Born on Sept. 6, 1934, in Los Angeles, Jody McCrea was the oldest of McCrea and Dee’s three sons. Frances Dee was best known for playing sweet young things in the 1930s, e.g., Little Women and The Gay Deception (though her most remarkable performance at that time was the nymphomaniac in Blood Money), and for the atmospheric I Walked with a Zombie in 1943. Joel McCrea starred in dozens of dramas and comedies in the 1930s and 1940s, including the classics The Palm Beach Story (1942) and The More the Merrier (1943), but in the 1950s spent most of his on-screen time riding horses and wearing cowboy hats, usually in B+ productions.
Jody McCrea began his acting career in the short-lived 1959 television series Wichita Town, starring his father. He also appeared in several feature films throughout the 1960s, most notably as “Deadhead” and assorted variations of that doltish character in American International Pictures’ “Beach Party” movies starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, among them Beach Party (1963), Bikini Beach (1964), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965).
McCrea could also be spotted in a handful of B Westerns, including The Broken Land (1962), with Jack Nicholson in a supporting role; Young Guns of Texas (1962), opposite James Mitchum (son of Robert Mitchum) and Alana Ladd (daughter of Alan Ladd and Sue Carol); and a couple for A. C. Lyles’ B unit at Paramount, which featured performers who had seen better days: Dale Robertson and Yvonne De Carlo in Law of the Lawless (1964), and Rory Calhoun and Virginia Mayo in Young Fury (1965). (His role in Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee ended up on the cutting-room floor.)
McCrea’s film career came to an abrupt halt in 1970, following the release of Cry Blood, Apache, which he also produced. (Joel McCrea was co-producer and made a cameo appearance.) Jody McCrea eventually moved to New Mexico, where he became a rancher.
The Jody McCrea website adds that he was “the only actor appearing in the American International Pictures beach movies who could actually surf.”