Jon Hall won overnight stardom in the 1937 South Seas spectacular "Hurricane." That he should be chosen for the role of the smooth-muscled native hero seemed almost inevitable — although born in Fresno, Hall grew up in Tahiti and was once the the island's swimming champion. He also claimed his mother was descended from Tahitian royalty.
Hall was an unknown $150 contract player at Goldwyn Productions when he was cast in "Hurricane." It didn't hurt his chances that the movie was based on a novel written by Hall's uncle, James Norman Hall, and his collaborator Charles Nordhoff. Nordhoff and Hall also wrote "Mutiny on the Bounty."
After "Hurricane," the 6-foot-2 actor starred in a long series of bare-chested romantic adventure films with titles such as "Aloma of the South Seas," "South of Pago Pago," and "On the Island of Samoa."
Hall is best remembered by the television generation as the rugged hero of "Ramar of the Jungle," a syndicated series that occasionally rivaled "I Love Lucy" in the ratings during the early 1950s. One of his last acting jobs was in 1963 when he took a role in an episode of "The Perry Mason Show."
Hall was married to singer-actress Frances Langford from 1938 to 1955. Both were pilots and they were partners for several years in a Santa Monica flying service. He married former actress Raquel Torres Ames in 1959. They were divorced several years later.
In 1944, Hall was a central figure in a real-life drama that resulted in more publicity than any of his cinematic roles. It was known as "the battle of the balcony," a fight between Hall and big band leader Tommy Dorsey from which Hall emerged with a large slice taken out of his nose.
Much more than an actor and a celebrity, Hall was also a pilot, an inventor, orchardist and boat designer. He invented a shark-killing device and developed an underwater camera for the U.S. Navy. With his father, he also developed the Locher-Hall Telecurve map, a revolutionary cartographic device.
In his last years, he was occupied with his camera lens firm, Optivision Co. of Santa Monica.