Many may not immediately know his name – or might just associate it with his famous actor father – but Andrew McLaglen was a great director. And talk about growing up in the industry. Just imagine getting to watch the filming of Gunga Din – and becoming friends with Cary Grant, just out of high school!
Director Andrew V. McLaglen Dies at 94
Andrew V. McLaglen, a specialist with the sagebrush who directed John Wayne in five films and helmed scores of episodes of the classic CBS Western series Gunsmoke, Have Gun — Will Travel and Rawhide, has died. He was 94.
McLaglen, whose father was the Oscar-winning British actor Victor McLaglen, died Saturday at his Friday Harbor home in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, the Journal of the San Juan Islands reported.
According to IMDb, McLaglen from 1956 through 1965 directed 96 episodes of the legendary series Gunsmoke and guided 116 installments that spanned the entire run of the popular Have Gun — Will Travel, which aired from 1957-63 and starred Richard Boone as a gentleman gunfighter named Paladin.
The 6-foot-7 McLaglen called the shots for Wayne in the Westerns McLintock! (1963) — which he always said was his big career break — The Undefeated (1969), Chisum (1970) and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973) and directed the famed actor in Hellfighters (1968), an action film about oil-well firefighters.
He paired with James Stewart for the Westerns Shenandoah (1965), The Rare Breed (1966) and Bandolero! (1968) and for the comedy Fools’ Parade (1971).
McLaglen also directed such feature Westerns as The Ballad of Josie (1967), starring Doris Day and Peter Graves; The Way West (1967) with Kirk Douglas; One More Train to Rob (1971), starring George Peppard; Something Big (1971) with Dean Martin; and The Last Hard Men (1976), starring Charles Bronson.
McLaglen helmed the war films The Devil’s Brigade (1968), starring William Holden; The Sea Wolves (1980) with Gregory Peck; and Breakthrough (1979) with Richard Burton.
His film résumé also includes the Disney comedy Monkeys, Go Home! (1967); Mitchell (1975), starring Kirk Douglas; The Wild Geese (1978) with Burton; North Sea Hijack (1979) with Roger Moore; Sahara (1983) with Brooke Shields; and his final film, Eye of the Widow (1991), with F. Murray Abraham.
His father, the burly Victor McLaglen, a former professional boxer, won the best actor Oscar for his work in John Ford‘s The Informer (1935) and also starred in such classic films as Gunga Din (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950) and The Quiet Man (1952), the latter three also directed by Ford and starring Wayne. (McLaglen also earned an Oscar nom for The Quiet Man.)
Andrew McLaglen, who was born July 28, 1920, in London but grew up around Hollywood, learned the art of directing from the likes of Ford. He directed his first film, Gun the Man Down, starring Gunsmoke star James Arness, in 1956, and helmed his dad in The Abductors (1957) and in a 1959 episode of the Clint Eastwood starrer Rawhide, which aired a month before Victor McLaglen’s death in November 1959.
In a 2009 interview, McLaglen talked about spending two weeks on the set of Gunga Din shortly after he graduated from high school.
“I got to see [director] George Stevens, Cary Grant, my father and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in action, which was quite an experience!” he recalled. “I just kept out of the way, because they were working hard; they had a picture to make! I had another school buddy with me at the time, we were 18 and 19 years old, and we had a terrific time.
“We got to know Cary and Doug Jr. and Joan Fontaine; what a great group of people they were! And George Stevens — in years to come, whenever I bumped into him, we would always talk about those Gunga Din days, because I think that was one of his favorite projects.”
McLaglen also directed episodes of such series as Hotel de Paree, Perry Mason, Gunslinger, Banacek and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and did the 1977 telefilm Murder at the World Series, starring Lynda Day George, and installments of the 1982 miniseries The Blue and the Gray.
The Journal noted that The Palace Theater on the San Juan Islands has a Wall of Fame in its foyer in McLaglen’s honor featuring on-location and photographs from his career. He moved to the area in 1997.