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Victor McLaglen Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (34) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 December 1886Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, UK
Date of Death 7 November 1959Newport Beach, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameVictor Andrew de Bier Everleigh McLaglen
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Rambunctious British leading man (contrary to popular belief, he was of Scottish ancestry, not Irish) and later character actor primarily in American films, Victor McLaglen was a vital presence in a number of great motion pictures, especially those of director John Ford. McLaglen (pronounced Muh-clog-len, not Mack-loff-len) was the son of the Right Reverend Andrew McLaglen, a Protestant clergyman who was at one time Bishop of Claremont in South Africa. The young McLaglen, eldest of eight brothers, attempted to serve in the Boer War by joining the Life Guards, though his father secured his release. The adventuresome young man traveled to Canada where he did farm labor and then directed his pugnacious nature into professional prizefighting. He toured in circuses, vaudeville shows, and Wild West shows, often as a fighter challenging all comers. His tours took him to the US, Australia (where he joined in the gold rush) and South Africa. In 1909 he was the first fighter to box newly-crowned heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, whom he fought in a six-round exhibition match in Vancouver (as an exhibition fight, it had no decision). When the First World War broke out, McLaglen joined the Irish Fusiliers and soldiered in the Middle East, eventually serving as Provost Marshal (head of Military Police) for the city of Baghdad. After the war he attempted to resume a boxing career, but was given a substantial acting role in The Call of the Road (1920) and was well received. He became a popular leading man in British silent films, and within a few years was offered the lead in an American film, The Beloved Brute (1924). He quickly became a most popular star of dramas as well as action films, playing tough or suave with equal ease. With the coming of sound, his ability to be persuasively debonair diminished by reason of his native speech patterns, but his popularity increased, particularly when cast by Ford as the tragic Gypo Nolan in The Informer (1935), for which McLaglen won the Best Actor Oscar. He continued to play heroes, villains and simple-minded thugs into the 1940s, when Ford gave his career a new impetus with a number of lovably roguish Irish parts in such films as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Quiet Man (1952). The latter film won McLaglen another Oscar nomination, the first time a Best Actor winner had been nominated subsequently in the Supporting category. McLaglen formed a semi-militaristic riding and polo club, the Light Horse Brigade, and a similarly arrayed precision motorcycle team, the Victor McLaglen Motorcycle Corps, both of which led to apparently erroneous conclusions that he had fascist sympathies and was forming his own private army. The facts prove otherwise, and despite rumors to the contrary, McLaglen did not espouse the far right-wing sentiments often attributed to him. He continued to act in films into his 70s and died, from heart failure, not long after appearing in a film directed by his son, Andrew V. McLaglen.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (3)

Margaret Pumphrey (19 December 1948 - 7 November 1959) (his death)
Suzanne Marie Brueggeman (20 November 1943 - 16 December 1948) (divorced)
Enid Mary Lamont (1919 - 2 April 1942) (her death) (2 children)

Trivia (34)

