Oscar Actors: Whitman, Stuart (Nominee for The Mark) Dies at 92

Stuart Whitman, the handsome actor who received an Oscar nomination for playing a convicted child molester trying to start a new “normal” life in The Mark, has died. He was 92.

Whitman died Monday of natural causes at his home in Montecito, California, according to his son, Justin.

At the height of his career, Whitman appeared with Joanne Woodward in The Sound and the Fury (1959), starred opposite Simone Signoret as an American pilot downed in Nazi-occupied France in The Day and the Hour (1963), and portrayed the heroic American Orvil Newton in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965).

John Wayne Movies

Whitman starred twice opposite John Wayne, first as the New Orleans gambler Paul Regret in The Comancheros (1961), Michael Curtiz’s final feature, and then as an army lieutenant in the all-star World War II epic The Longest Day (1962).

Though CBS’ Cimarron Strip lasted just one season (1967-68) and 23 original episodes, Whitman remains known for his turn as Marshal Jim Crown on the series, one of the first on TV to run for 90 minutes. He produced and had a financial interest in the period Western as well.

Whitman also played a patrolman on the Broderick Crawford series Highway Patrol in the 1950s and appeared as “Pa” Kent on the 1988-92 syndicated series Superboy. In Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979), he starred as a despicable leader of a cult.

In recent years, Whitman showed up as an old friend of Chuck Norris’ on Walker, Texas Ranger.

In the British film The Mark (1961), directed by Guy Green, Whitman stepped in for Richard Burton, who was doing Camelot on Broadway, to star as a child molester who gets out of prison, enlists the help of a psychiatrist (Rod Steiger) to try to lead a normal life and then is outed — wrongly — by a reporter after another kid is reported as a possible abuse victim.

“Near the end of the film I got a call from the writer [Sidney Buchman] on it, and he said, ‘You might get an Oscar out of this role,'” Whitman recalled in a 2013 interview with Alan K. Rode. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure, right.'”

Whitman did get nominated for best actor but lost out to Judgment at Nuremberg’s Maximilian Schell — whose sister, Maria, played Whitman’s love interest in The Mark. “Maria told me she didn’t know who to vote for that year!” he said.

The 1962 category also included heavyweights Spencer Tracy, Paul Newman and Charles Boyer.

Stuart Whitman was born Feb. 1, 1928 in San Francisco. When he was 3, he and his family moved to Brooklyn, and he graduated from Hollywood High.

During a two-year stint with the U.S. Army Engineer Corps, Whitman won all but one of his 24 boxing matches as a light heavyweight, then played football and studied acting at Los Angeles City College. To help make ends meet, he bought, operated and hired out his own bulldozer.

At the Ben Bard Drama acting school, Whitman appeared as a prize fighter in a production of Here Comes Mr. Jordan and attracted the attention of Hollywood talent scouts.
Whitman had his movie debut in When Worlds Collide (1951), appeared on TV shows like Boston Blackie and Lux Video Theatre and made an impression opposite Ethel Barrymore and Carolyn Jones as the wild title character in Johnny Trouble (1957).

When Charlton Heston bowed out of the Warner war movie Darby’s Rangers (1958), James Garner replaced him and Whitman took on Garner’s role, playing the soldier Hank Bishop.

He portrayed a trumpet player who impregnated a young girl (Diane Varsi) in Ten North Frederick (1958), and signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. He went on to star in Hound-Dog Man (1959), The Story of Ruth (1960), Murder, Inc. (1960), Convicts 4 (1962), Shock Treatment (1964), Rio Conchos (1964) and Sands of the Kalahari (1965).

In the 1970s, Whitman was a stout presence on such shows as The F.B.I., Night Gallery, S.W.A.T. and Quincy M.E. and starred on the big screen in Run, Cougar, Run (1972), Shatter (1974), Jonathan Demme’s Crazy Mama (1975) and Eaten Alive (1976), directed by Tobe Hooper.

Whitman made his last onscreen appearance on the 2000 CBS movie The President’s Man, starring Norris.