George Macready

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George Peabody Macready, Jr.
George Macready in trailer for Paths of Glory (1957)
Born (1899-08-29)August 29, 1899
Providence
Rhode Island, USA
Died July 2, 1973(1973-07-02) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Emphysema
Resting place
Corpse donated to medical science
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Classical High School
Brown University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1942-1971
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Dana Macready (1931-1943) 3 children
Children Michael Macready
Marcia Macready
Elizabeth Macready

George Peabody Macready, Jr. (August 29, 1899 – July 2, 1973), was an American stage, film, and television actor often cast in roles as polished villains.[1]

Background[edit]

Macready was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and graduated there from Classical High School (1917) and, in 1921, from Brown University, where he was a member of Delta Phi fraternity and won a letter as the football team manager. While in college, Macready was injured in an accident in a Model T Ford. He sustained a permanent scar on his right cheek, having been thrust through the windshield while traveling on an icy road when the vehicle skidded and hit a telephone pole. The injury, along with his high brow and perfect diction, gave Macready the Gothic look of an authoritarian or villainous character. Macready was stitched up by a veterinarian, but he caught scarlet fever during the ordeal.[2]

Macready first worked in a bank in Providence and was then briefly a newspaperman in New York City before he turned to stage acting. He claimed to have been descended from the 19th century Shakespearean actor William Charles Macready. He made his Broadway debut in 1926 in The Scarlet Letter. Through 1958, he appeared in fifteen plays, both drama and comedy, including The Barretts of Wimpole Street, based on the family of the English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.[2]

Acting career[edit]

Macready's penchant for acting was spurred in part by the director Richard Boleslawski. His Shakespearean stage credits include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (1927), Malcolm in Macbeth (1928), and Paris in Romeo and Juliet (1934). On film, he played Marallus in the 1953 film adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. He also played Prince Ernst in the original stage version of Victoria Regina (1936), starring Helen Hayes.

His first film was Commandos Strike at Dawn in 1942, featuring Paul Muni. As Ballin Mundson in Gilda (1946), Macready is part of a deadly love triangle with the characters played by co-stars Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. He would again play opposite Ford several years later in the post-war adventure The Green Glove (1952). Stanley Kubrick's anti-war film, Paths of Glory (1957), provided his other great role, self-serving French World War I General Paul Mireau, who is brought down by Kirk Douglas's character, Colonel Dax. He had worked with Douglas previously in Detective Story (1951) and later he appeared with Douglas again in John Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May (1964).

Macready also leaped into the Golden Age of Television. He made four guest appearances on Raymond Burr's Perry Mason, including the role of murder victim Milo Girard in the 1958 episode, "The Case of the Purple Woman." He also appeared regularly in such series as Dick Powell's Four Star Playhouse, Ronald Reagan's General Electric Theater, The Ford Television Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Adventures in Paradise, and The Islanders.

He appeared in many western television series, including Bat Masterson, Bonanza, The Dakotas, Gunsmoke, Have Gun - Will Travel, The Rebel (once in the role of Confederate General Robert E. Lee), The Rifleman, Lancer, Riverboat, The Rough Riders, Chill Wills's Frontier Circus, Rory Calhoun's The Texan, and Steve McQueen's Wanted: Dead or Alive.

On December 5, 1961, he played a Colonel John Barrington in the episode "Handful of Fire" of NBC's Laramie western series. Barrington is presumably modeled on John Chivington of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 in Colorado. Barrington escapes while facing a court martial at Fort Laramie for his role in the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota in 1890. The episode reveals that series character Slim Sherman (John Smith) was present at Wounded Knee and hence testified against Barrington. Then Barrington's daughter, Madge, played by Karen Sharpe, takes Slim hostage. She has papers which she contends justify her father's harsh policies against the Indians. Slim escapes but is trapped by Sioux in the area and must negotiate with the Indians to save the party from massacre.[3]

On May 26, 1962, Macready was cast as Cyrus Canfield, a vengeful father searching for his runaway teenaged daughter, Phoebe, played by Floy Dean, in the episode "Phoebe", the series finale of NBC's The Tall Man. When Canfield sees series character Billy the Kid (Clu Gulager) with a necklace owned by Phoebe, he suspects that the young gunfighter may have killed his daughter. Billy, however, explains that Phoebe gave him the necklace as a gift after he rescued her in a rockslide.[4]

In addition to westerns, Macready appeared on The Outer Limits, Thriller with Boris Karloff, and Get Smart with Don Adams.

In the 1960s, Macready appeared for three years in the role of Martin Peyton in ABC's Peyton Place, the first prime-time soap opera on American television, with Dorothy Malone in the lead role of Constance MacKenzie.[2] He played publishing magnate Glenn Howard in the TV-movie Fame Is the Name of the Game starring Tony Franciosa but was replaced by Gene Barry in the role when the film was subsequently used as the pilot for the television series The Name of the Game with Franciosa, Barry, and Robert Stack revolving in the lead.

One of Macready's most effective film roles was also one of his last - the role of United States Secretary of State Cordell Hull in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, a painstakingly accurate depiction of the events leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.[2]

Personal life[edit]

A cultured and expert art collector, he and his good friend, fellow-actor Vincent Price, were partners in a Beverly Hills art gallery in the 1940s. They later closed it as their acting careers mushroomed.[2]

The veteran actor is father of actor/producer Michael Macready and the grandfather of the gymnast John Macready.[2]

Macready died from emphysema in 1973, and he was among entertainers who donated their bodies to a medical school, joining Walter Pidgeon, Bobby Darin, Butterfly McQueen, Spring Byington, and Lon Chaney, Jr. who died a week after Macready.

Partial filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, July 11, 1973, page 63.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "George Macready". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Laramie: "Handful of Fire", December 5, 1961". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ ""Phoebe", May 26, 1962". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]