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Jody McCrea Biography

Jody McCrea

Just as strapping (6' 3") and amiably handsome as his actor/father, Joel McCrea, Jody was born Joel Dee McCrea on September 6, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, and bore a strong resemblance to his famous namesake. The oldest of three children, his mother was actress Frances Dee and his two younger brothers are David McCrea and Peter McCrea. Jody had little interest in the entertainment field until his early 20s when he began appearing in minor film roles. Making his unbilled debut in Lucy Gallant (1955), he was afforded the opportunity of first working with his dad in the films The First Texan (1956) and Trooper Hook (1957). He moved up to co-star status in the short-lived TV western series "Wichita Town" (1959), which again starred his dad.From there, he found employment in other western and action films including Lafayette Escadrille (1958), All Hands on Deck (1961), The Broken Land (1962) and Young Guns of Texas (1962).
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However, he is most fondly remembered for his recurring comic role as the dim-eyed, carefree lug "Deadhead" (later named "Bonehead") in a number of the frivolous "Beach Party" flicks, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, which were released by American International Pictures between the years 1963 and 1965. As a trivia note, Jody was the only cast member other than Robert Cummings who could really surf.Jody appeared on TV over the years as well and kept his genial personality an attractive trademark. Although he secured a footing in the business, McCrea found it difficult to escape the shadow of his father, especially in western drama, but comedy served as a welcome individualistic approach. Nevertheless, outside of performing occasionally in community theater over the next few years, McCrea decided to retire from acting altogether in 1970 after appearing in and producing the film Cry Blood, Apache (1970). For the remaining decades, he became a cattle rancher in New Mexico. His wife of 20 years, Dusty McCrea (aka Dusty Iron Wing), who appeared as the Indian "Dancing Moon" in the film Windwalker (1981), died of complications from diabetes in 1996. Jody passed away in 2009 of cardiac arrest at his Roswell ranch.