Ralph Taeger (Ralph Adolph Taeger)
BiographyQueens, New York, USA
The name may not be familiar but for one brief shining moment in the 1960s, this handsome, firm-jawed, sober-looking actor had his "15 minutes--plus" on TV and film. Ralph Taeger was born of German-speaking parents on July 30, 1936 in Richmond Hill, New York. Very shy as a youngster, he took public speaking to try and overcome his social handicap. He went so far as to pursue acting roles in college plays and in summer stock. An aspiring pro baseball player, he stayed for a time on a Dodger farm team but knee injuries forced him to rethink his future plans. Read more... enrolled instead at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, attending classes and finding work as a male model on the sly. He migrated to the West Coast where a stage performance at the Beverly Hills Playhouse caught the eye of an MGM talent scout. Signed briefly, he made a couple of bit appearances in films before he was let go. He then freelanced on TV and found it a more accepting medium. Seeing his potential as a strong but silent, clean-cut, adventurous type, he gravitated toward crime and western series including "Highway Patrol," "Manhunt", "Tombstone Territory" and "Sea Hunt." His first series lead was as rugged Mike Halliday in Klondike (1960), an action show that took place during the Alaskan gold rush of 1897. It co-starred James Coburn and barely lasted half the season. He and Coburn seemed to have some chemistry, however, so they simply changed the locale, updated the time to present-day Mexico and called their new adventure series Acapulco (1961). This time he played studly Patrick Malone, a former Korean War vet-turned-beachcomber assigned to protect a criminal lawyer from rampant gangsters. This show did even worse and died after only two months on the air. Taeger earned a last chance at TV stardom with the title role in Hondo (1967), which was based on the 1953 John Wayne western. As cavalry scout Hondo Lane, Taeger experienced a more interesting character, a lonely, embittered man whose Indian bride was slain during an army massacre. Though he and it showed definite potential, it didn't arouse enough of an audience and dissolved after only three months. Despite a lead role in the feature film X-15 (1961) co-starring Mary Tyler Moore and support parts in Stage to Thunder Rock (1964), A House Is Not a Home (1964) and the glossy George Peppard/Carroll Baker starrer The Carpetbaggers (1964), he was pretty much finished in Hollywood. It didn't help that he had also gained a reputation for being difficult on the set. Married and with one son, Taeger went on to sell cars and work for a time as a tennis pro. In later years he earned a living as a wholesaler of firewood in Northern California, appearing in local theater productions every now and then.