by Mike Barnes
Ralph Taeger, a rugged 1960s TV actor who starred alongside James Coburn in two adventure shows and played Hondo Lane in a series based on the John Wayne film, has died. He was 78.
Taeger died March 11 after a long illness at Marshall Medical Center in Placerville, Calif., where he owned a firewood business, his family announced.
Taeger played Mike Halliday alongside Coburn in NBC's Klondike, which was set during the Alaskan gold rush of the 1890s and debuted in October 1960. When the series ended after 18 episodes in February 1961, the two transitioned to another NBC show that same month, playing Korean War veterans turned beachcombers in Acapulco. (That one was gone after just eight installments.)
More than a decade after Wayne starred as a cavalry officer who helps a young mother fend off Apaches in the popular Warner Bros. Western Hondo (1953), Taeger reprised the role for an ABC series. Bowing in September 1967, it was canceled after 18 episodes.
In The Twilight Zone episode “From Agnes — With Love,” which aired on Valentine’s Day 1964, the hunky Taeger gets the girl that another computer technician (Wally Cox) had been trying to date. (The computer had given Cox's nebbishy character some bad advice.)
The episode was directed by Richard Donner, who earlier had cast Taeger as a test pilot in X-15 (1961).
Taeger also starred in such films as Stage to Thunder Rock (1964), A House Is Not a Home (1964), The Carpetbaggers (1964) and The Delta Factor (1970), and he appeared in the TV series Highway Patrol, Bat Masterson, Sea Hunt, The Six Million Dollar Man and Father Murphy.
Born in New York City as the son of German immigrants, Taeger played minor-league baseball for the Dodgers before a leg injury ended his hopes for an athletic career.
Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Linda, and son Richard.