Today, June 15th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia remember actor Steve Cochran, who passed away on this day in 1965 at the age of 47.
Cochran came to the Zone with the bad boy tools that had served him best in the movies, playing n'er-do-well Fred Renard, who observes sweet peddler Mr. Pedott (Ernest Truex) in "What You Need." What Fred needs is a winner at the horse races and Pedott helps him out — but, in that time-honored TZ way, he gets a lot more than he bargained for.
Classically handsome leading man Steve Cochran seldom got the sympathetic role. I first spotted him as Virginia Mayo's new boyfriend in The Best Years of Our Lives, already insulting poor Fred Derry (future TZ player Dana Andrews). A few years later, he played Klansman Cliff Scully opposite Ronald Reagan's county prosecutor in the terrific Richard Brooks-written Storm Warning.
Cochran was occasionally thrown a sympathetic role – he played Burt Lancaster's classmate in Jim Thorpe All American and the commander in the very good World War II movie The Tanks Are Coming.
Sadly, Cochran died of a lung infection on a location scout in Mexico. It was much too early.
Let's hoist a frothy beer to a Hollywood tough guy who lent his considerable big-screen menace to a small corner of The Twilight Zone, where what you need isn't always what you want.