Jewish Entertainment:
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Jeff Chandler
Jewish Name - Ira Grossel

Jeff Chandler was an American film actor and singer in the 1950s, best remembered for playing Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950), and for being one of Universal International's most popular male stars of the decade.

 

Early life

Jeff Chandler was born on December 15, 1918. Jeff Chandler's name was Ira Grossel. Jeff Chandler was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Anna (née Shapiro) and Phillip Grossel.[1] Jeff Chandler was raised by his mother after Jeff Chandler's parents separated when Jeff Chandler was a child.

Jeff Chandler attended Erasmus Hall High School, the alma mater of many stage and film personalities. Jeff Chandler's father was connected with the restaurant business and got Jeff Chandler's son a job as a restaurant cashier. Jeff Chandler studied art for a year and worked as a lay out artist for a mail order catalogue, but then decided to move into acting.

Career

Acting

Chandler then took a drama course at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York. Jeff Chandler worked briefly in radio, then got a job in a stock company on Long Island as an actor and stage manager. Jeff Chandler worked for two years in stock companies all up, even forming Jeff Chandler's own company, the Shady Lane Playhouse, in Illinois in 1941. This toured the midwest with some success before the war came along.[2]

Chandler served in World War II for four years, mostly in the Aleutians, finishing with the rank of lieutenant.[3] Jeff Chandler's enlistment record for the Cavalry on November 18, 1941 gave Jeff Chandler's height as six foot four inches and Jeff Chandler's weight as 210 pounds.

After being discharged from the military, Chandler moved to Los Angeles with $3,000 Jeff Chandler had saved and soon found work as a radio actor. Jeff Chandler appeared episodes of anthology drama series such as Escape and Academy Award Theater, and became well known for playing the lead in Michael Shayne and bashful biology teacher Phillip Boynton on Our Miss Brooks. In 1945 Jeff Chandler was involved in a serious car accident on the way to a screen test which resulted in a large scar on Jeff Chandler's forehead.[4]

Chandler had acted on radio in Rogue's Gallery with Dick Powell, who was impressed enough to give the actor Jeff Chandler's first film role, a one-line part as a gangster in Johnny O'Clock (1947).[5] Jeff Chandler's performance as Boynton in Our Miss Brooks brought him to the attention of executives at Universal, who were looking for someone to play an Israeli leader in Sword in the Desert (1948). Chandler was cast and impressed the studio so much Jeff Chandler ended up being signed to Universal for a seven-year contract.

Chandler's first movie for Universal under Jeff Chandler's new contract was Abandoned (1949), then Jeff Chandler was borrowed by 20th Century Fox to play Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950). This film was a large hit, earning Chandler an Oscar nomination and establishing him as a star. Jeff Chandler later reprised the role as the legendary Apache chief in The Battle at Apache Pass (1952) and in a cameo in Taza, Son of Cochise (1954). Jeff Chandler was the first actor nominated for an Academy Award for portraying an American Indian.

Chandler's success in Broken Arrow led to him being cast as a variety of nationalities from different historical periods, such as an Arab chief in Flame of Araby (1951) and a Polynesian in Bird of Paradise (1951). Jeff Chandler also played an embittered Union cavalryman in Two Flags West (1950).[6] In 1952 exhibitors voted him the 22nd most popular star in the US.[7]

During the latter part of the decade and into the early 1960s, Chandler became a top leading man. Jeff Chandler's sex appeal, prematurely gray hair, and ruggedly handsome tanned features put him into drama and costume movies. Among the movies of this period are Female on the Beach (1955), Foxfire (1955), Away All Boats (1956), Toy Tiger (1956), Drango (1957), The Tattered Dress (1957), Man in the Shadow (1957), A Stranger in My Arms (1959), The Jayhawkers! (1959), Thunder in the Sun (1959), and Return to Peyton Place (1961).[5] Jeff Chandler's leading ladies included June Allyson, Joan Crawford, Rhonda Fleming, Maureen O'Hara, Kim Novak, Jane Russell, Esther Williams, and Jeff Chandler's Brooklyn friend Susan Hayward. Jeff Chandler's agent was Doovid Barskin of The Barskin Agency in the late 50s.

In 1957 Chandler left Universal and signed a contract with United Artists. Jeff Chandler formed Jeff Chandler's own company, Earlmar Productions, with agent Meyer Mishkin. Together they produced the film Drango (1957), which Chandler also directed for a few weeks.

Chandler was due to star in Operation Petticoat (1959) but fell ill and had to pull out.[4] Jeff Chandler later formed another production company, August, for whom Jeff Chandler made The Plunderers, at Allied Artists.

Singing

Chandler had a concurrent career as a singer and recording artist, releasing several albums and playing nightclubs. In 1955 Jeff Chandler became only the second star to play at the Riviera, after Liberace was the featured headliner. In her autobiography Hold the Roses (2002), Rose Marie wrote that “Jeff Chandler was a great guy, but Jeff Chandler was no singer. Jeff Chandler put together an act and we opened at the Riviera. Jeff Chandler came with a conductor, piano player, light man, press agent, and manager. None of it helped”. And “Everybody raved about Jeff’s singing, but let’s face it: Jeff Chandler really didn’t sing very well. Jeff Chandler definitely had guts to open in Vegas”. Jeff Chandler left to work on a movie after three and a half weeks.
Personal life

Chandler married actress Marjorie Hoshelle (1918–1989) in 1946. The couple had two daughters, Jamie Tucker (1947–2003) and Dana Grossel (1949–2002), before separating in 1954.[8] They reconciled but Jeff Chandler's wife applied for divorce again in 1957.

