Dropped out of high school to pursue his love of sailing; served as a sailor and fireman on vessels and eventually captained a ship around the world at age 22.
Took up modeling and acting in order to financially support his sailing hobby; received his first movie contract with Paramount Pictures in 1940.
Promoted by Paramount as "The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies" and "The Beautiful Blond Viking God."
Served in World War II for the Office of Strategic Services under the pseudonym John Hamilton; awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action.
Testified for the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951, admitting his past membership with the Communist party and naming names.
A custody battle with his second wife, Betty Ann de Noon, caused him to leave Hollywood in 1959; defied court orders and sailed with his children to the South Seas, which inspired his 1963 autobiography Wanderer.
1965, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Foreign Actor: Nominee