Actor Brad Dexter

Brad Dexter (born Boris Michel Soso; April 9, 1917 – December 12, 2002) was an American actor and film producer. He is known for tough-guy and western roles, including the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven (1960), and producing several films for Sidney J. Furie such as Lady Sings the Blues. He is also known for a short marriage to Peggy Lee, a friendship with Marilyn Monroe and for saving Frank Sinatra from drowning. Dexter’s tough-guy roles contrasted with his easygoing and friendly real-life personality.

Life and career

Early life

Dexter was born in Goldfield, Nevada, the second of three children (all boys) born to Marko and Ljubica Šošo (later known as Marko and Violet Soso), who were ethnic Serb immigrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian was Dexter’s first language.

The family soon decamped for Los Angeles, where he attended Belmont High School. Tall, burly and handsome with bright blue eyes, Dexter was usually given supporting roles as a rugged character. After a stint as an amateur boxer, Dexter attended the Pasadena Playhouse, where he studied acting. He had a small role in The Mortal Storm (1940). During World War II, he enlisted for military service with the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he met and befriended Karl Malden, a fellow Serbian-American, and appeared uncredited in the Corps play and film Winged Victory (1944).

As Barry Mitchell

After the war, Dexter had a role in Heldorado (1946), a Roy Rogers western, as “Barry Mitchell”. He was also credited under this name in Sinbad the Sailor (1947). He appeared on Broadway in Magnolia Alley (1949).

As Brad Dexter

He eventually changed his name to Brad Dexter and landed roles in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and Fourteen Hours (1951). Dexter’s breakthrough role was as a villain in RKO’s The Las Vegas Story (1951), starring Victor Mature and Jane Russell. RKO cast him in a similar part in Macao (1952), also with Russell. RKO signed him to a contract.

From January to November 1953, he was married to singer Peggy Lee. The union ended in divorce. She claimed that during their marriage he hardly worked.

Dexter was villainous to John Payne in 99 River Street (1953). He then signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, for whom he made Untamed (1955), Violent Saturday (1955) for director Richard Fleischer, House of Bamboo (1955) for director Samuel Fuller, The Bottom of the Bottle (1956), and Between Heaven and Hell (1956) again with Fleischer.

Dexter was villainous to Joel McCrea in The Oklahoman (1957), produced by Walter Mirisch, and also appeared in Run Silent Run Deep (1958), again as a villain. He largely focused on television, however, appearing in episodes of Climax!, The Gale Storm Show, How to Marry a Millionaire, Pursuit, Studio One in Hollywood, Wagon Train, Bat Masterson, Have Gun – Will Travel, Zane Grey Theatre, Behind Closed Doors, Cimarron City, Yancy Derringer, This Man Dawson, 77 Sunset Strip, Colt 45, The Man from Blackhawk, Tightrope, Mr. Lucky, Bat Masterton, and Wanted: Dead or Alive, starring Steve McQueen. He made the occasional feature film, such as Last Train from Gun Hill (1959), directed by John Sturges, and Vice Raid (1959), and was second billed in 13 Fighting Men (1960).

The Magnificent Seven

Dexter was then cast as a gunslinger in The Magnificent Seven (1960), directed by John Sturges for Walter Mirisch’s production firm The Mirisch Company. Both Sturges and Mirisch had worked with Dexter before. It became his best-known role and most famous film. Characterizing him as a “tough guy at his best in The Magnificent Seven”, Dexter’s obituary in The Guardian singled out his portrayal of Harry Luck and claimed he was “overshadowed” by his contemporaries:

A question that comes up regularly in film trivia quizzes is to name the Magnificent Seven of the 1960 John Sturges western. Easy to start with: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, and Horst Buchholz. But if Brad Dexter… is usually the last to be mentioned, it is mainly because of the fame of the others; actually, he was rather good as the most mercenary of the septet. … the cool and taciturn Harry Luck….

Return to television

The success of The Magnificent Seven did not immediately benefit Dexter’s career: he returned to television, guest starring in The Aquanauts, Hawaiian Eye, General Electric Theatre, Tales of Wells Fargo, Surfside 6, The Investigators, and Alcoa Premiere. He could be seen in It Started in Tokyo (1961), The George Raft Story (1961) (playing Bugsy Siegel), X-15 (1962) with Charles Bronson and Johnny Cool (1963). Dexter supported Yul Brynner again in Taras Bulba (1962), Kings of the Sun (1963) (from the producers of Magnificent Seven), and Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964).

