Family Business: Actors with a Classic Film Star Parent

SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER 2 I recently watched Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, which co-starred the adult children of John Wayne and Tyrone Power. So, I thought it’d be fun to write about actors that were the children of classic film stars. The challenge with this kind of post is narrowing the topic to a manageable size. You could write a book on it (and there probably is one). Also, many movie star children became famous in their own right (e.g., Michael Douglas, Lon Chaney, Jr., Carrie Fisher, the Barrymores, the Carradines, etc.). For this post, I just want to focus on a handful of lesser-known–but still interesting–classic film star offspring.

James Mitchum – Robert and Dorothy Mitchum’s oldest son made his first credited appearance in his father’s moonshine drive-in classic Thunder Road (1958). He played his father’s younger brother! He carved out a niche as a supporting player, sometimes playing unsavory characters (he’s the de facto villain in 1964′s Ride the Wild Surf, one of my favorite sand-and-surf pictures). His only “A” picture was the all-star In Harm’s Way (1965).

MITCHUM, CHRISChristopher Mitchum – The second son of Robert and Dorothy Mitchum appeared in over 60 films from the 1970s through the ‘90s, including three John Wayne Westerns: ChisumRio Lobo, and Big Jake. He served on the Board of Directors for the Screen Actors Guild in the 1980s. A political conservative, Chris ran for a Congressional seat in 2012 and plans to run again later this year. He and his wife Cindy have been married since 1964 and have four children.

Sean Flynn — Errol Flynn’s son with Lili Damita made his acting debut at age 15 opposite his father and stepmother Patrice Wymore in an episode of The Errol Flynn Theatre. His first film was 1960′s Where the Boys Are, though he was uncredited and you’ll miss him if you blink. He spent the rest of the decade starring in European films, the most famous being The Son of Captain Blood (1962). Sean left acting in 1966 and became a respected photojournalist. He was under contract to Time Magazine when he disappeared in Cambodia in 1970. It’s now believed that he and fellow photojournalist Dana Stone were captured by guerrillas and later killed. Sean Flynn was declared legally dead by his mother in 1984.

POWER, TARYNTaryn Power — The daughter of Tyrone Power and Linda Christian was born in 1953 and was only five when her father died of a heart attack. She appeared in just eight movies, with the most notable ones being The Count of Monte Cristo (1975) with Richard Chamberlain and the Ray Harryhausen fantasy Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), the latter also starring Patrick Wayne, son of John Wayne. Her last role came in Henry Jaglom’s indie film Eating (1990).

MCCREA, JODYJody McCrea — Best known as a regular in the Beach Party films, Joel Dee McCrea’s parents were Joel McCrea and Frances Dee. After a stint in the Army, he had small parts in several 1950s films and co-starred with his father in the short-lived TV Western Wichita Town. He appeared in six of the seven Beach Party movies playing the same dull-witted character who was known as Deadhead (Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Muscle Beach Party), Bonehead (Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini), or Big Lunk (Pajama Party). He even recorded a novelty song in support of Bikini Beach. Jody retired from acting in 1970 and became a rancher. He died in 2009 at the age of 74.

WAYNE, PATRICKPatrick Wayne — Born Patrick John Morrison in 1939, the Duke’s son appeared in nine movies with his father and had significant roles in McLintock!, The Green Berets, and Big Jake. He performed admirably as the dashing lead in two modest 1977 fantasy films: Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and The People That Time Forgot. Alas, major stardom eluded him, though he continued to appear regularly in films and on television throughout the ‘80s.

Mary Crosby as Kristin Shepard Sue-Ellen sister from 1979-1981 iMary Crosby — The daughter of Bing Crosby and Kathryn Grant is best known for playing Sue Ellen’s sister, Kristin Shepard, on the TV series Dallas. The devious Kristin secured her place in the annals of small-screen history when it was revealed that she shot J.R. in one of the highest-rated TV episodes of all time. Mary Crosby has appeared in numerous TV series and miniseries. She had little success on the big screen, though she made a spunky heroine in the 1984 space action-fantasy The Ice Pirates. It’s interesting to note that Mary’s mother was the female lead in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), which sorta connects Mary to Patrick Wayne and Taryn Power.

Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café , on Facebook and TwitterHe’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!

  • Steve Oelrich

    Elizabeth Montgomery, James MacArthur, many of Clint Eastwood’s kids, Miguel Ferrer, Colin Hanks, etc. etc.

  • Tinkrbl3

    How about Gwyneth Paltrow. Blythe Danner’s daughter, but maybe not a great fit here cuz she’s not exactly ‘lesser known’.

  • bornagain710

    Michael Douglas

  • bornagain710

    Nancy Sinatra,

  • John M

    Jane Mansfield’s daughter, the very talented and beautiful, Mariska Hargitay has starred in the “Law & Order” TV series for several years.

    • Mindy Newell

      Amen!!!!!

  • dave

    john, thank you for that information! didn’t know that, she is a very good actress.

  • edro3111

    Nice to make connections that we never imagined. Thanks for the info. Hope you’ll expand to more stars later!

  • ILMer

    John Clark Gable, Ronald Howard

  • Butch Knouse

    Chris Mitchum’s best role was an early 70s movie The Moonrunners that was later bastardized into The Dukes of Hazzard.

  • jumbybird

    Mary Crosby was so sexy!

  • Richy

    Stephanie Zimbalist (daughter of Efrem). I miss her