Forrest Tucker, the flamboyant veteran of burlesque, movies, and stage and television roles in a show business career spanning half a century—is perhaps best known as Sgt. O'Rourke in the old "F Troop" television series.
A blustery 6-foot-5, Tucker thought of himself as the last of a breed of big "ugly guys" in the mode of Wallace Beery, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen, who didn't care what they looked like.
"I look in the mirror and I say, 'Forget it: what else is new,' " he once told a columnist. "But I know how to do a line, do a take. Let me do the basics. Let other people care about being pretty."
Despite his performances in nearly a hundred Western and action motion pictures, starting with "The Westerner," starring Gary Cooper in 1940, Tucker considered himself more of an entertainer than an actor.
Tucker came to Hollywood in 1938. At first, he played mostly heavies and villains in the 1940s.
His first starring roll was in Republic's "Rock Island Trail" (1950).
Other films included "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "Chisum," both starring his close friend John Wayne, "Keeper of the Flame," "The Yearling," "Pony Express," "The Abominable Snowman" and "The Night They Raided Minsky's."
In 1958, he was chosen to portray "Professor" Harold Hill, the title role in a national touring company of "The Music Man," and reviewers compared him favorably to Robert Preston, who had originated the role in Meredith Willson's paean to small-town America.
After touring "The Music Man" for four years Tucker turned to television, starring with comedians Larry Storch and Ken Berry in 65 episodes of "F Troop," beginning in 1965. Tucker played Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke in a zany version of the post-Civil War cavalry.
Tucker subsequently was teamed with Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island" for a syndicated situation comedy, "Dusty's Trail," which lasted only one season, and he was in the short-lived "Ghost Chasers" of 1976.