DCS: jeffrey hunter

king of kings

Hank McKinnies, Jr. began his acting career on radio and in local theater. His big break came when he was spotted by talent scouts and offered a contract with 20th Century Fox. Using the stage name “Jeffrey Hunter,” he was cast in a bit part in a 1950 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with a young Charlton Heston as “Mark Antony.”

After a few more roles, Jeffrey was loaned out to Warner Brothers to make The Searchers with John Wayne. He played “Martin Pawley,” Wayne’s adopted nephew, a role originally intended for Fess Parker, until Disney Studios refused to loan Parker out. The Searchers is considered very influential and was named the greatest American western by the American Film Institute in 2008.

In 1961, Jeffrey starred as “Jesus Christ” in Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings. His performance received the full spectrum of review and reaction — from high praise to ridicule. Based on Jeffrey’s boyish good looks and piercing blue eyes, the film was nicknamed by critics “I Was A Teenage Jesus.” He bounced back with a heroic part in the all-star war epic The Longest Day.

The 60s brought Jeffrey to a starring role in a tongue-in-cheek Western series called Temple Houston, co-starring veteran character actor Jack Elam. The series never quite found its footing or its audience and, by the time it was cancelled, the joke circulated that its premise concerned a synagogue in Texas.

Jeffrey accepted the offer to shoot a pilot for a new science-fiction series called Star Trek. He would play a starship’s commanding officer Christopher Pike. After filming wrapped, he sent show creator Gene Roddenberry a letter asking for separation from the project, wanting to concentrate on his film career. Scenes from the pilot were used in the two-part “The Menagerie” episodes once Star Trek was picked up by the network.

Jeffrey sustained a serious concussion when an explosion on a movie set in Spain went wrong. He was in shock on the plane ride back to the United States and was unable to speak. After a thorough examination at a hospital, he was released. Months later, he suffered an intracranial hemorrhage while on a flight of stairs at his home in Van Nuys, California. He was found by his wife — unconscious with a fractured skull. He was taken for emergency brain surgery, but it was unsuccessful. Jeffrey passed away the next morning at the age of 42.

Actress Ruta Lee, a guest star on Temple Houston, once commented: “Jeffrey was one of the prettiest people that ever was put on the screen.”



DCS: haji

Using a nickname “Haji” given to her as child, the former Barbarella Catton worked as a topless dancer in her native Quebec, Canada at the age of 14. She was recruited by notorious sexploitation director Russ Meyer and in 1965, Haji made her film debut as “Rosie” in the campy cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Haji joined the ranks of Meyers’ stock players and appeared in several more films for the director, including Motorpsycho, Supervixens, Good Morning and… Goodbye! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Haji worked with other directors in the genre, even expanding her acting credibility with a role in John Cassavetes’ thriller The Killing of a Chinese Bookie in 1976.

Haji reunited with Meyer and his muse Kitten Natividad in the 2001 erotic spoof The Double-D Avenger playing evil exotic dancer “Hydra Heffer.” After one more film — 2003’s imaginatively titled Killer Drag Queens on Dope costarring Alexis Arquette (credited as “Eva Destruction”) and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs — Haji retired from the screen. She returned to dancing until her death in 2013 at the age of 67.

Although she never married, Haji had a daughter, Cerlette Lammé. Cerlette, a professional ice skater, had a long-term romantic relationship with actor Kelsey Grammer.



DCS: gene maclellan

Gene MacLellan grew up in Toronto, raised in a traditional Presbyterian household. As a child, he contracted polio. Despite his illness, he was a determined singer and songwriter, using his music to overcome his physical ailments. As a teenager, he formed a band called The Consuls. They evolved into Little Caesar and the Consuls, a fairly successful Canadian group, but by that time, Gene had left the band, forming The Suedes with future Band guitarist Robbie Robertson.

In 1963, Gene was in a serious car accident that took the life of his father and left the singer badly injured with facial scars and irreparable damage to his left eye. He wore an eye patch or dark glasses for the rest of his life.

While living on Prince Edward Island, Gene was inspired by a flock of snow buntings to write Snowbird. He performed the song on several Canadian music showcase programs, including the popular Singalong Jubilee. He became a regular on the show, along with another up-and-coming Canadian singer named Anne Murray. Murray included her own version of Snowbird on her 1969 debut album and it became a Top Ten international hit.

In 1971, Gene hit big again when the Canadian group Ocean recorded his gospel-tinged composition “Put Your Hand in the Hand.” Gene’s songs were performed and recorded by many top acts, including Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, and even Bing Crosby. Gene, himself, toured Canada and released albums with a decidedly religious leaning. He became very involved with the inspirational music community, playing intimate venues and gaining a small, but devoted, following.

Although he had success in the music business, Gene suffered from depression for his entire life. His condition worsened as he grew older. He sought medical help often and was in and out of hospitals on a regular basis. Just after being discharged from the hospital in January 1995, Gene committed suicide at his PEI home. He was 56.

In 2017, Gene’s daughter Catherine produced a tribute show based on her father’s music, as well as his struggle with mental illness.



DCS: sergio vega

After performing with his brothers in a traditional Latin music group, Sergio Vega branched out as a solo act in 1994. An accomplished singer and accompanist on the bajo sexto, Sergio turned his musical focus to the Narcocorrido musical sub-genre, a style of narrative ballad that glorifies the world of drug smuggling, trafficking and other related illegal activities.

On June 26, 2010, Sergio gave an interview to a Mexican entertainment website, dispelling rumors that he was murdered by a drug cartel. He laughed off the accusations and went on to talk about his upcoming concert that evening. He did, however, mention that security surrounding him and his entourage had been increased. He left the interview in his red Cadillac, headed to the scheduled concert.

While driving just a few hours later, gunmen in a passing truck opened fire on Sergio’s car, hitting him and his passenger in the head and chest at close range. Investigation determined he had been shot more than 30 times. Sergio was 40 years old.



DCS: john anthony bailey

John Anthony Bailey performed in various college productions and improvisational theater as a student at Oakland’s Merritt College. He appeared in the Sun Ra science fiction film Space is the Place in 1972. John landed a regular role in the Sid and Marty Krofft children’s fantasy series Wonderbug in 1976. He also played the character “Sticks” the drummer, a member of Richie Cunningham’s rock band,  in two episodes of the popular sitcom Happy Days. He had guest spots in M*A*S*H*, Good Times and in the comedy film Kentucky Fried Movie followed.

In the early 1980s, using the name “Jack Baker,” John began a career in the adult film industry.  He had roles in the pornographic films  Let Me Tell Ya ’bout White Chicks and New Wave Hookers, as well as The Devil in Miss Jones 3: A New Beginning and The Devil in Miss Jones 4: The Final Outrage. Once called on to participate in hardcore sex scenes, John later stepped into “non-sex” roles in the Devil in Miss Jones series. He was relegated to comedic scenes that exploited racial stereotypes for a cheap laugh. He went on to appear in over 140 adult films.

John passed away in 1994 from bladder cancer. He was 47.