Born Alexander Viespi Jr. May 3, 1933, in New York, actor Alex Cord came down with polio at age 12, leaving him crippled and with a left leg two inches shorter than his right leg. Cord's parents sent him to a ranch in Wyoming to recover and build up strength in his left leg. During his recovery, Cord developed an affinity for riding horses and, by age 16, he was competing in rodeo contests, winning so much prize money that he dropped out of school to compete full time. Five years later, he gave up the rodeo after a serious injury caused by a bull that gored Cord in the stomach with its horn and ruptured his spleen. During an eight-month recuperation period, Cord settled on acting as a new vocation. Around the same time, a brief first marriage in 1955 resulted in the birth of his daughter.

Cord returned to his native New York and, after obtaining a high school diploma, attended New York University for a period. He then joined the American Shakespeare Theatre company in Connecticut, finding success acting on stage in New York and London. While still living in New York, Cord began commuting to Hollywood in 1961 to pick up roles on television series, including Laramie and Route 66, and got his first film role in The Chapman Report (1962; with Shelley Winters and Ty Hardin), using his birth name. By the time he was cast in his first starring film role, Synanon (1965; with Richard Conte and Stella Stevens), he changed his last name to Cord.

Alex CordAlex CordAlex Cord and Joanna Pettet

LEFT: Mid 1960s photo of Alex Cord. CENTER: Late 1960s photo. RIGHT: With actress Joanna Pettet, Cord's second wife. The couple wed in June 1968 and their son Damien was born in September of that year

Perhaps the biggest picture of Cord's career was the 20th Century Fox western Stagecoach (1966; with Ann-Margret and Mike Connors), a remake of the 1939 John Ford western of the same name starring John Wayne. The film was not a box office success, but Cord maintained a thriving film career throughout the remainder of the 1960s and into the 1970s in such films as the spaghetti western A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die (1968; with Robert Ryan), the crime drama Stiletto (1969; with Britt Ekland), the horror flick The Dead Are Alive (1972; with Samantha Eggar), and the science fiction/horror thriller Chosen Survivors (1974; with Bradford Dillman). By the mid 1970s, Cord was again working in television and began shopping around for a TV series to overcome the financial insecurities of a film career.

the films of alex cord

Synanon (1965)

Alex Cord and Chuck ConnorsAlex CordAlex Cord and Stella Stevens

From the groundbreaking Columbia drama Synanon, a tale of drug addiction and rehabilitation based on the organization of the same name. LEFT: With Chuck Connors. CENTER: Cord portrays junkie Zankie Albo. RIGHT: With love interest and fellow recovering addict Stella Stevens

Stagecoach (1966)

Alex Cord and Ann-Margret

With Ann-Margret in the 20th Century Fox western Stagecoach

The Scorpio Letters (1967)

Shirley Eaton and Alex Cord

With Shirley Eaton in the NBC made-for-TV thriller The Scorpio Letters. This film was given a theatrical release in Europe and Australia

The Brotherhood (1968)

Alex CordKirk Douglas and Alex Cord

From the underrated Paramount crime drama The Brotherhood. LEFT: Cord as Vince Ginetta. RIGHT: With co-star Kirk Douglas

A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die (1968)

Alex Cord

Cord stars in the spaghetti western A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die

Stiletto (1969)

Alex Cord and Britt EklandAlex Cord and Barbara McNair

From the crime drama Stiletto. LEFT: With Britt Ekland. RIGHT: With Barbara McNair

The Last Grenade (1970)

Alex Cord

From the war drama The Last Grenade

The Dead Are Alive (1972)

Alex Cord

Cord portrays Jason, an archeologist doing research on Etruscan tombs, in the violent Euro-horror flick The Dead Are Alive

Chosen Survivors (1974)

Alex CordDiana Muldaur and Alex Cord

LEFT: From the science fiction/horror flick Chosen Survivors. RIGHT: With Diana Muldaur

Fire! (1977)

Ernest Borgnine and Alex Cord

With Ernest Borgnine in the made-for-television disaster movie Fire!

Sidewinder 1 (1977)

Alex Cord

Shot in New Mexico, Sidewinder 1 is arguably the first film about motocross racing

Airwolf (1984-1986 CBS TV Series)

Alex Cord, Jean Bruce Scott, Ernest Borgnine, and Jan-Michael Vincent

From the CBS TV series Airwolf with Jean Bruce Scott, Ernest Borgnine, and Jan-Michael Vincent

alex cord today

Cord and Pettet had a rocky marriage that Pettet ended in 1975, yet their relationship continued for several years following their divorce. After a few failed TV pilots, such as Genesis II (1973; with Mariette Hartley), Cord finally landed a series titled W.E.B. in 1978 on NBC, but the series was canceled after just a few episodes. His next series, Cassie & Co., suffered a similar fate in 1982, but his third series Airwolf (1984-1986; with Jan Michael Vincent), was well-received. Following his son's death in 1995 from a drug overdose, Cord retreated from his career. Since then, he has remained mostly retired from acting but has returned to writing novels, something he's done since the 1970s.

