Birth Date: January 14, 1926
Birth Place: Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Also Credited as: Thomas Tryon
Date of Death: September 4, 1991 / Age: 65
Location of Death: Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of Death: stomach cancer
Biography: Tom Tryon (January 14, 1926 - September 4, 1991) was an American film and television actor, as well as author of several science fiction, horror, and mystery novels. He was born Thomas Tryon in Hartford, Connecticut. He is usually credited and listed as an author under his birth name. He was the son of silent screen actor Glen Tryon.
Tryon's film roles were mostly in B-horror and science fiction films, most notably I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958) and Moon Pilot (1962), and in westerns, especially Three Violent People (1956), with Charlton Heston, and Winchester '73 (1967). His best role, however, is considered by many to have been in the 1965 film, In Harm's Way, which is itself considered one of the best films set in the period of World War II.
In 1962, Tom Tryon was cast to play the role of Stephen Burkett ("Adam") in the unfinished Marilyn Monroe comedy film, Something's Got to Give, directed by George Cukor, but lost that role after Monroe was fired from the movie. The part went to Chuck Connors when the film was finally completed as Move Over Darling with Doris Day. (Completed footage from the original version has recently been released on video and DVD.) He was also considered but eventually passed over for the role of Janet Leigh's lover, Sam Loomis, in the classic thriller, Psycho. Television roles included the Texas John Slaughter series which ran on The Wonderful World of Disney in the 1950s, guest appearances on The Virginian and The Big Valley, and a live television performance of The Fall of the House of Usher. He also co-wrote a song, "I Wish I Was," which appeared on an obscure record by Dick Kallman, star of the short-lived and now largely forgotten 1965 television sitcom, Hank.
Tryon was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1963 for his role in The Cardinal, but the honor barely compensated for the trauma and abuse he suffered at the hands of director Otto Preminger. At one point during filming, Preminger actually fired Tryon in front of his parents when they visited the set, then rehired him after being satisfied that Tryon had been sufficiently humiliated.
Disillusioned with acting, Tryon retired from the profession in 1969 and began writing science-fiction, horror, and mystery novels. His most well-known work is The Other (1971), about a boy whose evil (and dead) twin brother may or may not be responsible for a series of deaths in a small rural community in the 1930s. The novel was adapted as a film the following year, starring Diana Muldaur, Uta Hagen, and John Ritter. Harvest Home, about the dark pagan rituals being practiced in a small New England town, was adapted as The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, a television mini-series starring Bette Davis, in 1978.
His other novels include Crowned Heads, a collection of novellas inspired by the legends of Hollywood. The first of these novellas, Fedora, about a reclusive former film actress whose relationship with her plastic surgeon is similar to that between a drug addict and her pusher, was later filmed by Billy Wilder. Though the film was only moderately successful, it is consiered by many to be a minor classic of the thriller and horror genres. Another novella in the collection was based on the murder of former silent screen star Ramon Navarro. Lady, written in 1975, concerns the friendship between an eight-year-old and a charming widow in 1930s New England and the secrect he discovers about her. Many consider this to be Tryon's best work. His 1989 novel Night of the Moonbow tells the story of a boy driven to violent means by the constant harassment he receives at a summer boys camp. Night Magic, written in 1991 and posthumously published in 1995, is currenlty slated for a screen adaptation.
During the 1970s, Tryon was in a gay romantic relationship with Clive Clerk, one of the original cast members of A Chorus Line and an interior designer who decorated Tryon's Central Park West apartment, which was featured in Architectural Digest. Tryon was also involved with Cal Culver, better known as gay porn star Casey Donovan, while still maintaining his relationship with Clerk. Cal is credited with helping Tryon finish Crowned Heads on an extremely tight deadline by typing up the revisions and offering suggestions. Their relationship was short-lived, for while Tryon had no per se problems with Cal's porn career, the attention and publicity his lover received made the closeted Tryon fearful of being outted, which he felt could destroy his career as a popular writer. Tryon and Culver parted ways in the summer of 1977.
Thomas Tryon continuing writing through the 1980s and 1990s, before dying at age 65 on September 4, 1991 from a metastasized stomach cancer which had originated in his spine.