Friday, July 29, 2022

A Birthday Tribute to Stephen McNally

Attorney-turned-actor Stephen McNally was born in New York City on July 29, 1911.


McNally, a graduate of Fordham University Law School, worked as an attorney for a few years before achieving success on the Broadway stage under his birth name, Horace McNally. 

His theatrical roles included playing the doctor in JOHNNY BELINDA, which opened in 1940; in the film, made years later, he switched to the villain's role played on stage by Willard Parker.


He's seen above with Helen Craig in the Broadway production.


McNally continued to act under the name Horace McNally in the first phase of his career, when he played small roles at MGM from 1942 to 1946. His parts included "Doc" White in THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944).


He's seen here with Angela Lansbury in THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946):


When Warner Bros. brought JOHNNY BELINDA to the screen in 1948 and his career moved into higher gear, McNally began using the name Stephen, which was the name of one of his sons. He's seen below in the film with Jane Wyman, who won an Oscar for her performance.


Immediately after JOHNNY BELINDA McNally signed with Universal Pictures and his career took off, playing both leads and major supporting roles in numerous Westerns and crime films. He's seen here in a  publicity photo for his role as the detective in one of his first Universal films, the noir classic CRISS CROSS (1949).


Here he's seen in one of his best-known, most memorable roles as villainous Dutch Henry Brown in the classic Western WINCHESTER '73 (1950):


One of my favorite McNally Westerns is THE DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (1952) with Audie Murphy, Susan Cabot (seen here), and Faith Domergue:


Another favorite Western is APACHE DRUMS (1951) with Coleen Gray:


An excellent later film with Audie Murphy was HELL BENT FOR LEATHER (1960):


Stephen and his wife Rita were married in 1941. They had eight children in all, five girls and three boys, some of whom were featured in charming publicity photos over the years:




McNally retired in 1980 and died at his home on N. Hillcrest Road in Beverly Hills on June 4, 1994. He was 82. The Los Angeles Times obituary indicated he was survived by Rita, all of their children, and eight grandchildren.


McNally's funeral was held at the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. He is buried under his birth name, Horace Vincent McNally, at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. (July 30th Update: I was able to pay my respects today at McNally's final resting place, and my photo has been inserted above.)


Stephen McNally made numerous highly enjoyable films over the course of his career. He's seen above in NO WAY OUT (1950) in which he played the doctor who mentors a younger physician played by Sidney Poitier.


Here are links for McNally's films previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings:

As Horace McNally: GRAND CENTRAL MURDER (1942), THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY (1942), EYES IN THE NIGHT (1942), DR. GILLESPIE'S NEW ASSISTANT (1942), THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944), THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946).  Update: I've now also reviewed FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942).

As Stephen McNally: CRISS CROSS (1949), THE LADY GAMBLES (1949), WOMAN IN HIDING (1950), WINCHESTER '73 (1950), NO WAY OUT (1950), WYOMING MAIL (1950), AIR CADET (1951), APACHE DRUMS (1951), IRON MAN (1951), THE RAGING TIDE (1951), DIPLOMATIC COURIER (1952), THE DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (1952), SPLIT SECOND (1953), THE STAND AT APACHE RIVER (1953), VIOLENT SATURDAY (1955), HELL'S FIVE HOURS (1958).

Reviewed in my Western RoundUp column for Classic Movie Hub: WYOMING MAIL (1950), APACHE DRUMS (1950), THE DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (1952), THE STAND AT APACHE RIVER (1953), HELL BENT FOR LEATHER (1960).

4 Comments:

Blogger Éowyn said...


Stephen McNally has piqued my interest in the past, and I can't wait to take a deep dive into all of your reviews. I've watched bits of "Apache Drums" and LOVED it, the casting of the leads is pure loveliness.

I have a theory that men who were as often cast as bad guys were just as likely to be good family men!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

What a great choice of actor for a feature, Laura! I note that McNally was born 2 months to the day after my father.
I have come to appreciate this fine actor more and more over time, as I know you have too, Laura.
To fellow readers of your wonderful blog I would recommend searching online for episodes of McNally's 1961 TV series "TARGET: THE CORRUPTORS". Strong stuff!

11:29 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Lovely tribute to a fine actor.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for your comments!

Eowyn, I'm glad you enjoyed what you saw of APACHE DRUMS and hope you can catch it all soon. I also hope you'll enjoy checking out some reviews and tracking down more of his films.

Your theory about villains being good family men sure seems to hold true of people like Dan Duryea and Robert Ryan in addition to Stephen McNally.

Jerry, thank you so much. I need to watch some of that TV series!

Vienna, I'm glad to know you enjoyed it as well.

Best wishes,
Laura

8:52 PM  

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