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Friday, November 26, 2010

John Agar - B Movie Actor Extraordinaire

John Agar
Born January 31, 1921
Died April 7, 2002

Marrying America's Sweetheart is a sure way to get your Hollywood career off to a great start and that's exactly what John Agar did when he married Shirley Temple. Agar was twenty-four, Temple just sweet sixteen when they got hitched on September 19, 1945 -- nothing weird about that, I suppose.

Anyway, the six foot three former Army Air Corp Sargeant was on his way to the big time, being groomed by non other than David O. Selznik himself. During his brief period in the sun he appeared with John Wayne in 'Fort Apache'. He was also in 'The Sands of Iwo Jima'.

Things would have worked out well for our leading man, had Ms. Temple not filed for divorce in '49. You just don't do America's Sweetheart wrong and not suffer the consequences, as Agar soon found out: His career took a nose-dive and he found himself relegated to the Bs.

At the time Universal International had a heavy production schedule, cranking out Bs as fast as they could. U-I may not have been MGM, but with its good-looking roster of stars -- Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Julie Adams, to name a few -- Agar jumped on board with both feet and was soon rolling out B movies from 1955 to 1957. These were the films that would secure his name for all time.

With his work at U-I and later AIP, Agar's career was defined by classics like 'Tarantula', 'Revenge of the Creature', 'The Mole People', 'Attack of the Puppet People' and 'The Brain from Planet Arous'. Not an Academy award winner among them, but classics none the less. What made Agar great was that no matter how menial the roles he always strived -- and somehow managed to succeed -- to present a fully developed, three dimensional character.

In 1981 Agar received the Life Career Award by the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy And Horror Films USA.

"I don't resent being identified with B science fiction movies at all. Why should I? Even though they were not considered top of the line, for those people that like sci-fi, I guess they were fun. My whole feeling about working as an actor is, if I give anybody any enjoyment, I'm doing my job, and that's what counts." - John Agar