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- For the American ice hockey player, see Jeff Corey (ice hockey).
August 10, 1914|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 16, 2002
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Hope Corey (1938–2002) 3 children|
Corey was born Arthur Zwerling in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Mary (née Peskin) and Nathan Zwerling. After a Shakespearean stint in New York in the late 1930s, Corey made the move to Hollywood in 1940, where he became a highly respected character actor. One of his film roles was in Superman and the Mole Men, (1951), which was later edited to a two-part episode of the television series The Adventures of Superman, retitled "The Unknown People". His portrayal of a xenophobic vigilante coincidentally reflected what was about to happen to him.
His career was halted in the early 1950s, when he was summoned before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Corey refused to give names of alleged Communists and subversives in the entertainment industry and went so far as to ridicule the panel by offering critiques of the testimony of the previous witnesses. This behavior led to his being blacklisted for 12 years. "Most of us were retired Reds. We had left it, at least I had, years before," Corey told Patrick McGilligan, the co-author of Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist who also teaches film at Marquette University. "The only issue was, did you want to just give them their token names so you could continue your career, or not? I had no impulse to defend a political point of view that no longer interested me particularly . . . They just wanted two new names so they could hand out more subpoenas."
During his blacklisting Corey drew upon his experience in various actors' workshops (including the Actors' Lab, which he helped establish) by seeking work as an acting teacher. He soon became one of the most influential teachers in Hollywood. His students, at various times, included Robert Blake, James Coburn, Richard Chamberlain, James Dean, Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, Michael Forest, James Hong, Sally Kellerman, Shirley Knight, Penny Marshall, Jack Nicholson, Darrell M. Smith, Diane Varsi, Sharon Tate, Rita Moreno, Leonard Nimoy, Sally Forrest, Anthony Perkins, Rob Reiner, Robert Towne, Barbra Streisand and Robin Williams.
Back to work in the 1960s
In 1962 Corey began working in films again, and remained active into the 1990s. He played Hoban in The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and Tom Chaney the principal villain in True Grit (1969) and was sheriff Bledsoe in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (also 1969) who warned Butch and Sundance that no good would come of their breaking the law. In Seconds (1966), a science fiction drama film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Rock Hudson, Corey with Will Geer and John Randolph played wealthy executives who opt to restart their lives with a new identity, an ironic parallel to the real life of Corey and the other principal actors (excepting Hudson) who had also been proscribed from Hollywood films during the "Blacklist" years of the 1950s.
Corey played a police detective in the psychological thriller The Premonition (1976) and he reprised the role of sheriff Bledsoe in the prequel Butch and Sundance: The Early Days. (1979). He also played Wild Bill Hickok in Little Big Man (1970).
He made guest appearances on many TV shows. Corey appeared as murder victim Carl Bascom in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Reckless Rockhound" (1964). He featured in science fiction series too, including an episode of The Outer Limits ("O.B.I.T.", 1963) in which he played Byron Lomax; Star Trek ("The Cloud Minders", 1969) in which he played High Advisor Plasus; and Babylon 5 ("Z'ha'dum", 1996) in which he played Justin, and as Caspay in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). He was also the voice of the villain Silvermane (in elderly form) in Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994). He also appeared in the short-lived Paper Moon (1974), a comedy about a father and his presumed daughter roaming through the American Midwest during the Great Depression based on the film. Corey had a memorable role in a third-season Night Court (1986) as a burned-out judge who'd lost his grip on reality.
Played Dr. Miles Talmadge on Night Gallery episode "The Dead Man" 1970
In an interview in February 1973 aboard the SS Universe Campus of Chapman College, Corey detailed his TV work on Rod Serling's Night Gallery. Up to this time he was proudest of this work, for which he received an Emmy nomination. Returning to one aspect of his acting roots, he can be seen directing some of the screen tests for Superman in the DVD extras. He also played Lex Luthor in several such screen tests.
Corey died on August 16, 2002 from complications from a fall at the age of 88.