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Fire from Below (2009) with Kevin Sorbo and Andrew Stevens
Air Rage (2001) with Ice-T, Kimberly Oja, Gil Gerard, Shane Conrad, and Rick Cramer
University Blues (1996) with Terence Knox
Hologram Man (1995) with Joe Lara, Michael Nouri, John Amos, and Joseph Campanella
To Be the Best (1993) with Michael Worth and Martin Kove
The Naked Truth (1993) with Robert Caso, Kevin Schon, Herb Edelman, David Birney, Yvonne De Carlo, Erik Estrada, Norman Fell, Lou Ferrigno, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Dick Gautier
CIA Code Name: Alexa (1992) with Lorenzo Lamas, Kathleen Kinmont, and O.J. Simpson
Roots of Evil (1992) with Delia Sheppard, Charles Dierkop, Deanna Lund, and Brinke Stevens
Joey Takes a Cab (1991) with Lionel Stander, Kathleen Freeman, Michael J. Pollard, Kaye Ballard, Eileen Brennan, Bruce Kirby, and Royal Dano
Street Asylum (1990) with Wings Hauser and G. Gordon Liddy
A Girl to Kill For (1990) with Sasha Jenson and Irene Tsu
Uninvited (1988) with George Kennedy and Clu Gulager
The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission (1988) with Telly Savalas, Ernest Borgnine, Jeff Conaway, Erik Estrada, Hunt Block, Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, and John Matuszak
Jungle Warriors (1984) with John Vernon, Sybil Danning, Marjoe Gortner, Woody Strode, and Dana Elcar
Airwolf (1984) with Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, and David Hemmings
Goliath Awaits (1981) with Mark Harmon, Christopher Lee, Eddie Albert, John Carradine, Robert Forster, and Frank Gorshin
Best of Friends (1981) with Peter Graves and Carol Lynley
Beggarman, Thief (1979) with Jean Simmons, Glenn Ford, Lynn Redgrave, Andrew Stevens, Bo Hopkins, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Anne Francis, and Anne Jeffreys
Grayeagle (1977) with Ben Johnson, Iron Eyes Cody, Lana Wood, Jack Elam, and Paul Fix
Have I Got a Christmas for You (1977) with Steve Allen, Jim Backus, Adrienne Barbeau, Milton Berle, Jack Carter, Herb Edelman, Kim Fields, and Harold Gould
Sidewinder 1 (1977) with Marjoe Gortner, Michael Parks, Susan Howard, Charlotte Rae, and Barry Livingston
Fire! (1977) with Ernest Borgnine, Vera Miles, Patty Duke, Donna Mills, Lloyd Nolan, Neville Brand, Ty Hardin, and Erik Estrada
Inn of the Damned (1975) with Judith Anderson and Michael Craig
Chosen Survivors (1974) with Jackie Cooper, Richard Jaeckel, Bradford Dillman, and Diana Muldaur
Genesis II (1973) with Mariette Hartley and Ted Cassidy
The Dead Are Alive (1972) with Samantha Eggar, John Marley, and Horst Frank
The Tell-Tale Heart (1971) with Sam Jaffe and Edward Binns
The Last Grenade (1970) with Stanley Baker, Honor Blackman, and Richard Attenborough
Stiletto (1969) with Britt Ekland, Patrick O'Neal, Barbara McNair, John Dehner, and Roy Scheider
The Brotherhood (1968) with Kirk Douglas, Irene Papas, Luther Adler, Susan Strasberg, and Murray Hamilton
A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die (1968) with Arthur Kennedy, Robert Ryan, and Renato Romano
The Scorpio Letters (1967) with Shirley Eaton
Stagecoach (1966) with Ann-Margret, Red Buttons, Mike Connors, Bing Crosby, Robert Cummings, Van Heflin, Slim Pickens, Stefanie Powers, and Keenan Wynn
Synanon (1965) with Edmond O'Brien, Chuck Connors, Stella Stevens, Richard Conte, Eartha Kitt, Barbara Luna, and Alejandro Rey
The Chapman Report (1962) with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Jane Fonda, Claire Bloom, Shelley Winters, Glynis Johns, Ray Danton, Ty Hardin, Andrew Duggan, John Dehner, Cloris Leachman, and Chad Everett

