After leaving school, he managed to get a screen test at MGM and was given a bit part in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938). His big fame came with his part as Charles Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939). After Gone With the Wind, he had relatively small parts in other movies including Babes in Arms as Margaret Hamilton’s son, then a regular role as Lucky in the Hopalong Cassidy series of westerns in the 1940s. Among the films, which starred William Boyd as Hopalong, were Hoppy’s Holiday, The Dead Don’t Dream, and Borrowed Trouble. Brooks served in the United States Army during World War II. In 1948, he co-starred with Adele Jergens and an unknown (at the time) starlet (Marilyn Monroe) in the low-budget black-and-white Columbia Pictures film, Ladies of the Chorus. Brooks became the first actor to share an on-screen kiss with Monroe, who in a few years would be one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Filmed in just ten days, the film was released soon after its completion and brought only moderate success. Television brought new opportunities, again often in westerns. He played Cpl. Randy Boone in the 1950s television series, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Brooks had guest roles in 1950s western series, including The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, Mackenzie’s Raiders, The Range Rider, The Lone Ranger, Maverick, and Jefferson Drum. He appeared three times on Sky King and twice on the syndicated adventure series, Rescue 8, as well as on CBS’s Perry Mason courtroom drama series. After he left show business, Brooks ran a private ambulance company in Glendale, California. He sold the company in 1994 and retired to his ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley where he bred champion Andalusian horses. Brooks died in Santa Ynez, California, 20 days before his 85th birthday. He was survived by his second wife, Hermine, and his two children by his first marriage to Lois Laurel, a daughter of Stan Laurel.
- September, 21, 1918
- St. Louis, Missouri
- September, 01, 2003
- Santa Ynez, California
Cause of Death
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
- Glendale, Los Angeles, California