Don Terry (born Donald Prescott Loker, 8 August 1902 – 6 October 1988) was an American film actor, best known for his lead appearances in B films and serials in the 1930s and early 1940s. His best known role is probably playing the recurring character of Naval Commander Don Winslow in Universal Pictures serials of the early 1940s, including Don Winslow of the Navy (1942) and Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943).
Early life and background
Terry was born in Natick, Massachusetts in 1902. He was a 1925 graduate of Harvard and participated in the 1924 Olympics as a boxer.
Terry was discovered while visiting Los Angeles as a tourist. During the visit, he hoped to see some film stars, but had been disappointed. Nearing the end of his trip, he decided to have lunch at Hollywood's Café Montmartre since it was a favorite of many in the film industry. Terry thought he might finally see a film star while having lunch, but found only other tourists who had the same hope. However, Fox screenwriter Charles Francis Coe was at the restaurant and happened to see Terry and thought of the screenplay he had just completed, based on his 1927 novel. Coe introduced himself and asked Terry if he was in the film industry. He gave Terry his business card and invited him to the Fox lot for a screen test. Terry went to the lot expecting only to be able to see some film stars. When Terry's screen test came out of the film laboratory, he was signed as the lead in the 1928 film Me, Gangster, the screenplay Coe had just written.
Known for his "typical clean-cut American hero roles", it was also noted that Terry was "not the most facile of actors". He was a contemporary of Victor Jory, Paul Kelly, and Charles Quigley, who all portrayed "bare-knuckled, sleeves-rolled-up hard hats" in various films.
In the late 1930s, he appeared in several films directed by Charles C. Coleman, including A Fight to the Finish (1937), Paid to Dance (1937), Who Killed Gail Preston? (1937), When G-Men Step In (1938), and Squadron of Honor (1938). His best known role is probably playing the recurring character of Naval Commander Don Winslow in Universal Pictures serials of the early 1940s, including Don Winslow of the Navy (1942) and Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943), co-starring Elyse Knox. Knox previously worked with Terry in Top Sergeant (1942). Terry appeared in Danger in the Pacific (1942) as a scientist, co-starring Louise Allbritton.
Other credits include Fugitives (1929), Border Romance (1929), The Secret of Treasure Island (1938), Barnacle Bill (1941), Overland Mail (1942), Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) and White Savage (1943), his last screen appearance before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was awarded the Purple Heart. He left the Navy in 1946 and never returned to film.
Post-film life and career
In 1941, Terry married Katherine Bogdanovich, a daughter of the founder of StarKist tuna. Bogdanovich, a 1940 graduate of University of Southern California (USC), shared an interest in Olympic competition with her husband. She tried out for the 1932 Olympics as a sprinter. The couple had two daughters, and after completing his World War II service, Terry dropped his screen name and went to work for StarKist as vice president of public and industrial relations.
Loker retired from the company in 1965, and the couple then devoted their time and energies to various philanthropic projects by establishing the Donald and Katherine Loker Foundation. The Foundation supported many projects, with a special emphasis on the colleges that were the Lokers' alma maters. They supported USC as board members of long standing, and with financial gifts of more than $30 million over a period of time. The Lokers were long-time friends of Richard and Pat Nixon and were also supporters of the Nixon Library. Despite the Lokers' lack of experience in chemistry, Carl Franklin, who was at the time USC's legal vice president, referred them to the university's hydrocarbon research institute, which was established in 1978 with the Lokers' financial aid. In 1983, it was renamed Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute in their honor. He died at Oceanside, California on 6 October 1988, aged 86. After his death, his widow continued the couple's philanthropic efforts until her death in 2008.