Airwolf, 1984-1986 CBS TV series. Cord portrayed Michael Coldsmith Briggs III
Cassie & Co., 1982 NBC TV series. Cord portrayed Mike Holland

High Tide, episode University Blues: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired October 27 and November 4, 1996
Walker, Texas Ranger, episode The Guardians, originally aired October 7, 1995
High Sierra Search and Rescue, episode Mozart & Stone, originally aired July 31, 1995
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, episode The Sacred Chalice of I-Ching, originally aired July 3, 1995
Jake and the Fatman, episode Come Closer to Me, originally aired January 8, 1992
Mission: Impossible, episode For Art's Sake, originally aired December 14, 1989
Freddy's Nightmares, episode Memory Overload, originally aired November 5, 1989
Jake and the Fatman, episode It Ain't Necessarily So, originally aired April 26, 1989
Monsters, episode Rouse Him Not, originally aired December 31, 1988
War of the Worlds, episode The Good Samaritan, originally aired December 26, 1988
Simon & Simon, episode The Richer They Are the Harder They Fall, originally aired December 10, 1988
The Law and Harry McGraw, episode The Fallen Arrow, originally aired October 20, 1987
Murder, She Wrote, episode Death Stalks the Big Top: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired September 28 and October 5, 1986
Hotel, episode Flesh and Blood, originally aired October 10, 1984
Fantasy Island, episode To Fly with Eagles/The High Cost of Living, originally aired January 21, 1984
Fantasy Island, episode Eternal Flame/A Date with Burt, originally aired March 5, 1983
Fantasy Island, episode Mr. Nobody/La Liberatora, originally aired November 7, 1981
Fantasy Island, episode Delphine/The Unkillable, originally aired April 11, 1981
The Love Boat, episode The Frugal Pair/Doc's Dismissal/The Girl Next Door, originally aired January 3, 1981
Fantasy Island, episode With Affection, Jack the Ripper/Gigolo, originally aired November 29, 1980
The Love Boat, episode The Brotherhood of the Sea/Letter to Babycakes/Daddy's Pride, originally aired November 17, 1979
W.E.B., episode The Great Clowns, originally aired October 5, 1978
W.E.B., episode Walk a Velvet Tightrope, originally aired September 28, 1978
W.E.B., episode To Angelica with Love, originally aired September 21, 1978
W.E.B., episode Pilot: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired September 13 and 14, 1978
The Six Million Dollar Man, episode Task Force, originally aired December 19, 1976
Police Woman, episode Tennis Bum, originally aired November 30, 1976
The Quest, episode The Buffalo Hunters, originally aired September 29, 1976
Police Story, episode Officer Dooly, originally aired March 5, 1976
Joe Forrester, episode Squeeze Play, originally aired February 9, 1976
Matt Helm, episode Murder on Ice, originally aired October 25, 1975
Police Story, episode Losing Game, originally aired September 30, 1975
Police Story, episode To Steal a Million, originally aired February 4, 1975
Born Free, episode The Trepassers, originally aired November 4, 1974
Police Story, episode Line of Fire, originally aired December 18, 1973
The F.B.I., episode Night of the Long Knives, originally aired March 25, 1973
Mission: Impossible, episode Crack-Up, originally aired December 9, 1972
Gunsmoke, episode The Sodbusters, originally aired November 20, 1972
Insight, episode Killer, originally aired April 20, 1972
Rod Serling's Night Gallery, episode The Dark Boy/Keep in Touch - We'll Think of Something, originally aired November 24, 1971
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, episode The Lady Is My Wife, originally aired February 1, 1967
Branded, episode Survival, originally aired January 24, 1965
Route 66, episode Where There's a Will, There's a Way: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired March 6 and 13, 1964
East Side/West Side, episode If Your Grandmother Had Wheels, originally aired March 2, 1964
Route 66, episode A Cage in Search of a Bird, originally aired November 29, 1963
Route 66, episode Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!, originally aired October 11, 1963
Route 66, episode But What Do You Do in March?, originally aired May 3, 1963
The Doctors and the Nurses, episode Circle of Choice, originally aired February 21, 1963
Alcoa Premiere, episode The Hat of Sergeant Martin, originally aired February 7, 1963
Armstrong Circle Theatre, episode Invitation to Treason, originally aired January 2, 1963
Naked City, episode Make It Fifty Dollars and Add Love to Nona, originally aired November 14, 1962
Naked City, episode Stop the Parade! A Baby Is Crying!, originally aired April 20, 1963
Cain's Hundred, episode Take a Number, originally aired January 9, 1962
Frontier Circus, episode Winter Quarters, originally aired November 23, 1961
Laramie, episode The Mountain Men, originally aired October 17, 1961

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Watch Alex Cord's 1975 horror thriller Inn of the Damned
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