Dan Duryea: Tough Guy of the Silver Screen
Written and Posted by Sarah
In May 2016, after receiving a nasty letter from an attorney presenting himself as the legal representative of Dan Duryea's disgruntled younger son, Richard Duryea, we took this website down. In light of the many requests that we've had from Dan's disappointed fans, we've decided to try one more time to share our research with the online world. We are neither connected with the family nor benefiting financially from this website. We offer these pages to you as a tribute to one of our favorite classic film stars. We believe that Dan would have been pleased with our efforts and disappointed with this trouble. Whitey Kincaid would have laughed at us all . . .
Dan Duryea was Hollywood's greatest "heel" on the Silver Screen. He never won an Oscar or put his footprints into the legendary cement at Graumann's Chinese Theater, though he was awarded one star for Television on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Today, most people probably don't even know his name. Despite this lack of recognition, Dan Duryea's acting abilities and innate talent rival that of any of his dramatic-actor contemporaries.
Dan Duryea's celluloid image was one of a heel and villain with a nasal-toned voice and a maniacal laugh, but his real-life personality was the exact opposite. He was a devoted husband and father who found enjoyment from such wholesome activities as gardening, painting and taking care of his one-acre estate. He wanted to play more light comedy parts (even as light-hearted villains, such as "Whitey Kinkade" in the 1954 western, Ride Clear of Diablo), but the public wouldn't go for that.
In order to combat his on-screen image, Dan set out to show the community that he wasn't really a bad guy. He was active in the PTA and a leader of his sons' Cub Scout / Boy Scout troop. He owned a twenty-unit apartment building and did all the maintenance work himself. He built a clubhouse for his sons and, later on, a sailboat. He said that he didn't want his sons to remember him as "as the guy who took pot shots at Gary Cooper". He would not even allow them to see his films, because he said that he didn't want them "to get the wrong idea" about their dad.
So, we're going to remember the nicer side of Mr. Duryea. Sure, he's a great actor in all those film noir shows and the like, but everybody remembers him for roles like Scarlet Street and Criss Cross. His role in Chicago Calling, though heart-breaking, is a testimony to his dramatic abilities if you don't mind shedding a tear or two. What about his fabulous part as big-city crime reporter, Mike Reese? Or his nice, sympathetic role in a Wagon Train show called "The Cliff Grundy Story"? But, if you want to see my very favorite, check out Dan Duryea as the notorious-but-likeable gunslinger, Whitey Kinkade, in Ride Clear of Diablo.