Ladies and Gentlemen: John Agar

Born in Chicago on January 31, 1921, B-movie legend John Agar did not harbor a desire to be an actor early on. During World War II, the 6’3″ Agar had served as a physical training instructor with the U.S. Army Air Corp. By chance, he was invited to be an escort for child star Shirley Temple, then 16 years old. After a whirlwind courtship, Agar and Temple married in 1945. Shortly after the wedding, producer David O. Selznick signed Agar to a contract upon his discharge from the service. Acting lessons followed, during which Agar proved to be a quick study and showed much promise. His first film role came in the 1948 John Wayne film Fort Apache, which also featured Temple in a lead role. Agar proved to be a sturdy actor, and this film began his long association and friendship with John Wayne. The same year of Agar’s film debut, he and Temple welcomed the birth of their daughter, but the marriage dissolved by the end of 1949. In the summer of 1951, Agar married his second wife, Loretta.

Although Agar’s early career had shown great promise—and outlasted Temple’s acting career—stories of his hard drinking spilled over into the press. Several drunk-driving arrests landed Agar in jail and nearly derailed his film career. But he somehow bounced back, and by the mid 1950s John Agar was starring in some of the best 1950s low-budget horror films, for which he’s best known today.