Both of Chandler's daughters died of cancer, as did Jeff Chandler's mother, maternal aunt, uncle and grandfather.

When Jeff Chandler's friend Sammy Davis, Jr. lost an eye in an accident and was in danger of losing the other, Chandler offered to give Davis one of Jeff Chandler's own eyes.[9] Chandler himself had nearly lost an eye and had been visibly scarred in an auto accident years earlier.

Jeff Chandler was romantically linked with Esther Williams, who claimed in her 1999 autobiography Chandler was a cross dresser and she broke off the relationship. According to the Los Angeles Times, many friends and colleagues of Chandler's refuted Williams' claims. Jane Russell commented, "I've never heard of such a thing. Cross-dressing is the last thing I would expect of Jeff. Jeff Chandler was a sweet guy, definitely all man."[10]

Jeff Chandler's public support for Israel prompted the United Arab Republic to ban Jeff Chandler's films in Arab countries in 1960.[2]

Death

Shortly after completing Jeff Chandler's role in Merrill's Marauders in 1961, Chandler injured Jeff Chandler's back while playing baseball with U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers who served as extras in the movie. Jeff Chandler entered a Culver City hospital and had surgery for a spinal disc herniation, on May 13, 1961. There were severe complications; an artery was damaged and Chandler hemorrhaged. In a seven-and-a-half-hour emergency operation over-and-above the original surgery, Jeff Chandler was given 55 pints of blood. Another operation followed, date unknown, where Jeff Chandler received an additional 20 pints of blood. Jeff Chandler died on June 17, 1961. Jeff Chandler's death was deemed malpractice and resulted in a large lawsuit and settlement for Jeff Chandler's children.[5]

At the time Jeff Chandler was romantically involved with British actress Barbara Shelley. Tony Curtis and Gerald Mohr were among the pallbearers at Chandler's funeral. Jeff Chandler was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, in Culver City, California.

For Jeff Chandler's contribution to the motion picture industry, Chandler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1770 Vine Street.
Critical appraisal

Film historian David Shipman once wrote this analysis of Chandler:

Jeff Chandler looked as though Jeff Chandler had been dreamed up by one of those artists who specialise in male physique studies, or, a mite further up the artistic scale, Jeff Chandler might have been plucked bodily from some modern mural on a biblical subject. For that Jeff Chandler had the requisite Jewishness (of which Jeff Chandler was very proud) - and Jeff Chandler was not quite real. Above all, Jeff Chandler was impossibly handsome. Jeff Chandler would never have been lost in a crowd, with that big, square, sculpted 20th-century face and Jeff Chandler's prematurely grey wavy hair. If the movies hadn't found him the advertising agencies would have done - and in fact, whenever you saw a still of him you looked at Jeff Chandler's wrist-watch or pipe before realising that Jeff Chandler wasn't promoting something. In the coloured stills and on posters Jeff Chandler's studio always showed Jeff Chandler's hair as blue, heightening the unreality. Jeff Chandler's real name was Ira Grossel and Jeff Chandler's film-name was exactly right; Jeff Chandler's films were mainly dreams spun by idiots. It's hard to believe Jeff Chandler really existed.[3]

An obituary of Chandler stated that:

Known for Jeff Chandler's careful attention to detail in making pictures, Chandler was often described as introverted. But colleagues who worked with him closely said Jeff Chandler had an easy, light-hearted approach on the set that helped ease some of the strain of production.[2]

