Today we celebrate one of Hollywood’s most iconic villains: Myron Healey. Healey, who passed away at 82 in 2006, was an actor known for his deep voice and distinctly cunning smile. As one of the most revered villains in the western genre, he became one of the best heavies in westerns.
Born on June 8, 1923, in Petaluma, Calif, as a boy Healey sang on the radio, played the violin and piano, and appeared in school plays. After moving to Hollywood in the 1940s, he studied acting and appeared in musicals for the Armed Forces Victory Committee.
He got a contract with MGM in 1942 but enlisted in the Army Air Forces during World War II. While overseas, he served as a navigator and bombardier. After returning home, he continued to fulfill his duties in the Air Force Reserve until 1962.
As for his acting career, he picked up his first part as a western villain in 1948. He starred opposite Johnny Mack Brown in Hidden Danger. This role would launch Healey as a regular in westerns starring some of the genre’s most well-known faces like Whip Wilson and Jimmy Wakely.
According to Boyd Magers, editor of Western Clippings, Healey “quickly became one of the best, most recognizable and most frequently seen” villains in TV westerns.
On television, he appeared regularly on several western series, including “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok,” “Range Rider,” “Bonanza,” “Maverick,” and “Rawhide.”
In the ’50s, Healey replaced Douglas Fowley in the role of Doc Holliday on “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.”
In addition to westerns, he also had parts in “Perry Mason,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” and other contemporary series.
Myron Healey on Playing the Heavy: ‘It’s Just Plain Interesting’
Yet, Healey was most well known for his roles in Westerns. Healey appeared seven times as Capt. Bandcroft in The Adventures of Kit Carson. He was cast twice in two episodes of the series “Colt .4.” He was also cast seven times in the long-running series “The Lone Ranger.”
He also had a successful career off camera. While appearing in westerns, Healey wrote several screenplays, including the 1951 western Colorado Ambush.
As for playing the villain, Healey once said that he had “much more leeway in playing a heavy.” He added, “it’s just plain interesting, the fact that you’re not a nice guy. I enjoyed that much more than playing a hero.”
In 2000, he received a Golden Boot Award from the Motion Picture & Television Fund for his work in westerns.