TV and movie star Steve Forrest, best remembered for his role on the Aaron Spelling-produced cop drama "S.W.A.T.," died May 18 at his home in Thousand Oaks, California, at age 87.
"S.W.A.T." aired for just two seasons on ABC in 1975-76, but the concept proved so popular that a big-screen adaptation starring Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson was released in 2003. Forrest made a cameo appearance in the movie, while the role he played in the series — S.W.A.T. leader Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson — was played by Jackson.
Forrest had a prolific TV career in addition to "S.W.A.T.," starring in many of the most popular series in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, including "The Twilight Zone," "The Virginian," "Rawhide," "The Fugitive," "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Mission: Impossible," "The Streets of San Francisco," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Cannon," "Kojak," "Columbo," "Hotel," "L.A. Law," "Murder, She Wrote," and "Dallas."
Watch the "S.W.A.T." intro:
The actor, the younger brother of "The Best Years of Our Lives" movie star Dana Andrews, also won a Golden Globe for the 1953 big-screen drama "So Big" and had roles in "The Longest Day," "North Dallas Forty," "Flaming Star," "Spies Like Us," and "Mommie Dearest," among others.
Forrest was born in 1925 in Texas, the youngest of 13 children born to a Baptist minister and his wife. He fought with the Army in World War II, graduated from the theater arts department at UCLA, and got a career break when Oscar-winning actor Gregory Peck saw him perform in a play and helped him land a screen test and contract at MGM.
Forrest, whose birth name was William Forrest Andrews, is survived by his wife of 64 years, Christine Carilas, as well as three sons (including one named Forrest, who presumably uses his father's birth surname).
For TV and movie fans who don't remember Forrest's work in "S.W.A.T.," five other projects that might make you say, "Hey, I remember him!":
During the 10th season of the original series, Forrest played Wes Parmalee, a man who showed up at Southfork claiming to be the real Jock Ewing. Jock had died years earlier -- or had he? -- and Parmalee convinced nearly everyone, including wife Miss Ellie, that he had survived and gotten plastic surgery, and was now returning home to reclaim his rightful place as the Ewing paterfamilias. Jock's sons J.R. and Bobby, as well as Miss Ellie's new hubs, Clayton Farlow, would have none of it, however, and Bobby eventually came up with the evidence that forced Parmalee to admit his scam and flee Dallas before ol' J.R. did some serious damage to him.
Forrest won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor for "Dearest," but fans of the deliciously campy guilty-pleasure gem will almost certainly remember him fondly as Joan Crawford's attorney Greg Savitt, who was also doing double duty as her lover. He was also the one responsible -- for better or worse (cue the wire hangers scene) -- for the Oscar-winning actress adopting daughter Christina, whose memoir was the basis for the movie.
In a season 14 episode of the classic TV western titled "Mannon," Forrest played the titular character, Will Mannon, a bad-guy gunslinger who wreaked havoc on Dodge City, including Festus and Miss Kitty, while James Arness's Marshal Matt Dillon was away. Mannon eventually gets his comeuppance and lands in the hoosegow, of course, but he stewed about getting vengeance for years ... in TV time, anyway. The "Mannon" episode aired in 1969, but in 1987, Forrest reprised the role again for the TV movie "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge," in which Mannon is sprung from jail and goes right off in search of Matt and Kitty.
Elvis Presley and Forrest played half-brothers in this 1960 western, which was originally set to star Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.
"Murder, She Wrote"
Forrest was clearly a favorite of the "Murder, She Wrote" gang, as he guest starred in five episodes, playing five different characters, including a yacht captain in "Race to Death," a cop in "Terminal Connection," a sheriff in "Trevor Hudson's Legacy," a televangelist in "Murder in the Electric Cathedral," and the proprietor of a ghost town turned tourist attraction in "Night of the Coyote."