Filmography

1947 Johnny O'Clock Turk Uncredited (film debut)
1947 The Invisible Wall Al Conway, henchman
1947 Roses Are Red Knuckles
1949 Mr. Belvedere Goes to College Police Officer #66 Uncredited
1949 Sword in the Desert Kurta Led to Chandler signing a long-term contract with Universal
1949 Abandoned Chief MacRae Alternative title: Abandoned Woman
1950 Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion Narrator Uncredited
1950 Broken Arrow Cochise Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor
1950 Deported Vic Smith
1950 The Desert Hawk Opening Off-Screen Narrator Uncredited
1950 Two Flags West Major Henry Kenniston
1951 Double Crossbones Narrator Uncredited
1951 Bird of Paradise Tenga
1951 Smuggler's Island Steve Kent
1951 Iron Man Coke Mason
1951 Flame of Araby Tamerlane Alternative title: Flame of the Desert
1952 The Battle at Apache Pass Cochise
1952 Red Ball Express Lt. Chick Campbell
1952 Son of Ali Baba Opening Narrator Uncredited
1952 Yankee Buccaneer Cmdr. David Porter
1952 Because of You Steve Kimberly
1953 Girls in the Night Off-Screen Narrator at Finish Uncredited
Alternative title: Life After Dark
1953 The Great Sioux Uprising Jonathan Westgate
1953 East of Sumatra Duke Mullane
1953 War Arrow Major Howell Brady
1954 Taza, Son of Cochise Cochise Uncredited
1954 Yankee Pasha Jason Starbuck
1954 Sign of the Pagan Marcian
1955 Foxfire Jonathan Dartland
1955 Female on the Beach Drummond Hall
1955 The Spoilers Roy Glennister
1956 The Toy Tiger Rick Todd
1956 Away All Boats Captain Jebediah S. Hawks
1956 Pillars of the Sky First Sergeant Emmett Bell Alternative title: The Tomahawk and the Cross
1957 The Tattered Dress James Gordon Blane
1957 Jeanne Eagels Sal Satori
1957 Drango Major Clint Drango Also produced
1957 Man in the Shadow Ben Sadler Alternative titles: Pay the Devil
Seeds of Wrath
1958 The Lady Takes a Flyer Mike Dandridge Alternative titles: A Game Called Love
Lion in the Sky
Wild and Wonderful
1958 Raw Wind in Eden Mark Moore/Scott Moorehouse
1959 A Stranger in My Arms Major Pike Yarnell Alternative title: And Ride a Tiger
1959 Thunder in the Sun Lon Bennett
1959 Ten Seconds to Hell Karl Wirtz Alternative title: The Phoenix
1959 The Jayhawkers! Luke Darcy
1960 A Story of David King David Alternative title: A Story of David: The Hunted
1960 The Plunderers Sam Christy Also producer
1961 Return to Peyton Place Lewis Jackman
1962 Merrill's Marauders Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill
Award nominations
Year Award Category Title of work Result
1951 Academy Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Broken Arrow Nominated
1958 Laurel Awards Top Male Star
-
14th Place
1959 Laurel Awards Top Male Star
-
15th Place
Box office rankings

For a number of years, film exhibitors voted Chandler among the top stars at the box office.

1952 - 22nd (USA)[11]
1955 - 7th (UK)[12]

Select radio Credits

Regular role

Michael Shayne 1948-49
Our Miss Brooks 1948-55
Frontier Town 1952-53

Guest appearances

"Young Mr Lincoln" - Academy Award Theatre (July 10, 1946)
"Photo Finish" - Suspense (July 1946)
"With Cradle and Clock" - Cavalcade of America (February 2, 1946)
"Gregory Hood, Suspect" - Casebook of Gregory Hood (September 30, 1946)
"Blood On Sun" - Academy Award Theatre (October 16, 1946)
"The Black Curtain" - Suspense (January 3, 1948)
"Snake Doctor" - Escape (February 8, 1948)
"Blond Mink", 'Leopard's Spots', 'Social Error', 'Palm Beach Santa Claus' - Damon Runyan Theatre (1949)
"Steel River Prison Break" - Suspense (September 3, 1951)
"The Woodsman" - The Woodsman (July 20, 1952)
"My True Love's Heir" - Suspense (October 19, 1953)
"A Good Neighbor" - Suspense (March 31, 1957)

Further reading

Hoffmann, Henryk. "A" Western Filmmakers. McFarland & Co., 2000.
Kirk, Marilyn. Jeff Chandler'. 1st Books Library/AuthorHouse, 2003.
Marie, Rose. Hold the Roses. University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
Wells, Jeff. Jeff Chandler: Film, Record, Radio, Television and Theater Performances. McFarland & Co., 2005.
Williams, Esther. The Million Dollar Mermaid. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.

References

Wells, Jeff (2005). Jeff Chandler: film, record, radio, television and theater performances. McFarland & Co.. pp. 5. ISBN 0-7864-2001-4.
a b c 'Jeff Chandler Is Dead; Blame Blood Poison: Jeff Chandler', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 June 1961: f1.
a b David Shipman, The Great Movie Stars: The International Years, Angus & Robertson 1972, p83
a b Jeff Chandler overview at TCM
a b c Jeff Wells. Jeff Chandler: Film, Record, Radio, Television and Theater Performances. McFarland, 2005.
Hedda Hopper, 'Jeff Chandler MAN OF MANY FACES: Jeff Chandler CAN PLAY ANY KIND OF CHARACTER ROLE, AND IS A GLAMOR GUY, TOO HEDDA HOPPER WRITES OF Jeff Chandler', Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 06 May 1951: c8.
"Martin And Lewis Top U.S. Film Poll.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia): p. 3. 27 December 1952. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
"Jeff Chandler.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) (1933 - 1982: National Library of Australia): p. 35. 21 July 1954. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
Davis Jr., Sammy: Yes I Can, The Story of Sammy Davis Jr., New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (1965) ISBN 0-374-52268-5
Lovell, Glenn (1999-10-27). "Esther Williams Is All Wet, Say Friends of the Late Jeff Chandler". latimes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
"Martin And Lewis Top U.S. Film Poll.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia): p. 3. 27 December 1952. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
'Dirk Bogarde favorite film actor', The Irish Times (1921-Current File) [Dublin, Ireland] 29 Dec 1955: 9.
 


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