James Westmoreland, Forced by His Agent to Ditch His Stage Name, Dies at 80

James Westmoreland - Photofest - H 2016
Courtesy of Photofest

James Westmoreland - Photofest - H 2016

Probably best known as Rad Fulton, the actor appeared in 'The Young Philadelphians,' 'No Time for Sergeants' and 'The Last Sunset.'

James Westmoreland, the actor who was billed as Rad Fulton in such films as Come Next Spring, The Last Sunset and No, My Darling Daughter before his ex-agent told him he had to relinquish his stage name, has died. He was 80.

Westmoreland, who also starred on the short-lived ABC Western series The Monroes, died Sept. 14 in a hospital near his home in La Quinta, Calif., his friend, Caylyn Gamboa, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Westmoreland played a young hood in Joy Ride (1958) opposite Regis Toomey and romanced Juliet Mills in No, My Darling Daughter (1961). He also had small roles in such prominent films as No Time for Sergeants (1958) with Andy Griffith, The Young Philadelphians (1959) with Paul Newman, Hell Bent for Leather (1960) with Audie Murphy and The Last Sunset (1961) with Kirk Douglas.

On The Monroes, which aired for a season in 1966-67, the handsome, dark-haired actor starred as Ruel Jaxon, Barbara Hershey's love interest.

In 1970, Westmoreland was married for 47 days to True Grit actress Kim Darby; they had known each other for about three weeks before they exchanged vows.

A native of Dearborn, Mich., Westmoreland was born on Nov. 25, 1935. He graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit and left for New York City, where he worked as a model and was introduced to Henry Willson, the legendary star-making agent who molded the careers of Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Rhonda Fleming and many others.

After Westmoreland came to Los Angeles in 1954, Willson (as he did with many of those he represented) rebranded the fledgling actor with a new name. Rad Fulton made his onscreen debut as a dancer on a show hosted by singer Eddie Fisher and then appeared as Walter Brennan’s son in Come Next Spring (1956) and as a stage actor opposite Natalie Wood in Marjorie Morningstar (1958).

Westmoreland landed a contract at Warner Bros. and showed up on the studio's television Westerns Cheyenne, Colt .45 and Bronco and in the 1958 movie Lafayette Escadrille, directed by William Wellman.

In 1963, when he and Willson "decided to go our separate ways," the agent said that he was keeping Rad Fulton, the name.

"At first I told him that it was my name and that I had been acting with it for nearly 10 years, but he insisted he wanted it back," Westmoreland wrote on his website. "To this day I still don’t remember why all of this had to happen."

Now going by his birth name, Westmoreland played Boris Karloff’s son on an episode of CBS' The Wild Wild West, had a stint as Teddy Holmes on the ABC soap opera General Hospital and starred in the 1980 film Don’t Answer the Phone.