agar died on April 7, 2002, in Burbank, California, of complications from emphysema. He was buried beside his wife at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.[2]


1995 Words From Jerusalem
1993 Body Bags
1992 Invasion of Privacy
1991 The Perfect Bride
1990 Nightbreed
1990 Fear
1989 Miracle Mile
1987 Perfect Victims
1984 Highway to Heaven: "The Return of the Masked Rider"
1976 King Kong
1976 Charlie's Angels: "Target: Angels"
1975 The Amazing Mr. No-Legs
1971 Big Jake
1970 Chisum
1969 The Undefeated
1968 Night Fright
1967 The St. Valentine's Day Massacre
1966 Zontar, the Thing from Venus
1966 Johnny Reno
1966 Women of the Prehistoric Planet
1966 Waco
1966 Curse of the Swamp Creature
1965 Young Fury
1965 Branded: $10,000 for Durango
1965 Hell Raiders
1964 Law of the Lawless
1964 Stage to Thunder Rock
1963 Of Love and Desire
1963 Cavalleria Commandos
1963 The Young and the Brave
1962 Hand of Death
1962 Journey to the 7th Planet
1961 Lisette
1960 Raymie
1959 Invisible Invaders
1958 Attack of the Puppet People
1958 Frontier Gun
1958 Jet Attack / Paratroop Command
1957 Ride a Violent Mile
1957 Flesh and the Spur
1957 Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
1957 Joe Butterfly
1957 Flesh and the Spur
1957 The Brain from Planet Arous
1956 The Mole People
1956 Star in the Dust
1955 Tarantula
1955 Hold Back Tomorrow
1955 Revenge of the Creature
1955 The Lonesome Trail
1954 The Golden Mistress
1954 Shield for Murder
1954 Bait
1954 The Rocket Man
1953 Man of Conflict
1952 Woman of the North Country
1951 Along the Great Divide
1951 The Magic Carpet
1950 Breakthrough
1949 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
1949 Adventure in Baltimore
1949 Sands of Iwo Jima
1949 I Married a Communist
1948 Fort Apache[3]



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