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Film actor Steve Cochran (May 25, 1917 - June 15, 1965) was born Robert Alexander Cochran in Eureka, California. The son of a California lumberman, he was a graduate of the University of Wyoming in 1939. After a stint working as a cowpuncher, Cochran developed his acting skills in local theater and gradually progressed onto Broadway.
From 1949 to 1952, he worked for Warner Brothers (mostly supporting roles, often playing boxers and gangsters) and appeared in many films including The Chase (1946), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Highway 301 (1950) and The Damned Don't Cry! (1950). One of his most memorable roles was as psychotic mobster James Cagney‚??s deceitful, power-hungry henchman, Big Ed Somers, in the gangster classic White Heat (1949). He won critical acclaim for his performances as a disgraced, alcoholic itinerant farmer struggling to regain the love of his family in Come Next Spring (1956), and as a troubled drifter in Michelangelo Antonioni‚??s 1957 Italian film Il Grido. Cochran starred in a string of B-movies throughout the late 1950s, including Carnival Story. He also frequently appeared in episodes of the most popular television series of the era, including guest spots on Bonanza, The Untouchables, Route 66 and The Twilight Zone.
Cochran was a notorious womanizer and attracted tabloid attention for his tumultuous private life, which included well-documented affairs with actresses such as Mae West, Jayne Mansfield, Barbara Payton, Joan Crawford, Sabrina, Merle Oberon, Ida Lupino and, perhaps most famously, Mamie Van Doren, who later discussed their sex life in graphic detail in her tell-all autobiography. He was also three times married and divorced, to actress Fay McKenzie and non-celebrities Florence Lockwood and Jonna Jensen.
On June 15, 1965, at the age of 48, Cochran died on his yacht off the coast of Guatemala due to an acute lung infection. His body, along with three alive but upset female assistants, remained onboard for ten days until the boat drifted to shore and was found by authorities. There were various rumors of foul play and poisoning, and Merle Oberon tried to use her influence to push for further police investigations, though no new evidence was found.
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