Actor Doug McClure, star of such TV Westerns as “The Virginian” and “The Men From Shiloh,” died Feb. 5 of cancer at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. His death surprised friends who thought the actor had beaten cancer. He was 59.
“We had thought he was getting better,” longtime friend and actor Robert Fuller said Monday. “And (toward the end) he was more concerned about his family than himself.”
McClure died with family and friends by his side.
On Dec. 16, McClure unveiled his Hollywood Walk of Fame star. McClure said the honor helped his yearlong fight against lung cancer: “It gave me the incentive to get well, and I am well.”
The blond, boyish star rode his way from a teenage bronco buster to starring roles in TV Westerns, but he also was remembered for such TV series as “Out of This World” in 1988.
McClure began riding horses at age 8. As a teenager, he spent summers on a Nevada cattle ranch, where he was a bronco-buster in occasional rodeos. His role as Trampas in “The Virginian” was a natural.
An ambitious, big-budget NBC project, “The Virginian” was the first filmed series with 90-minute episodes. The character McClure played, a villain in the Owen Wister novel and the three movie versions, was rehabilitated in the series as a happy-go-lucky cowpoke.
McClure’s first acting job came in a syndicated series, “Men of Anapolis.” Movies followed: “The Enemy Below,” “Gidget,” “The Unforgiven.”
Signed to a contract by Universal, McClure began a long career in TV. He also appeared in such Universal features as “Shenandoah,” “Beau Geste,” “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Backtrack.”
After his break into TV Westerns and eight successful years of “The Virginian,” NBC introduced a spinoff, “The Men From Shiloh.” It lasted one season.
In 1972-73, McClure appeared in the high-tech spy series “Search.”
McClure returned to TV series in 1975 for the one-season Western “Barbary Coast,” co-starring with William Shatner. He made guest appearances on such series as “Magnum, P.I.,” “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “Murder, She Wrote.”
Over the years he appeared in telepix including “The Birdmen,” “The Judge and Jake Wyler” and “Nightside,” and 1977 miniseries “Roots.”
Later film credits include “Humanoids From the Deep,” “Cannonball Run II,” “52 Pickup,” “Omega Syndrome,” “Dark Before Dawn” and “Tapeheads.”
McClure recently resumed his acting career in an episode of TV’s “Kung Fu” in Toronto, and in Rysher’s “One West Waikiki” shot in Hawaii.
But on Jan. 8, the actor collapsed from an apparent stroke on the ‘Waikiki” set and was flown back to Los Angeles. Doctors discovered the cancer had spread to his liver and bones.
In addition to his wife, Diane, McClure is survived by two children from previous marriages, Tane and Valerie McClure; his mother, Clara Clapp; and a brother, Reed.