Jack O’Halloran: He Can Talk

By Clarence George on November 3, 2014
Jack O’Halloran: He Can Talk
He claims his father was Albert Anastasia, "The Lord High Executioner." So, a little respect.

O’Halloran had Christopher Reeve up against the wall during the making of the second Superman film, but director Richard Donner intervened…

“He wore a shaggy borsalino hat, a rough gray sports coat with white golf balls on it for buttons, a brown shirt, a yellow tie, pleated gray flannel slacks and alligator shoes with white explosions on the toes. From his outer breast pocket cascaded a show handkerchief of the same brilliant yellow as his tie. There were a couple of colored feathers tucked into the band of his hat, but he didn’t really need them. Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.”—Farewell, My Lovely

The name Jack O’Halloran doesn’t come up much in conversations about great heavyweights. Or near great. Or very good. Or even adequate. All right, maybe adequate.

“The Giant” fought from 1966 to 1974. Save for a draw against Roosevelt Eddie, he won his first 16 fights. But he then began to unravel, losing to Joe Bugner, George Foreman, Mac Foster, Jack Bodell, Ron Stander, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, and Boone Hickman, among others. True, he beat Cleveland Williams, but that was in 1971, when “Big Cat” was well past his prime.

O’Halloran won California’s heavyweight title in 1972, beating Henry Clark, and successfully defended it against Robie Harris and Charlie Reno, but lost it to Howard Smith in what proved to be his last fight.

Jack wound up with a record of 34 wins, 17 by knockout, 21 losses, eight by knockout, and two draws.

Only a year after leaving the ring, the big man lucked out, scoring the plum role of Moose Malloy in 1975’s Farewell, My Lovely.

The best movie version of the Raymond Chandler classic is probably 1944’s Murder, My Sweet, starring Dick Powell as simile-loving private dick, Philip Marlowe, and Mike Mazurki ideally cast as Malloy. But the ‘75 version, with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe, wearing a fedora as though born to it and a Victor Mature pinstripe, is a close second. That’s mainly because of Mitchum, what with that unmade bed of a face of his, but also because of O’Halloran. Moose is no-nonsense tough, sure, but he’s also got a heart. Another thing he’s got is moolah. Anyway, enough of it to hire Marlowe to find his beloved, little Velma Valento, who was “cute, cuter than lace pants.” It’s a role that calls for depth, nuance, and poignancy, all of which O’Halloran supplies in spades.

Jack turned down the role of Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, which instead went to recently deceased Richard Kiel. But he appeared as the Kryptonian goon, Non, in Superman and Superman II. A non-speaking role, and the one for which he’s best known, O’Halloran reports that most fans’ reaction on meeting him is, “My God, he can talk!”

He also could shove. He had Christopher Reeve up against the wall during the making of the second Superman film, but director Richard Donner intervened, pointing out that hitting Reeve could prove impolitic.

Unlike so many boxers, and actors, the 71-year-old’s life seems to be the stuff that dreams are made of. All right, that’s Sam Spade, not Philip Marlowe. Sue me.

One other thing: O’Halloran claims his father was Albert Anastasia, “The Lord High Executioner.” So, a little respect.

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  1. Clarence George 03:49am, 11/10/2014

    As for George Reeves—yup, don’t hold with these newfangled Supermen myself.

  2. Clarence George 06:25pm, 11/09/2014

    The only thing I didn’t like about “Cape Fear” was the ending, when Peck tells Mitchum that he’ll rot in prison.  Like hell he will—he’ll be executed.

  3. Jethro Tull 05:16pm, 11/09/2014

    “As far I’m concerned, there’s only one Superman—George Reeves”.

    Dear, dear, dear.

  4. Jethro Tull 05:13pm, 11/09/2014

    “And I’m indeed one of those who think Mitchum was incomparably better than De Niro in “Cape Fear.”

    Add me to that list.

    The original film is much better than the remake. Robert Mitchum was a good physical match-up to Gregory Peck, something the much smaller De Niro doesn’t have though De Niro is a great actor.

  5. Clarence George 04:50am, 11/07/2014

    Don’t hold me to it, Rick, but I think O’Halloran was on the Jets’ farm team, before trying out for the Eagles.  But I don’t think he wound up playing for either one.

  6. Rick Paap 10:50pm, 11/06/2014

    Didn’t O Halloran play some pro football before he boxed. I think he was a lineman with the Eagles!