In 1963, Dexter was cast as California Supreme Court Justice David S. Terry in “A Gun Is Not a Gentleman” on the syndicated anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. Carroll O’Connor portrayed U.S. Senator David C. Broderick of California, who mortally wounded Justice Terry in an 1859 duel. Though past allies in the Democratic Party, Terry, a slavery advocate, challenged the anti-slavery Broderick.[citation needed]

Frank Sinatra

Dexter’s friendship with Frank Sinatra began when Dexter saved Sinatra from drowning on May 10, 1964, during production of the World War II film None but the Brave (1965) on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Sinatra and Ruth Koch, the wife of producer Howard Koch, were swimming when they were swept out to sea by the outgoing tide and nearly drowned. Sinatra’s co-star Dexter and two surfers swam out and rescued them. Dexter was later awarded a Red Cross medal for his bravery. Grateful, Sinatra made him vice president of Sinatra Enterprises.

After Dexter appeared in Bus Riley’s Back in Town (1965), he made another film with Sinatra, Von Ryan’s Express (1965). That year, Dexter complained that acting made him “frustrated as hell. As an actor you don’t have control over the medium you’re in… you have no control over your destiny.”

Dexter produced The Naked Runner (1967), which starred Sinatra and was filmed in London. Dexter and director Sidney J. Furie clashed with Sinatra over the latter’s unwillingness to finish the film, and, after it was completed, Dexter resigned. “I was the only guy who dropped Sinatra … I couldn’t put up with his nonsense”, Dexter said at the time. Publicly, Dexter denied any falling out with Sinatra. He claimed to have left Sinatra’s company to make a film with Furie based on the Sam Sheppard case.

The project eventually became The Lawyer (1970) starring Barry Newman as Petrocelli. He produced two more films for Furie: Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970) starring Robert Redford, and Lady Sings the Blues (1972) starring Diana Ross as Billie Holiday.

Later career

Dexter returned to acting with roles in Jory (1973), Shampoo (1975), Vigilante Force (1976), The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), House Calls (1978) and Winter Kills (1979), and guest parts on McCloud, Kojak, S.W.A.T., Project U.F.O., and The Incredible Hulk. Dexter produced the TV series Skag (1980) starring Karl Malden. His last role was in Cognac (1988).


He was married to Star-Kist tuna heiress Mary Bogdanovich from January 27, 1971, until her death on June 12, 1994. Later in 1994, he married June Deyer and remained with her until his death.[citation needed]


Dexter died in Rancho Mirage, California, from emphysema, on December 11, 2002, at age 85, and is interred at Desert Memorial Park.


  • Winged Victory (1944) as Jack Browning (uncredited)
  • Heldorado (1946) as Alec Baxter
  • Sinbad the Sailor (1947) as Muallin
  • The Asphalt Jungle (1950) as Bob Brannom
  • Fourteen Hours (1951) as Reporter (uncredited)
  • The Las Vegas Story (1952) as Tom Hubler
  • Macao (1952) as Vincent Halloran
  • 99 River Street (1953) as Victor Rawlins
  • Untamed (1955) as Lt. Christian
  • Violent Saturday (1955) as Gil Clayton
  • House of Bamboo (1955) as Captain Hanson
  • The Bottom of the Bottle (1956) as Stanley Miller
  • Between Heaven and Hell (1956) as Lt. Joe ‘Little Joe’ Johnson
  • The Oklahoman (1957) as Cass Dobie
  • Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) as Ens. Gerald Cartwright
  • Last Train from Gun Hill (1959) as Beero
  • Vice Raid (1960) as Vince Malone
  • 13 Fighting Men (1960) as Maj. Simon Boyd
  • The Magnificent Seven (1960) as Harry Luck
  • Twenty Plus Two (1961) as Leroy Dane
  • The George Raft Story (1961) as Benny ‘Bugsy’ Siegal
  • X-15 (1961) as Maj. Anthony Rinaldi
  • Taras Bulba (1962) as Shilo
  • Johnny Cool (1963) as Lennart Crandall
  • Kings of the Sun (1963) as Ah Haleb
  • Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) as Kenarsie
  • None but the Brave (1965) as Sgt. Bleeker
  • Bus Riley’s Back in Town (1965) as Slocum
  • Von Ryan’s Express (1965) as Sgt. Bostick
  • Blindfold (1966) as Detective Harrigan
  • Jory (1973) as Jack
  • Shampoo (1975) as Senator East
  • Vigilante Force (1976) as Mayor Bradford
  • The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977) as Alvin Karpis
  • House Calls (1978) as Quinn
  • Winter Kills (1979) as Captain Heller One
  • Tajna manastirske rakije (1988) as Veljko Pantovich (final film role)
  • External Links

    Actor Brad Dexter – Wikipedia

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