Tom Tryon

Tom Tryon


1/14/1926, Hartford, Connecticut, USA



Birth Name

Thomas Tryon


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Ivy League-educated Tryon had some success on stage, on the small screen and in films, but he is probably better known for his career as a writer and novelist. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his lead role in Otto Preminger's 'The Cardinal,' and he went…more


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  • Tom Tryon was an actor who never realized his potential until he gave up acting.

    Born in New England and educated in the Ivy League, Tom Tryon was an unlikely matinee idol. After doing his duty in the U.S. Navy in World War II, Tryon's startling good looks and training in theater and the arts pointed him toward the stage, where he started acting. During the 50s he was often seen in television plays on series like Matinee Fireside Theatre and Playhouse 90.

    Science fiction fans remember him as Bill in 'I Married a Monster from Outer Space,' a movie far better than the title implies. Later he had notable roles in films like 'The Story of Ruth,' 'In Harm's Way,' and a star turn in the movie that won him a Golden Globe nomination, 'The Cardinal.' It was his reportedly traumatic relationship with autocratic director Otto Preminger that supposedly contributed to his ultimate disillusionment with Hollywood, a world he chronicled later in his novels 'Crowned Heads' and 'All That Glitters.' 'The Cardinal' should have made Tom Tryon a huge star. But the tastes of the public are quixotic, and for whatever reason--maybe the fact he was no spring chicken by the time he made this movie--Tryon didn't become a household name. By the second half of the 60s, Tryon was relegated to guest star roles on episodic TV. While it was during this time he played the role that captured my own fancy--Scott Breckenridge on 'The Big Valley'--his acting career had clearly leveled off. By 1969 he left the business altogether to begin his second career as a novelist.

    Exit Tom Tryon, actor, enter Thomas Tryon, author. Now the man became more than a pretty face, at least for me. He actually had a brain and a way with words! His prose-y novels proved that Yale pedigree at last, and he certainly looked damn good on the dust jacket.

    Years later I found myself even more fascinated with Tryon, curious about what kept him so firmly entrenched in that celluloid closet when other actors were finally openly coming out. His relationships with other men, especially the gorgeous Clive Clerk and porno star Casey Donovan, are more than mere rumors. And it's almost certain Tryon himself died of complications from AIDs. We could wish Tryon had penned an autobiography during the decades he made his living as a writer. But since he didn't, we'll have to recognize him as a competent actor and talented writer who played his most effective role in real life, pretending to be something he wasn't. This is what makes his life such a mystery and ultimately, a tragedy.moreless