  7. Kid Blast 07:24am, 11/05/2014

    “delectable: and “juicy” Freud is stirring in his grave.

  8. Clarence George 02:29pm, 11/04/2014

    You have a point, Frank.  In fact, the novel’s Anne Riordan, in whom Marlowe has a romantic interest, doesn’t appear in the movie exactly because of Mitchum’s age.  As for Bogie, my favorite actor, his interpretation of Marlowe in “The Big Sleep” is outstanding.  I love the bookstore scene of mutual seduction between him and delectable Dorothy Malone.

  9. FrankinDallas 02:09pm, 11/04/2014

    Mitchum is one of my fave acfors, but he was too old and
    paunchy to play Marlowe at the time. Bogie was better, and he had Bacall to pl ay with.

  10. Clarence George 01:35pm, 11/04/2014

    Eric:  Democracy is another in a long line of gods that have failed.  My advice is to focus on boxing, beautiful women, old movies and TV shows, goulash, beverages made with beef bouillon, and naps.  Feel free to put those in any order you like.

  11. Eric 11:40am, 11/04/2014

    Clarence…I think elections have become auctions. Goldman Sachs, Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, Koch brothers, etc., have these politicians right in their pockets. Not much difference in the Rockefeller Republicans and the democrats out there, same people are pulling their strings. Liked, “State of Emergency,” by Buchanan. Good luck on tonight’s results, but I can’t help but feel we are being played like a fiddle by these crooks.

  12. Clarence George 09:55am, 11/04/2014

    You’re quite right, Eric—I just came back from voting, which was about as quintessentially futile as it gets.  I did get a little flirting in, however, and was interviewed by Brazilian TV.

    Buchanan is usually on target.  I especially like his “The Death of the West.”

    Nicolas:  I do indeed like “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.”  Also, “Angel Face.”  Don’t think I ever saw “Foreign Intrigue.”

    What’s interesting about the Reeve-Superman films is, despite how big they were in their day (especially the first one), they haven’t withstood the test of time particularly well.

  13. nicolas 08:51am, 11/04/2014

    CLARENCE: Spot on HIS KIND OF WOMAN, Vincent Price steals the show. I;ll have to check IMBD, but agree with you on Rhonda Fleming, though I remember Jane Russel being in HIS KIND OF WOMAN. I also remember A KILLER IN THE FAMILY, a movie made for TV, and very depressing. Most people dismiss this film, but I always liked Mitchum in FOREIGN INTRIGUE. He just for me gives that STAR MAKING KIND OF PERFORMANCE. He also I think showed that he could have been an American James Bond, perhaps playing Matt Helm instead of Dean Martin, the books which I hear were nothing like those films. However, I don’t always think he picked his films to well. I am perhaps one of the few who do not like his performance in HEAVEN KNOWS MR. ALLISON, I just find him too hammy in that one, though it would have been nice if he had done more films with John Huston. As for the Superman films, I saw the second one of the Reeves films, and though Gene Hackman was great in it, found it silly, and i was 23 when I saw it. I watched a bit of the third one on TV, what struck me about that was while Richard Pryor was in that, from what I saw, Robert Vaughn as I guess the villain stole that film from Pryor with his funny lines.

  14. Eric 08:50am, 11/04/2014

    I always thought Pat Buchanan called the two parties, two wings of the same vulture. Seems Pat really said, “two wings of the same bird of prey,” and that line was first uttered by a couple of American socialists in the 1920’s. I live in a very “red state” at this point and time, so my vote doesn’t matter as much as it did when I lived in a “purple state” like Florida. But Clarence, you are in one of the bluest of blue states and in NYC at that. Talk about fighting behind enemy lines. That takes conviction. Kudos.

  15. Clarence George 08:27am, 11/04/2014

    Eric:  The Republican Party is a disgrace, but the Democratic Party is a bastion of evil.  So…

    Duane Bobick—another one best described as adequate.

  16. Clarence George 08:22am, 11/04/2014

    The chick to whom you’re referring, KB, is Barrie Chase, whom I always found muy sexy.

    I remember when Mitchum says, in that low-grade accent, “I made her put in a lot of dirty words,” to which Gregory Peck says, “You’re a shocking degenerate.”  Oh, and when Mitchum says how Peck’s underage daughter is getting to be as “juicy” as her mother.  Jeez!

