Alan Hale Jr.: The first and best nepo baby
He forged a path different from his father's.
Nepo babies: There are more of them in Hollywood today than ever before. It seems like every famous face in Hollywood has popped out a little clone to hog up all the good parts onscreen. It seems like actors are no longer judged by their skillset, but instead by their genealogy. Most blockbuster films are populated by actors who haven't auditioned in years. It seems like for every self-made Viola Davis or Barry Keoghan, there are ten Lily-Rose Depps.
But that hasn't always been the way. There hasn't always been a golden escalator to stardom for folks born of acting blood. There are (or were) plenty of actors and actresses for whom familial relation was a huge setback. Take, for instance, Alan Hale Jr., one of the first, and best, nepo babies of all time.
To briefly clarify, "nepo baby" is a term used to describe a celebrity who got to that level through nepotism. Alan Hale Jr., by contrast, was pretty set on not cashing in on his father's famous name.
Alan Hale, Sr. was famous as a sidekick, first for Erroll Flyn, and later for the likes of Lon Chaney, Douglas Fairbanks, and Humphrey Bogart. Hale, Sr. was there right at the beginning of Hollywood and appeared in more than 235 motion pictures before his death in 1950.
Meanwhile, Alan Hale, Jr. tried for movie work out of school and found that he was only hired because of his famous father. Unlike the stars of today, Hale, Jr. didn't cash in and use his family name as his meal ticket. Instead, he carved his own path. He joined the Coast Guard to fight in World War II. When he arrived back in the States, he found himself, "outside and unable to get in," according to a 1954 article in the Nevada State Journal.
Rather than depending on his family connections to continue building his career, Alan Hale Jr. pivoted to work outside of Hollywood to provide for his wife and children. He became a vacuum cleaner salesman when the acting work wasn't there.
Eventually though, after his father's death in 1950, Alan Hale, Jr. dropped the "Jr." and found success in television, first on Biff Baker, USA, and eventually on Gilligan's Island. But, each role was earned, not handed to him.
Alan Hale, Jr. was his own man.