20th Century-Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck signed him to a contract and changed his name to Jeffrey Hunter (1 June 1950).
Although in studio publicity Hunter claimed to be a descendant of Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States, he was not a direct descendant, although he may have been a collateral descendant, through his father's maternal grandmother, from the Taylors of Virginia.
Cast as Christopher Pike, captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, in the original "Star Trek" pilot in 1964. However, when an undecided NBC requested a second pilot in early 1965, Hunter declined, having decided to concentrate on his movie career instead. Producer Gene Roddenberry, after hearing the news, wrote to Hunter, "I am told you have decided not to go ahead with Star Trek. This has to be your own decision, of course, and I must respect it," and then asked Hunter if he would come back for "one day or two of shooting an additional action opening which can result in a fast, tightly cut, exciting film release." But Hunter, who had a six-month exclusive contract for the series lead, declined that request too. Footage from the first pilot was later incorporated into a two-part episode in Star Trek's first season. (Roddenberry later tried to give the impression that it was he who decided not to rehire Hunter for the second pilot. But as executive producer Herbert F. Solow pointed out, major casting decisions for the series were made by Desilu and NBC executives, not the producer.)
During his marriage to Emily McLaughlin in 1969, he expressed an interest in appearing on her daytime hit, "General Hospital." The show's producer didn't believe him, but his interest was sincere.
Father of Todd Hunter.
Following in the footsteps of fellow heartthrob turned hit crooner Tab Hunter, he recorded a never-released album of love songs for Parade Records in 1957, some of which he wrote, including "Dusty", dedicated to his new wife.
Graduated from Northwestern University. He majored in speech and radio and minored in psychology and English. (26 August 1949)
He desperately lobbied to be cast as Mike Brady for the TV series "The Brady Bunch" (1969). Producer Sherwood Schwartz would not consider him, as he thought Hunter was "too good-looking to be an architect." Hunter died just months before the show premiered in 1969.
He was the first friend actor Roger Moore made in Hollywood. In his autobiography, Moore says he named his son Geoffrey Moore in his honor.
He worked as a model for several Chicago commercial photographers while a student at Northwestern University.
In a radio interview in Palm Springs on November 7, 2005, Laurel Goodwin, his co-star in the Star Trek pilot, revealed his wife at the time, Joan Bartlett, demanded he get more money to continue performing in the lead role when the series was picked up as a regular series. After long negotiations, the producers, feeling great pressure, decided to simply recast Hunter for a new actor and captain, James Tiberius Kirk, played by William Shatner. The crew was also recast to bring different ethnic backgrounds to the cast to show how they co-existed peacefully in the future.
Proposed marriage to Mai Tai Sing (1966), Sally Ann Howes (1967), ex-wife Joan Bartlett (1968), and Emily McLaughlin (1969).
Served in the United States Navy, under the service number 960 39 80, from May 28, 1945 to May 25, 1946. Received a Medical Discharge as a Seaman First Class and was awarded the World War II Victory Medal.
Son with Barbara Rush, Christopher (b. 29 August 1952).
Starred in unsold, unshown NBC series pilot "Journey Into Fear" in 1966. Based on same Eric Ambler novel as the 1942 movie with Orson Welles.
Under contract to Warner Bros., 1963-1965.
Was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity while at Northwestern University.
Was working toward his Master's in radio at UCLA when he was discovered.
While at Northwestern University, he studied under Alvina Krauss, who also taught such Hollywood luminaries as Charlton Heston, Tony Randall, Cloris Leachman, Claude Akins, Jerry Orbach, Ann-Margret and Warren Beatty. Many years after he graduated, Ms. Krauss stated that Hank McKinnies, as she knew him, was the most talented student she ever had.
While in Spain to film the Chicago Mafia story ¡Viva América! (1969), Hunter was injured in an on-set explosion, suffering facial lacerations from broken glass and powder burns. Later an old friend, a former British commando, accidentally hit him on the chin with a karate chop when Hunter, who knew judo, failed to defend himself in time, banging the back of his head against a door. Then, while on the plane with his wife returning to the United States, Hunter's right arm suddenly became semi-paralyzed and he lost the power of speech, two signs of a stroke. He was taken directly off the plane upon landing, to a hospital in Los Angeles. He recovered and was released after a couple of weeks. Shortly after signing to co-star with Vince Edwards in The Desperados (1969), Hunter suffered another cerebral hemorrhage while on a short flight of steps in his living room, and collapsed, injuring his head in the fall. It was not known how long he had been unconscious when he was finally found. He died, without regaining consciousness, the following day after surgery to repair the skull fracture, at age 42.