We’ve written here about actors who’ve changed their names once arriving in Hollywood before, but I’m not sure we’ve covered a name quite as spectacular as Orison Whipple Hungerford, Jr. Well, here we are.
Better known by his stage name of Ty Hardin, the now 85-year-old Mr. Hungerford amassed a lengthy resume working in TV and film from the late 50s all the way to the 90s. In between films, he found time to marry a respectable eight times, most recently in 2007, and had seven children (so far).
Fun fact, his (fantastic) middle name of Whipple comes from his great-grandfather William Whipple, one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Orison grew up in Houston, Texas, and was reportedly extremely hyperactive. His grandmother gave him the nickname Ty, because he was “as active as a Texan typhoon”. On the same note, my grandmother nicknamed me Tusk as a child, because I was quieter than a Tuskaloosa Sunday.
In college, Orison played football under scary sounding coach Bear Bryant. He was eventually able to dig himself out from under him and promptly made his way to California. Following a standard American career progression, he first worked as an electrical engineer in Santa Monica before becoming an actor in films such as I Married a Monster From Outer Space and The Space Children.
He was known at this stage as Ty Hungerford, before his agent Henry Willson had him change it to Ty Hardin. Willson, coincidentally also came up with the movie star names of Rock Hudson, Dack Rambo, and Tab Hunter. You could say he had a knack for awesome names.
Soon, Hardin was spotted on set by John Wayne who recommended him to Warner Brothers. His big break came in the WB western TV show Cheyenne after he replaced the star Clint Walker, who had walked off the show mid-season. Viewers loved Hardin so much the network gave him his own show the next year, the hit Bronco.
At the end of his TV contract he left to travel the world and work all over, as Bronco was a worldwide hit and made him in demand everywhere. He appeared in films in Italy, Britain and eventually Australia, and had to turn down the lead in the 1960’s Batman series due to an overseas film commitment. So we missed out on Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr.”POW”ing Burgess Meredith.