Gene Evans was born in Holbrook, Arizona, on July 11, 1922, and was raised in Colton, California. He served in the Army during World War II as a combat engineer, and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for bravery in action. He began his acting career there, performing in a theatrical troupe of GIs in Europe. After the war, he went to Hollywood, where he made his film debut in 1947’s Under Colorado Skies (1947). The rugged, red-headed character actor was a familiar face in such westerns as Cattle Queen of Montana (1954), The War Wagon (1967), Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973). He also starred in the war films The Steel Helmet (1951) and Fixed Bayonets! (1951) and co-starred with future first lady Nancy Reagan (before she became Nancy Reagan) in Donovan’s Brain (1953). His other major films include Park Row (1952), Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959), Operation Petticoat (1959) and Walking Tall (1973). He became well known in the 1950s on television, playing the father in My Friend Flicka (1955). He remained active in films and television through the 1980s. Evans subsequently retired to a farm near Jackson, Tennessee. He was a popular guest at the Memphis Film Festival for the past decade.