Arlington Rand Brooks Jr. (September 21, 1918 – September 1, 2003) was an American film and television actor.
Brooks was born in Wright City, Missouri. He was the son of Arlington Rand Brooks, a farmer.[a] His mother and he moved to Los Angeles when he was four, though he continued to spend summers in Wright City. Brooks continued to make visits to his hometown of Wright City into the 1950s, up to and following the death of his father in 1950.
His mother and his grandfather were actors.
After leaving school, Brooks got a screen test at MGM and was given a bit part in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938). His big fame came with his part as Charles Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939), a role which he later admitted he despised; he wanted to play more macho parts. He made $100 per week under contract at MGM, but when he was on loan to Selznick International Pictures for Gone with the Wind, he made $500 per week.
After Gone With the Wind, he had relatively small parts in other movies including Babes in Arms, then a regular role as Lucky in the Hopalong Cassidy series of Westerns in the mid-1940s; Brooks succeeded Russell Hayden in the role. Among the films, which starred William Boyd as Hopalong, were Hoppy’s Holiday, The Dead Don’t Dream, and Borrowed Trouble. He received positive notice for his work in Fool’s Gold, with Variety reporting that he did “an excellent job.” In edited, half-hour versions of some of the films, he appeared in 12 of the 52 episodes of the Hopalong Cassidy television series.
Brooks served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, eventually reaching the rank of sergeant. He trained at Buckley Field in Colorado, in March 1943 and was stationed in Springfield, Missouri, as of May 1943. Brooks was for a time at San Antonio Air Field. He trained for flying, but did some theatre work under General Arnold. He was ill for a time during his service and in 1944 worked in recruitment in Louisiana.
Post-military film and television work
In 1948, he co-starred with Adele Jergens and Marilyn Monroe in the low-budget, black-and-white Columbia Pictures film, Ladies of the Chorus. Brooks became the first actor to share an on-screen kiss with Monroe, who in a few years was one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Filmed in just 10 days, the film was released soon after its completion.
Variety called his performance in the 1952 film The Steel Fist “capable.”
Television brought new opportunities, again often in Westerns. He played Cpl. Randy Boone in the 1950s television series, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.
Brooks had guest roles in 1950s Western series, including Mackenzie’s Raiders, The Lone Ranger, Maverick, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. He appeared twice on the syndicated adventure series, Rescue 8, as well as on CBS’s Perry Mason courtroom drama series.
In 1962, he directed and produced a movie about brave dogs, Bearheart, but the film was entangled in legal troubles due to his business manager’s involvement in crimes such as forgery and graft. The film was finally released in 1978, under the title Legend of the Northwest.
Brooks was one of the favorite leading men of Jane Withers.
After he left show business, Brooks ran a private ambulance company in Glendale, California. He commented that he “died in more pictures than almost anyone” and that though he was never very big in show business, he was willing to return to it. Brooks sold the ambulance company in 1994, and retired to his ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, where he bred champion Andalusian horses. He attended a Gone with the Wind reunion for Clark Gable’s birthday, along with Ann Rutherford and Fred Crane, in Cadiz, Ohio, in 1992.
Variety reported that Brooks married Clover Barrick on April 18, 1945.
He married Lois Laurel (d. 2017), daughter of Stan Laurel, in 1949. Their son Arlington Rand Brooks III was born in September 1949. Their daughter Laurel was born in August 1950 in Santa Monica, California.
On September 1, 2003, Brooks died in Santa Ynez, California.