The Nevada Actor with Three Names

brad dexter

A question that comes up regularly in film trivia quizzes is to name The Magnificent Seven. It’s easy to start with: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Robert Vaughn.

Harder still is naming number six, Horst Buchholz. But what about number seven, the man who portrayed Harry Luck?

“Actor Brad Dexter, who rode with Yul Brynner as one of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and became pal to Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, has died at the age of 85,” reads an Associated Press story dated Dec. 13th, 2002. “Born Boris Milanovich in Goldfield, Nev. Dexter made guest appearances on the 1950s TV shows ‘Zane Gray Theater,’ ‘Death Valley Days’ and ‘Wagon Train.’ ”

Dexter died in relative obscurity, and nearly every website lists his given name as Boris Milanovich. Furthermore most Nevadans don’t know he is a native Nevada son.

The actor, who adopted the stage name Brad Dexter at the suggestion of director John Huston, was actually born Boris Michel Soso April 9th, 1917, in Goldfield. He moved to Los Angeles in 1920 with his family according to the U.S. Census.

Soso was the Belmont High School president of his 1935 graduating class. After high school, he enlisted in the military and then later when he appeared in Moss Hart’s “Winged Victory” in 1943, he was known as Barry Mitchell.

Following other roles, including the film “Heldorado” (1946) with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, he got his big break when Huston cast him in “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950) with Monroe. The year 1952, found Dexter, Jane Russell and Vincent Price at the Las Vegas gala première of the Howard Hughes film, “The Las Vegas Story.”

A year later, Dexter married popular singer Peggy Lee. However, the couple divorced after 10 months.

Dexter then co-starred in “The Magnificent Seven” with Yule Brynner (1960).  He played gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel in “The George Raft Story” (1961), and then teamed up with Brynner again in “Taras Bulba” (1962).

In 1965, Sinatra and Dexter co-starred in “None But the Brave” and “Von Ryan’s Express.” The two parted company during Dexter’s debut as a movie producer in London with “The Naked Runner” (1967).

Dexter’s career continued into the 1970s, having produced “Little Fauss and Big Halsy” (1970) starring Robert Redford, “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972) starring Diana Ross and  Warren Beatty’s “Shampoo” (1975) and “The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover” (1977). His last screen role was in “Secret Ingredient” (1990), ending a career spanning some 50 years and 40 movies.

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