From soldier to actor: an extraordinary life

19-03-2019 by admin

SCREEN STAR: The many faces of local boy made good Frank Hagney.
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From boy soldier in the Boer War to Hollywood tough guy, the life and times of Frank Hagney is a boy’s own adventure that is so far fetched that it couldn’t be true. Except, that it isall true.

Born in 1884, Frank grew up in Fairfield with the family later moving to Liverpool.

With the end of the Boer war looming, a thenunder-age Frank enlisted in the 1st Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse in January 1902.

On his return from South Africa, Frank decided to take up professional cycling.

He made his reputation in many races across Sydney and won manytime prizes in the Goulburn to Liverpool race.

By 1911, Frank had taken up rowing. As a professional sculler, Frank raced in many one on one challenges and won races on a tour of New Zealand.

In 1914, hesailed off to England to pursue his rowing career.

The start of the First World War intervened however, and in mysterious circumstances, Frank fell in with former world boxing champion Jack Johnson who employed him as his sparring partner.

Life’s journey now took him to the United States where he toured with Johnson across the USA.

In 1916 Frank was crowned South American Boxing Champion.

After returning to the USA, Frank’s career took an incredible turn when he appeared in his first Hollywood movieThe Battlerin 1919.

His impressive physique was ideal for early Hollywood silent movies.

Cast in hundreds of films over the next 50 years, “the hardest working man in Hollywood”appeared alongside such screen legends such as John Wayne and Gary Cooper.

During the Golden Years of Hollywood, Frank appeared in legendary movies such asIt’s a Wonderful Life,Gunfight at the OK CorralandThe Ten Commandments.

In 1927 aged 44, Frank made an incredible comeback when he won the World Long Distance Rowing Championship.

With the advent of television, Frank appeared in programs such asThe Lone RangerandGunsmoke.

Long forgotten in his homeland, Frank died in 1973 and is buried in Los Angeles.

It was certainly an extraordinary life for a local lad.

Glen op den Brouw is the president of the City of Liverpool and DistrictHistorical Society

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