- Unconquered - Trapper (uncredited) (1947)
- Miracle on 34th Street - Reporter (uncredited) (1947)
- Wake of the Red Witch - Mr. Loring (1948)
- Joan of Arc - Prison Guard (1948)
- Superman and the Mole Men - Luke Benson (1951)
- True Grit - Tom Chaney (1969)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Sheriff Bledsoe (1969)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes - Caspay (1970)
- Catlow - Merridew (1971)
- The Pirate - TV Movie - Prince Feiyad (1978)
- Homeward Bound - TV movie - George (1980)
- Conan the Destroyer - Grand Vizier (1984)
- Beethoven's 2nd - Gus (the Janitor) (1993)
- The Lottery - TV movie - Albert Smith (1996)
- The Outer Limits - episode - O.B.I.T. - Byron Lomax (1963)
- Bonanza - episode - The Bridegroom - Tuck Dowling (1966)
- Star Trek - episode - The Cloud Minders - Plasus (1969)
- Hawaii Five-O - episode - King of the Hill - Doctor William Hanson (1969)
- Gunsmoke - episode - The Night Riders - Judge Procter (1969)
Night Gallery - The Dead Man - Dr. Miles Talmadge (1970)
- Hawaii Five-O - episode - Highest Castle, Deepest Grave - Duncan (1971)
- Mannix - episode - Overkill - Paul Sorenson (1971)
- Bonanza - episode - A Single Pilgrim - Frank Brennan (1971)
- Alias Smith and Jones - episode - The Day the Amnesty Came Through - Governor George W. Baxter (1972)
- Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color - episode - The High Flying Spy: Part 1 - Gen. McClellan (1972)
- Police Story - episode - The Big Walk - Defense Attorney (1973)
- Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law - episode - Poor Children of Eve - Monsignor Morell (1973)
- The Six Million Dollar Man - episode - Lost Love - Orin Thatcher (1975)
- Starsky and Hutch - episode - Death Ride - Andrew Mello (1975)
- Kojak - episode - A House of Prayer, a Den of Thieves - Frank Raynor (1975)
- McCloud - episode - Our Man in the Harem - Sheik Kipal (1976)
- The Bionic Woman - episode - The Night Demon - Thomas Bearclaw (1977)
- Greatest Heroes of the Bible - episode - David & Goliath - Saul (1978)
- Fantasy Island - episode - Let the Goodtimes Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger - Tibur (uncredited) (1978)
- Barney Miller - episode - The Prisoner - Ralph Timmons (1978)
- Butch and Sundance: The Early Days - Sheriff Ray Bledsoe (1979)
- Little House on the Prairie - episode - Barn Burner - Judge Parker (1979)
- Barney Miller - episode - The Desk - Caleb Webber (1979)
- Little House on the Prairie - episode - Blind Justice - Edgar Mills (1981)
- Night Court - episode - Santa Goes Downtown - Santa (1984)
- Simon & Simon - episode - Slither - Police Sgt. Spencer (1985)
- The A-Team - episode - Family Reunion - A.J. Bancroft (1986)
- Night Court - episode - The Night Off - Judge Hirsch (1986)
- Perfect Strangers - episode - Taking Stock - Henry Casselman (1987)
- Jake and the Fatman - episode - It All Depends on You - Judge Ralph Colella (1989)
- Beauty and the Beast - episode - The Reckoning - Winston Burke (1990)
- Picket Fences - episode - This Little Piggy - The Captain (1995)
- The Marshal - episode - The Bounty Hunter - Alex Cooper (1995)
- Spiderman: The Animated Series - episodes - Neogenic Nightmare Chapter 1: The Insidious Six/Chapter 2: Battle of the Insidious Six/Chapter 11: Tablet of Time/ Chapter 12: Ravages of Time/ & Partners in Danger Chapter 5: Partners - Elderly Silvermane (1995-1997)
- Babylon 5 - episode - Z'ha'dum - Justin (1996)
- Inside Magoo - Short - Doctor (1960)
- Alias Smith and Jones - Director - episodes - The Men That Corrupted Hadleyburg & The Day the Amnesty Came Through (1972)
- Douglas Martin (August 20, 2002). "Jeff Corey, Character Actor And Acting Instructor, 88". The New York Times.
- "Jeff Corey". Filmreference.com.