Monday, June 13, 2016

John Agar


John George Agar, Jr. (January 31, 1921 – April 7, 2002) was an American actor best known for appearing with John Wayne in the films Sands of Iwo Jima, Fort Apache, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. In his later career, Agar was the star of B movies, such as Tarantula, The Mole People, The Brain from Planet Arous, Revenge of the Creature, Flesh and the Spur, and Hand of Death. Also, he was the first husband of Shirley Temple.

Agar was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lillian (née Rogers) and John Agar, Sr., a meat packer. He was educated at the Harvard School for Boys in Chicago and Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois and graduated from Trinity-Pawling Preparatory School in Pawling, New York, but did not attend college. He and his family moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1942 after his father’s death.

During World War II Agar served in the United States Army Air Corps, mostly at the March Field in Riverside, California, serving as a physical fitness instructor. He was a sergeant at the time he left the AAF in 1946.

Agar's sister was a schoolmate of Shirley Temple. In 1944, Agar escorted Temple to a party held by her boss at the time, David O. Selznick. The two fell in love and were married in 1945. Selznick signed Agar to a five-year acting contract starting at $150 a week, including acting lessons.

Shirley was 17 when she married John.
Agar and Temple worked together in Fort Apache and Adventure in Baltimore. Agar later reunited with John Wayne in two more hits, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Sands of Iwo Jima.

Agar and Temple had a daughter together, Linda Susan Agar, in 1948, (who was later known as Susan Black, taking the surname of her stepfather Charles Alden Black). However, the marriage foundered, in part because of Agar's drinking (he had been arrested for drunk driving) and in part because of pressures of their high public profile. Temple sued for divorce in 1949.

Agar's career suffered in the wake of his divorce, but he developed a niche playing leading men in low-budget science fiction, Western, and horror movies in the 1950s and 1960s. John Wayne gave him several supporting roles in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In later years, he worked extensively in television.

"I don't resent being identified with B science fiction movies at all," Agar later said. "Why should I? Even though they were not considered top of the line, for those people that like sci-fi, I guess they were fun. My whole feeling about working as an actor is, if I give anybody any enjoyment, I'm doing my job, and that's what counts."

After his divorce from Temple, Agar remarried in 1951 to model Loretta Barnett Combs (1922–2000). They remained married for 49 years until her death in 2000. They had two sons, Martin Agar and John G. Agar, III.

Agar died on April 7, 2002 at Burbank, California of complications from emphysema. He was buried beside his wife at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California, and was survived by his three children.

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