Richard Davalos, East of Eden actor, dies at 85

The American actor Richard Davalos, who played James Dean’s brother (Aron) in East of Eden (1955), has died. No-one would ever forget his performance as the half-crazed fiance (of Julie Harris) watching his love slipping away in the direction of Dean. Although his role in the Kazan film was memorable, I had erroneously believed that he hadn’t done much else. It’s true that his CV was dominated by a range of guest appearances on TV but I recall diligently watching, as a young teenager, a television Davalos and othersseries called The Blue and the Grey in Australia which was released as The Americans in the US, dealing with the American Civil War. Its premise was dramatically promising, pitting brother against brother, but the producers pulled the plug on it after 11 or 12 episodes. My disappointment was strong. As it turns out Davalos performed very creditably in several films in supporting roles, including Stuart Heisler’s interesting remake of Raoul Walsh’s dynamic High Sierra (1941), I Died a Thousand Times (1955), with Jack Palance reprising the earlier Humphrey Bogart role. Davalos appeared in another interesting remake, updating the silent classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, this time around leaving the “Dr” out of the title. It was an absorbing remake, nevertheless, directed by little known Roger Kay and starring Daniel O’Herlihy and Glynis Johns. Davalos had a small but effective role as Blind Dick in Stuart Rosenberg’s terrific prison film Cool Hand Luke (1967) starring Paul Newman. One of his last featured roles was in Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), a Disney production directed by Jack Clayton and told from a boy’s point of view. RIP.

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