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Forrest Meredith Tucker (February 12, 1919 – October 25, 1986) was an American actor in both movies and television who appeared in nearly a hundred films.
Tucker described himself as a farm boy. He was born in Plainfield, Indiana, on February 12, 1919, a son of Forrest A. Tucker and his wife, Doris Heringlake. His mother has been described as an alcoholic. Tucker began his performing career at age 14 at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, pushing the big wicker tourist chairs by day and singing "Throw Money" at night. After his family moved to Washington, D.C., Tucker attracted the attention of Jimmy Lake, the owner of the Old Gaiety Burlesque Theater, by winning its Saturday night amateur contest on consecutive weeks. After his second win, Tucker was hired there at full time as Master of Ceremonies, but left when it was soon discovered that he was underage. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., in 1938, and, joining the United States Cavalry, was stationed at Fort Myer in Arlington County, Virginia, but discharged for, once again, being underage. He returned to work at the Old Gaiety after his 18th birthday.
When Lake's theatre closed for the summer in 1939, Tucker was helped by a wealthy mentor to travel to California and try to break into film acting. He made a successful screen test, and began auditioning for movie roles. In his own estimation, Tucker was in the mold of large "ugly guys" such as Wallace Beery, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen, rather than a matinee idol. His debut was as a powerfully built farmer who clashes with the hero in The Westerner (1940), which starred Gary Cooper.
Like many other movie actors at the time, Tucker enlisted in the United States Army during World War II; he earned a commission as a second lieutenant.
Tucker married four times:
Sandra Jolley (1919–1986) in 1940, divorced in 1950, daughter of the character actor I. Stanford Jolley (who also died of emphysema) and the sister of the Academy Award-winning art director Stan Jolley. They had a daughter, Pamela "Brooke" Tucker.
Marilyn Johnson on March 28, 1950 (died on July 19, 1960).
Marilyn Fisk on October 23, 1961. They had a daughter, Cindy Tucker, and son, Forrest Sean Tucker.
Sheila Forbes on April 15, 1986.
Tucker, who had battled lung cancer for more than a year, as well as having a series of minor illnesses, collapsed and was hospitalized, for the second time in a week, on his way to the ceremony for his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 21, 1986. He died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital on October 25, 1986, a few months after the theatrical release of Thunder Run and Outtakes. He was interred in Forest Lawn–Hollywood Hills Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills. CLR