  17. Eric 08:18am, 11/04/2014

    Always get Rangel and Sharpton confused. Must be the hairstyles. teehee. Only kidding. Can’t get any slimier than those two buffoons. I guess conservatives consider republicans the lesser of two evils, but I’m somewhat tired of republicans taking my vote for granted. THEY only know me when election time comes around. I’ve been criticized for not voting, although I did vote for Romney out of desperation, no way would I ever vote for McCain. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen conservatives or republicans gain any substantial amount of ground, even during the Reagan years. Seems like both the conservative movement and the republican party are just sparring partners for the dems and liberals to pound on to get into shape. Will still be watching the election coverage somewhat out of curiousity though. I would rate Ledoux slightly above Wepner & O’Halloran. Wepner & Ledoux can both lay claim to losing to Duane Bobick, Ledoux losing to Duane twice. Bobick actually looked pretty decent in the Wepner bout, never have seen Bobick-Ledoux I & II.

  18. Kid Blast 08:09am, 11/04/2014

    Charlie Rangel makes me sick

  19. Kid Blast 08:08am, 11/04/2014

    Mitchum was superb in G.I. Joe: The Story of Ernie Pyle. He broke onto the scene big time and then did some reefer to add to his aura.

    His scream in the Night of the Hunter was bone chilling/

    And the look he gave that chick in Cape Fear before he attacked her and did irregular things to her was memorable—as was asking the bartender for “another blast.”

    Yep. Mitchum was something else.

  20. Clarence George 07:55am, 11/04/2014

    Hear what Charlie Rangel said, Eric?  “Some of them [Republicans] believe that slavery isn’t over and that they [Republicans] won the Civil War!”  Um, Republicans did win the (misnamed) Civil War, which is why slavery is over.  What a maroon, to quoth the Bugs.

    Love Mitchum in “The Night of the Hunter” (a very good book, by the way), though I think the ending is quite weak.  And I’m indeed one of those who think Mitchum was incomparably better than De Niro in “Cape Fear.”  But I also don’t agree with you that Joe Frazier would have the slightest chance against Joe Louis.  I like you anyway.

    LeDoux came to a bad end, and I’m sorry about that, but I never thought he was more than barely adequate.  And his jaw was an accurate reflection of his name—soft.

    As for Norton-O’Halloran—Norton won, but only by decision.

  21. Eric 07:31am, 11/04/2014

    Election day? Wonder how many dead people will be voting AGAIN? How many people will cast their vote multiple times?  I always liked Mitchum in, “The Night of the Hunter.” I’m probably one of the scant few who like Robert De Niro better in the remake of, “Cape Fear,” however.

  22. Eric 07:00am, 11/04/2014

    Scott Ledoux was another one of those O’Halloran/Wepner type fighters, though not as large. I think Ledoux’s lists of opponents is even more impressive than those comprised by O’Halloran & Wepner. The guy fought everybody it seems except for Ali & Frazier. Ledoux vs Wepner would have been another interesting fight. Would love to see the O’Halloran-Norton fight, heard Jack put up a pretty good fight in that one.

  23. Clarence George 03:53am, 11/04/2014

    Nicolas:  Unlike, say, Montgomery Clift (whom I detest), Mitchum was about as far from narcissistic method acting as one could get.  He saw acting as just another job—“Where do I stand and what are my lines?”—but that didn’t stop him from giving outstanding performances.  One of my favorites is “His Kind of Woman,” though Vincent Price absolutely steals the show.  I also like “The Locket,” directed by the great John Brahm.  And if you like your Mitchum chillingly evil (as I do), I strongly recommend the TV movie, “A Killer in the Family.”   

    Wasn’t Rhonda Fleming in “Out of the Past”?  Gorgeous redhead.  Speaking of which, I used to know Arlene Dahl (and her husband) fairly well.  They live on the Upper East Side.  I didn’t see Mitchum’s version of “The Big Sleep,” because I heard it was godawful, a misguided and failed attempt to capitalize on the success of “Farewell, My Lovely.”  And I never even heard of “The Yakuza”!  Appreciate the tip.

    I saw the first Reeve-Superman movie with a quite lovely masseuse.  After the film, I took her to dinner at Smith & Wollensky, which I no longer consider one of the better steakhouses.  I rather liked the movie, but not the sequels…anyway, not the ones I saw.  As far I’m concerned, there’s only one Superman—George Reeves, whose mysterious death continues to fascinate me.  Ben Affleck (another actor I loathe) did an admittedly good job portraying him in a so-so movie, “Hollywoodland.”

