Here is a million-dollar baby. Maybe.

This is the picture: Male, five-eleven, the muscular physique of “Mr. America” and brooding, dark good looks reminiscent of the late James Dean.

Talents: Acting and singing.

Personality: Partly cloudy, with occasional thunder.

Name: Rod Lauren.

And maybe he will be the biggest star of the coming decade.

– “Birth of a Star” by Martin Cohen
TV-Radio Mirror, October 1960


On the day he was born – on March 26, 1940, in Fresno – his parents named him Roger Lawrence Strunk.1Confusingly, Roger’s “official” entry in the Fresno County birth records for 1939 clearly shows his name on arrival as Rogers Laurence Strunk, and his father as Laurence Jess Strunk, both of which appear to be errors. To add to the confusion, Roger’s name in the 1940 federal census appears to have been reported as Rodgers T. Strunk. By the time he turned twenty, he would be heard on radio stations across the United States (as well as in Canada, Great Britain and several other countries), written about in newspapers and magazines – from his hometown Tracy Press to Life, Time, and Parade – and seen on national television with Ed Sullivan, Bob Hope, Perry Como, Steve Allen and on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” known now as “moody, sullen-faced” Rod Lauren.

This is the story of Rod Lauren, and of Roger Strunk.

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