Willard Parker (Worster Van Eps)
Photos with Willard Parker
BiographyNew York City, New York, USA
As New York-born Worster Von Eps, he was a meter reader who turned professional tennis player but, in 1937, at the age of 25, he parlayed his fair-haired good looks and obvious athleticism into an acting career and changed his name to an easier-sounding marquee moniker, Willard Parker. After a number of uncredited film roles and a couple of appearances on the Broadway stage with "Johnny Belinda" (1940) and "Lady in the Dark" (1943), he was signed by Columbia in the 1940s and moved into "B" movie leads and co-leads. Read more... adventure category, went by unnoticed, including the swashbuckling film The Fighting Guardsman (1946), and the western actioneers Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949), Apache Drums (1951), The Great Jesse James Raid (1953), Lone Texan (1959) and his "Cole Younger" in Young Jesse James (1960). He also had a secondary non-singing role in his best-known movie, playing a bombastic Texan vying for the affections of Kathryn Grayson in the musical Kiss Me Kate (1953). In the 1950s, Willard developed a semi-strong following partnered with Harry Lauter in the TV action show, Tales of the Texas Rangers (1955) (1955-1959). He eventually retired to sell real estate. Married twice, his second wife was beautiful blonde actress Virginia Field, who appeared with him in the British sci-fi flick, The Earth Dies Screaming (1964). They had no children together, but Willard did have a son by his previous marriage to former stage actress Marion Pierce. In 1974, he suffered a stroke. He died of heart failure in his 80s.