Father of film director Andrew V. McLaglen.
Brother of actor Clifford McLaglen.
Brother of actor Cyril McLaglen.
Brother of actor Kenneth McLaglen
Brother of actor and sculptor Arthur McLaglen.
Father-in-law of actress Veda Ann Borg.
Daughter Sheila McLaglen born 1920.
Interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, USA.
Grandfather of Mary McLaglen.
Brother of actor Leopold McLaglen.
Before becoming an actor, he worked as a carnival boxer. If anyone could stay in the ring with him for one round and not be knocked down, they won a box of cigars.
In spite of being a powerful hulk his whole life (his huge shoulders making even John Wayne's look small), he was 64 and in declining health by the time he was in The Quiet Man (1952). Even prickly John Ford had to be sensitive to McLaglen's condition while shooting that movie's grueling fight sequence.
Was nearly 50 before he became a bankable actor in films like The Lost Patrol (1934) and The Informer (1935).
He was cast mostly as Irishmen, particularly by John Ford, but he was actually British, his ancestry being mainly Scot.
Boxed and wrestled under the nickname 'Sharkey' McLaglen, as well as under his real name, prior to his movie career. His lifetime boxing record (as far as is known) was 11-6-1, with 9 KOs. His 1909 bout with legendary champion Jack Johnson in Vancouver was a six-round exhibition bout. Two years later, he boxed Jess Willard, the "Great White Hope" who eventually beat Johnson in a heavyweight title bout in 1915.
Younger brother of boxer Fred McLaglen, aka Fred McKay (lifetime boxing record 6-11-2)
Under the pseudonym Paul Romano, McLaglen boxed future heavyweight champion Jess Willard in a four-round exhibition match in Springfield, Missouri, on 26 September 1911.
According to a 1912 newspaper report, McLaglen participated in a fencing duel with one Carl Brosius in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, prior to that date.
First performer to win an Oscar for a performance in a remake. The Informer (1935), the movie that won him an Oscar, was a remake of The Informer (1929).
Born British, McLaglen became a U.S. citizen in January, 1933.
During the British administration of the League of Nations mandate of Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in the 1920s, McLaglen, who was a sergeant in the British army, was appointed provost marshal - chief of military police - for Baghdad.
In 1932, while still a British citizen, McLaglen captained a band called the Hollywood Light Horse, described as "a military organization formed to promote Americanism and combat Communism and radicalism subversive to Constitutional government." For the most part, McLaglen and his troopers marched around in their specially tailored military uniforms to their favorite restaurants and bars. When that bid for social attention began to wane, Hollywood Light Horse members began drifting over to a parallel organization known as the Hollywood Hussars. The more serious purpose of the Hussars was to invade the Soviet Republic of Georgia to secure drilling rights for an American oil millionaire who was bankrolling their enterprise. At one point, McLaglen was a member along with George Brent, the sheriff of Los Angeles County and the city police chief. Gary Cooper was described as one of the sponsors, but that assertion was withdrawn following protests by Cooper's representatives. In any event the Hussars never got to invade Georgia - their most conspicuous public outing was a march one afternoon down to the Los Angeles newspaper offices of William Randolph Hearst, where they serenaded the publisher from the sidewalk in a group song, in gratitude for his anti-Communist editorials.
He left home at 14 to join the British army with the intention of fighting in the Second Boer War. However, much to his disappointment, he was stationed at Windsor Castle and was later forced to leave the army when his true age was discovered.
When he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Quiet Man (1952), he became the first male actor to be nominated for a supporting role after having already won an Oscar for a leading role, having won the Best Actor Oscar for The Informer (1935) seventeen years earlier. The first performer to do this was Jennifer Jones, who won the Best Actress Oscar for The Song of Bernadette (1943) and was a Supporting Actress nominee for Since You Went Away (1944).
He died about a month after his final role in an episode of Rawhide (1959), directed by his son Andrew V. McLaglen.
Grandfather of Assistant Director and Executive Producer Josh McLaglen.
Grandfather of Director Gwyneth Horder-Payton.
Claimed he was four years older than he really was so he could enlist in the London Life Guards and fight in the Boer War.
McLaglen and brother Arthur at one time hunted lions in Africa,.
Prospected for gold and silver during strikes in Cobalt, Ontario just after the turn of the century.
Victor and brother Fred did a strongman/boxer vaudeville act in Canada and were billed as "The Romano Brothers." They posed as 'living statue,' recreated the boxing styles of well-known pugilists, and Fred crushed rocks on Victor's chest using a sledgehammer.
He became a bodyguard for an Indian rajah. After one of his employer's guests accidentally shot him in the leg during a hunt, he was promoted to food taster. Luckily for McLaglen he quit the job--before the rajah was poisoned to death.
He formed a uniformed private army in the early 1930s made up of British, Scottish and Irish WW I veterans. He called it the California Light Horse Troop and gave himself the rank of colonel. At one point it numbered 800 with 150 airmen. Public opinion at the time was very negative but, according to writer Philip Blzeibfred, the entire group volunteered for service during WWII and was accepted.
Donald Crisp delivered the eulogy at his 1959 funeral.

Personal Quotes (3)

[about his early years] Acting never appealed to me, and I was dabbling in it solely as a means of making money. I rather felt that the greasepaint business was somewhat beneath a man who was once a reasonably useful boxer.
[about his professional bout with boxer Jack Johnson] He never knocked me down . . . but he sure beat the livin' be-Jesus out of me.
I have no illusions about acting and certainly I have none about myself. Long ago I came to the conclusion that actors are victims of luck and circumstance. If the role you are in fits the size of your head and some inherent quality in yourself, you do it well.

Salary (3)

The Call of the Road (1920) £180
The Beloved Brute (1924) $300 per week
Gunga Din (1939) $62,000

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