    Speaking of acting, I’m seeing tonight the Broadway revival of “On the Town,” followed by dinner at Joe Allen, one of the few restaurants where I can still get a Bullshot.  Not a big fan of musicals, and I was hoping to watch the election returns (not really sure why I enjoy that), but whaddya gonna do?

  24. nicolas 02:08am, 11/04/2014

    I have always been a big Robert Mitchum fan Clarence. I remember as a young teen going with my parents down to Southern Cal in the early 70’s, and turning on the TV, and here was this guy in a great movie OUT OF THE PAST. Watching that, as an older teen, I could not understand why he did not play Philip Marlowe, of course not to long afterwards, he did, in two movies. I also was one of the few who got to see him in the film THE YAKUZA, when it was first released. I swear to you that it only played a week, and could never understand why it was not more publicized considering the talent like Sydney Pollack as director. I don’t know if you have it here about the Reeves incident, but O’Halloran said that Reeves was very immature at the time, and I guess had an attitude which Jack did not appreciate. I know a lot of people like those Reeves Superman films, but I much more prefer the last two made in the last 8 years.

  25. Clarence George 07:32pm, 11/03/2014

    That’s a good question, Eric.  After all, they were both tough ham-and-eggers of the same era, and fought some of the same guys, such as Foreman and Bugner.  Hmmm…

  26. Eric 05:01pm, 11/03/2014

    O’Halloran seems to have fought just about everybody back then. Wonder how he escaped fighting Chuck Wepner? Two big, lumbering guys, who were never serious contenders, but decent enough to pose at least somewhat of a threat to the top guys.

  27. Kid Blast 03:20pm, 11/03/2014

    Mitchum, Palance,, and Marvin. Same peas in a great pod.

  28. Clarence George 01:38pm, 11/03/2014

    Thanks, Mike.  I’m always glad of the opportunity to plug Mitchum, an amazingly neglected actor.

  29. Mike Casey 11:53am, 11/03/2014

    Nice nod here to Robert Mitchum, Clarence - a great actor and a favourite of mine. I remember him being interviewed some years ago when he was celebrating coming out of detox with a vodka or ten!

  30. Eric 09:45am, 11/03/2014

    I do recall seeing Mr. Kiel in the Wild Wild West but couldn’t recall his character’s name until you mentioned it. Just googled a scene with Kiel from his Wild Wild West days, damn he looked young back then. I remember Kiel best for his role in the original, “The Longest Yard” with our good friend, Robert Tessier.

  31. Eric 09:35am, 11/03/2014

    Didn’t recall Mr. Cassidy, googled him up and remember the guy instantly. Remember him from, “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, during the knife fight scene with Paul Newman. Didn’t know that was Lerch in that knife scene either, must have been the makeup he wore for the Adams Family. The guy does resemble Kiel, now that you mention it. At 6’9” he was huge, but Kiel was even bigger than Lerch, Kiel was a 7-footer if I’m not mistaken.

  32. Clarence George 09:29am, 11/03/2014

    By the way, Eric, you may recall, as a fellow fan of “The Wild Wild West,” that Kiel played Voltaire, Dr. Loveless’ sidekick.

  33. Clarence George 09:08am, 11/03/2014

    Eric:  Kirkman, not Hickman, and I apologize for the mistake.

    Ted Cassidy is another one.  I always confuse him with Kiel.  My brother and a friend were convinced they saw Cassidy in London a few years ago.  Impossible, I told them, as he had already been long dead.  Perhaps it was Kiel…or O’Halloran.

  34. Eric 08:59am, 11/03/2014

    Funny how you mention that Dick Kiel took on the role of “Jaws” after Jack turned the job down. Those two always reminded me of each other, even though Kiel was even larger than O’Halloran. Did you mean Boone Kirkman instead of Boone Hickman? Boone is gonna be pissed at that diss. teehee. Just kidding. Guys like O’Halloran, Duke Sabedong, Jim Beattie and others back in the Ali-Frazier era were just as large as the fighters of today, just not as talented. I’m sure there was even one or two obscure 7-footers competing on the ham & egger circuit somewhere during that time period.

  35. Clarence George 08:47am, 11/03/2014

    Thank you kindly, KB.

  36. Kid Blast 08:31am, 11/03/2014

    Wow. A blast from the past. I recall him well and I think James Ellroy may have used him as a fictional model in some of his books.

    Good stuff and truly unique

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