Into the Wild Frontier
Ultimate Cowboy Showdown
Bonanza, The Lost Episodes
How the West Was Won
The Big Valley
The Young Riders
Wild West Chronicles
Specials & Events:
Specials & Events
Gun the Man Down
The Lone Hand
Gunsmoke: The Last Apache
Events & Specials:
Saddle Up Weekends
How Tall Was James Arness?
Quizzes & Trivia
The Joel McCrea Story
“I always felt so much more comfortable in the Western. The minute I got a horse and a hat and a pair of boots on, I felt easier. I didn’t feel like I was an actor anymore. I felt like I was the guy out there doing it.” – Joel McCrea
With a career spanning five decades, McCrea goes down in history as one of the most accomplished Western genre actors. He deliberately chose relatable roles, playing fair, humble, and reserved characters — who honored traditional values and had a strong moral compass, much like his real-life persona.
A SUNNY UPBRINGING
In the fall of 1905, Joel McCrea entered this world destined for Hollywood. Growing up in South Pasadena, California, McCrea watched the magic of movies come alive in his childhood backyard. Enamored by the bright lights and excitement of show biz, it wasn’t long until he set his sights on acting. While he was a student at the Hollywood High School, McCrea landed a part- time gig as a stunt double, and the rest, as they say, is history.
RISE INTO THE SPOTLIGHT
McCrea continued to pursue acting as he attended Pomona College, working
as an extra in addition to stunt work. Finally, in 1929, MGM cast him in
The Jazz Age
for his first significant role shortly after the studio signed him.
The following year, McCrea moved to RKO studios and got his big break starring
as a lead in
The Silver Horde
. Due to the film’s success, his striking good looks, and stature, McCrea quickly became a favorite for roles in romantic comedies.
Fortunately, he was able to avoid being typecast and crossed over into different genres. From playful comedy (1937’s
) and action-packed Westerns (1937’s
) to suspenseful crime dramas (1937’s
) and satisfying thrillers (Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940’s
), he’s done it all. But ultimately, McCrea decided to stick with the genre that his heart was in, Westerns.
THE WESTERN ROUTE
“I liked doing comedies, but as I got older I was better suited to do Westerns. Because I think it becomes unattractive for an older fellow trying to look young, falling in love with attractive girls in those kinds of situations.” – Joel McCrea
By 1946, an older, more distinguished version of McCrea made a bold decision that would alter the rest of his career. Incredibly self-aware, McCrea knew that his days in romantic dramas and comedies were behind him and better left for the younger faces hitting Hollywood. He leaned into this new chapter of his life, but steered it in a direction that truly felt like home. Excluding 1953’s thriller,
, and 1951’s
, where he played himself, McCrea starred in strictly Westerns. Quickly, he became a household name in the genre, starring in timeless classics like 1953’s
The Lone Hand
, and 1962’s
Ride the High Country
A LASTING IMPRESSION
On and Off the screen, McCrea lived by the cowboy code. He married actress Frances Dee in 1933, and the couple went on to have three sons. An outdoorsman by nature, McCrea purchased a ranch that grew to become a 3,000-acre venture over time. In fact, McCrea referred to himself as a rancher by trade and an actor by hobby.
At the age of eighty-four, the actor succumbed to pulmonary complications and passed away in the fall of 1990. With more than thirty years passed since his death, McCrea is still inspiring
viewers of all ages, and the legacy he left will live on for many, many lifetimes.
Like What You See? Sign Up for Our Newsletter Below!
First Name Required:
Enter More than two characters.
Last Name Required:
Enter More than two characters.
Enter another email.
Invalid Zip Code:
Enter another zip code.
Please Enter Your Zipcode
How did you hear about us?
California Xfinity Store Event
Family/ Friend/ Hero
INSP Info Card
Texas Xfinity Store Event
Yes, I want to receive text messages!
Invalid Phone Number:
Phone must be a ten digit number and not start with a 1.
Msg&data rates may apply. Recurring automated marketing txt msg will be sent to telephone number provided at opt-in. You may unsubscribe from receiving INSP txts by texting STOP to 694677. For help or information, text HELP to 694677. Your consent to receive txts is not required for any purchase. Visit
for full terms and conditions. Visit