Pat Conway was an American actor who rose to fame for his role as Sheriff Clay Hollister in the western television series Tombstone Territory (1957-1960). He was the son of Hollywood director Jack Conway and the grandson of silent film star Francis X. Bushman. He had a promising career in the entertainment industry, but he also struggled with personal issues that led to his untimely death at the age of 50. What was Pat Conway’s cause of death and how did it affect his legacy?
Early Life and Career
Pat Conway was born on January 9, 1931, in Los Angeles, California. He grew up on his father’s ranch in Pacific Palisades, where he learned to ride horses and herd cattle. He attended Menlo Junior College in San Francisco and then studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse and the Old Vic in London. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to Hollywood and signing a contract with MGM.
Conway’s first role was in the 1951 movie Westward the Women as Sid Cutler. He also appeared in An Annapolis Story (1955), Geronimo (1962), and Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1967). However, he was best known for his portrayal of Sheriff Clay Hollister in Tombstone Territory, a western series set in Arizona Territory in the late 1800s. Conway starred in all 92 episodes of the show, which ran from 1957 to 1960 on ABC and then in syndication. He also guest-starred in other popular western shows, such as Gunsmoke, Rawhide, and Bonanza.
Conway was described as a “nice”, “shy”, and “serious” actor who was dedicated to his craft. He had hobbies such as reading, cooking, music, sailing, and skin diving. He also admitted to being a solitary individual who valued his privacy.
Personal Problems and Death
Despite his success and popularity, Conway also faced some challenges in his personal life. He was married twice, first to Dee Humphrey from 1950 to 1955, and then to Nancy Sprigg Roe from 1963 until his death. He had one son with his second wife, Patrick Jr., who was born in 1964.
Conway also had a problem with alcoholism, which reportedly began when he was young and single in his twenties. According to Wikipedia, some sources claimed that he drank heavily on the set of Tombstone Territory. However, these rumors were based on a book that quoted someone who worked with him in the 1950s, and did not necessarily reflect his later condition.
Conway’s alcoholism may have contributed to his declining health and career. His last acting roles were in The Streets of San Francisco (1975) and The Abduction of Saint Anne (1975), a television movie. He died on April 24, 1981, in Santa Barbara County, California, at the age of 50. His obituary was very brief and did not mention any details about his death. According to IMDb, he died of kidney failure and dehydration secondary to acute alcoholism.
Legacy and Influence
Pat Conway’s death was a tragic loss for his family, friends, fans, and colleagues. He left behind a son who was only 17 years old at the time. He also left behind a legacy of memorable performances in western films and television shows. He is remembered as one of the iconic stars of the genre, especially for his role as Sheriff Clay Hollister.
Conway’s influence can be seen in other actors who followed his footsteps in playing western heroes. For example, James Arness, who played Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, once said that he admired Conway’s work and tried to emulate him. Conway also inspired many viewers who enjoyed watching his shows and admired his character.
Pat Conway was a talented actor who had a promising career in Hollywood. He was also a troubled man who battled with alcoholism and died young. His cause of death was a sad end to a life that had so much potential. However, he also left a lasting impression on the entertainment industry and the western genre. He will always be remembered as Sheriff Clay Hollister, the tough but fair lawman of Tombstone Territory.