I’ve written before about singing cowboys, including one piece that compared Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. I’ve also profiled Rex Allen and a few others, but there was another guy who was not just a singing cowboy but also a respected band vocalist, a Broadway star, and a character actor with a long career in movies.
John Nicholas ‘Dick’ Foran was the son of a New Jersey senator (and later the brother of another), but he took an entirely different career track. He’d studied music and had a good singing voice, and by the early 1930s he was singing on radio and even leading his own band for a while. The tall, good-looking redhead then decided to try his luck in Hollywood. After some supporting roles in ‘B’ Westerns he began starring in a few of his own, where he was also able to showcase his singing talent.
He would continue to sing in many movies through the years, even after he’d moved on from his early days as a ‘B’ movie star. For example, he introduced a song that would become a jazz standard – “I’ll Remember April” – in a 1942 Abbott & Costello film called Ride ‘Em Cowboy. He also branched out from Westerns into other types of movies, and starred on Broadway in A Connecticut Yankee.
Foran was always a busy actor, appearing in countless movies and effortlessly making the transition to TV as that medium grew. He eventually even appeared in numerous TV commercials in his later years. When he died in 1979, he was survived by a third wife and his seven children.