Biography

The son of a sales engineer and born in New Orleans, Jeffrey Hunter was raised in Milwaukee, WI. While still in high school, Hunter acted on Milwaukee radio station WTMJ; this led to summer stock work. After serving in the Navy, Hunter attended Northwestern University, where he continued his stage appearances and was featured in the 1950 film version of Julius Caesar, which starred Charlton Heston. Attending U.C.L.A. on a scholarship, Hunter was spotted by a Hollywood agent while starring in a school production of All My Sons. He made his first "mainstream" film appearance in 20th Century Fox's Fourteen Hours, a film which also served as the debut for Grace Kelly. His movie career gained momentum after he co-starred with John Wayne in the Western classic The Searchers (1956). In 1961, Jeffrey Hunter was cast as Jesus Christ in The King of Kings; the actor's youthful appearance prompted industry wags to dub the picture "I Was a Teenaged Jesus," though in fact Hunter was 33 at the time. Few of his post-King of King roles amounted to much, and by 1967 he was one of several former Hollywood luminaries knocking about in European films. From 1950 through 1955, Hunter was married to actress Barbara Rush, who years after the divorce would remember Hunter fondly as the handsomest man she ever met. Jeffrey Hunter died of a concussion at 42, after an accidental fall in his home. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi