Richard Egan ’39

One of the most famous students to attend SI graduated in 1939. Richard Egan starred in Love Me Tender (1956), in which Elvis Presley made his debut, Disney’s Pollyanna (1960), and A Summer Place (1959), playing Sandra Dee’s father.

At SI he performed in The Dragon’s Breath and The Bat and won the Freshman Elocution Medal. He got to know all the priests by working the switchboard at Welch Hall. After graduating from USF, where he participated in the College Players Theatre productions, he enlisted in the Army during World War II and served as a judo instructor before being discharged in 1946 with the rank of captain.

He picked up his acting career at Stanford after the war, earning a master’s degree in theater history, and at Northwestern University, where he taught and appeared in 30 shows.

A Warner Bros. talent scout eventually spotted him and signed him to a contract. After a series of supporting roles, he became a star for 20th Century-Fox, which likened him to Clark Gable, and cast him in a number of adventure movies including A View from Pompey’s Head in 1955, Esther and the King in 1960 andThe 300 Spartans in 1962. He also starred in Up Front, Hollywood Story, The Devil Makes Three, Seven Cities of Gold, Split Second, The Glory Brigade, Demetrius and the Gladiators, and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

In 1962, Egan began a career in television as Jim Redigo in Empire, a contemporary western series; for its second season, the show changed its name to Redigo. Toward the end of his career, he played the role of Samuel Clegg II on the soap opera Capitol until his death in 1987. Among the pallbearers for his funeral were his close friends Robert Mitchum and boxer Floyd Patterson. (Both Egan and his brother, Fr. Willis Egan, SJ ’35, a theology professor at USF, were lifelong fans of boxing. They numbered among their friends many of the champions who fought at the Olympic Auditorium in LA. “I enjoyed watching Richard’s boxing movies when we would hold ‘Jesuit Night at the Fights’ at Loyola University,” recalls Fr. Kotlanger. “He was a generous man who frequently attended SI and USF events to boost alumni enthusiasm.” Fr. Kotlanger also recalls that Herb Caen used to joke that Fr. Willis Egan should have become an actor as he was better looking than his brother.)

During his career he received the Laurel Award and was ranked among the top tier of entertainers by Good Housekeeping magazine. He was survived by his five children and by his wife, Patricia, whom he married in 1958 at Star of the Sea Church at a Mass officiated by his brother. His cousin Grace White noted in the spring 1989 issue of Genesis II that Egan was happy to land the Capitol part as it allowed him to spend more time with his family. “Rich was a wonderful family man,” said Mrs. White. “His family meant everything to him. Even though he was in Hollywood, Rich lived a quiet life and was very private. He was a holy man, truly a religious person.”