Jeff Chandler was a beloved American Actor who is best known for his amazing performance playing Cochise in “Broken Arrow.” He did so wonderfully in that role, that he even received an Oscar nomination for it! He passed away suddenly when he was only 43 years old, and he is still remembered and beloved by fans who fell in love with his gentle smile and amazing skills.
Jeff Chandler was born Ira Grossel to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, on December 15, 1918. He was the only child of Anna and Phillip Grossel, who divorced when he was only a young child. He attended Erasmus Hall High School, a place where many stage and film personalities would later graduate from, in fact, he attended school with Susan Hayward!
Jeff’s first job was as a cashier in a restaurant, that he got thanks to his father’s connections. He worked hard to put himself through school. He couldn’t afford the acting classes, so he settled for commercial art classes, which he then used to get a job as a layout artist for a catalog, making $18 a week. After saving up and taking a drama course at the Feagin School of Dramatic Art in New York, he worked in radio and then moved to a job in a stock company where he worked as an actor and stage manager.
In 1941, Jeff started his very own company, the Shady Lane Playhouse, that he based out of Illinois. They toured the Midwest and performed plays such as The “Bad Man,” “Pigs,” and “Seventh Heaven.” When America joined World War II, he enlisted in the Army where he served in the Aleutian Islands for the next four years. He was discharged as a Lieutenant and moved to Los Angeles with the $3,000 he had managed to save.
From there, he took on a job as a radio actor in programs such as “Michael Shayne” and then moved into film roles. He performed in “Rogue’s Gallery,” “Johnny O’Clock,” and “The Loves of Carmen.” When he performed in “Sword in the Desert,” Universal Studios executives fell in love with his work so much that they had him sign a seven-year contract!
However, it wasn’t until he took on the role of Cochise in the western film, “Broken Arrow,” that he rose to true stardom! He earned an Oscar nomination for the role and was the first actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for their portrayal of an American Indian. After that role, he was given a chance to be the leading man in many films, such as “Deported,” and “Two Flags West.”
Sadly, his future in the industry came to a halt when in April of 1961 he was playing baseball with U.S. Army Special Forces while on set for his film, “Merrill’s Marauders” and he injured his back. Over the next few months, he underwent several surgeries to repair his back. On June 17, 1961, he passed away as a result of a blood infection, leaving behind his two daughters, Jamie Tucker and Dana Grossel.
The loss of Jeff Chandler was mourned by his loving daughters and the fans of his amazing acting. Following his death, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture industry. Even today, 56 years after his death, his fans keep his memory alive with Facebook accounts and websites dedicated to his memory.