Jack Mahoney

To many of us we remember the opening commentary over the film title and credits of  the Range Rider series on Television back in the 1950s – ‘with Jack Mahoney as The Range Rider’

I can nearly hear these words again as I think back.   This was one of the best series to appear on British Television at the time and we always looked forward to it with it’s thrilling opening sequence.

Jack Mahoney as The Range Rider

Anyway, I recently purchased an autobiography on Sally Field the actress who I hadn’t realised was Jack Mahoney’s Step Daughter.  Early in 1952 her Mother had married Jacques O’Mahoney  – his real name – although Sally would always refer to him as ‘Jocko’.

She described him as a cross between Errol Flynn and Randolph Scott – two of the actors he had doubled for in his career as a stuntman following his leaving the US Marines where he had flown aircraft from carriers and later became an instructor.

He was an expert with horses and many times in his stuntman years, would leap on a moving horse or fall off it or whatever was necessary – without the safety equipment available today.

Sally’s Mother had met him on the set of The Range Rider which co-starred Dick Jones. Jocko and Dick had toured with a stunt show  where it is said that Jocko had broken every bone  in is body at least once.  Jocko was a stuntman turned actor who Sally Field describes as only an average actor but a great stuntman.

She goes on to speak quite highly of Jack Mahoney in the early years but not so much as she grew older.  All in all though, I think she conveys his great work ethic and his ability to do his job – and to grasp opportunities when they came along in his career.

Shown from left: Sally Field, Jock Mahoney (stepfather), Rick Field (ca. 1952)

In the 1948 film   Adventures of Don Juan Director Vincent Sherman recalled staging the climactic fight scene which involved a leap from a high balcony  and could find only one stuntman – Jack Mahoney – who was willing to leap from a high staircase in the scene.

Jock Mahony was the go- to- fall guy for any leap of faith. He made a name for himself within the stunt community and a top 1000 $ by jumping down a staircase from a standing position in “The Adventures of Don Juan”.

 

Jack Mahoney  demanded and was paid  $1,000 to do this dangerous stunt.

So Errol Flynn’s daring leap from a descending stair case was actually  in reality Jocko.

Stunt Man

Born in Chicago of 1919 Jacques O’Mahoney excelled at swimming, basketball, and football at the University of Iowa. During World War II he was a Marine flight instructor. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a horse breeder. He soon was doubling Charles Starrett in the Durango Kid westerns. Jock also doubled Gregory Peck, Randolph Scott and Rod Cameron. One of a few incedibly talented stuntmen he later became a TV star alongside Gene Autry

Much later in his career, at the age of 44, he played Tarzan in Two quite good films – Tarzan Goes to India and Tarzans Three Challenges. In the second one his main adversary would seem to have been Woody Strode but in reality it was serious illness that was the real enemy as half way through the making of this film,  Jack Mahoney contracted dysentery, dengue fever, and pneumonia.

His weight plummeted by around 45 lbs – and he struggled to finish the film – but he did which was in itself a superhuman effort. On his return home he took almost a year to recover fully from this.

Scenes from these two big widescreen colour Tarzan films – below

Tarzan Goes to India

Scene from Tarzan Goes to India – here with Jai

Tarzan Goes to India 2

Scene from Tarzan Goes to India – watch out for the Cobra

Tarzan Goes to India 3

Scene from Tarzan Goes to India – here with an elephant on location

Tarzans Three Challenges

Scenes from Tarzans Three Challenges as he fights with Woody Strode.

 

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