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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.
|Occupation||Actor, director, acting instructor|
|Spouse(s)||Hope Corey (1938–2002; 3 children)|
Life and career
Jeff Corey was born Arthur Zwerling in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Mary (née Peskin) and Nathan Zwerling. He attended the Feagin School of Dramatic Art and took part in the New York Federal Theatre Project. He worked with Jules Dassin, Elia Kazan, John Randolph and other politically liberal theatrical personalities. Although he attended some meetings of the Communist Party, Corey never joined. A World War II veteran, Corey served in the US Navy. His memoir, "Improvising Out Loud: My Life Teaching Hollywood How To Act" which he wrote with his daughter, Emily Corey, will be published by the University Press of Kentucky in May 2017. His longtime friend and former student, Leonard Nimoy, wrote the Foreword for the book.
Corey moved to Hollywood in 1940 and 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.
Corey's career was halted in the early 1950s, when he was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). 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 (ISBN 978-0-312-17046-2), 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). Corey directed some of the screen tests for Superman (1978), which can be seen in the DVD extras, and played Lex Luthor in several try-outs.
Corey 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; as Caspay in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Babylon 5 ("Z'ha'dum", 1996) in which he played Justin. 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.
He played Dr. Miles Talmadge on Night Gallery season one episode one, "The Dead Man", on December 16, 1970. Corey detailed his TV work on Rod Serling's Night Gallery in an interview in February 1973 aboard the SS Universe Campus of Chapman College. He was proudest of this work, for which he received an Emmy nomination.
Corey died on August 16, 2002, aged 88, from complications from a fall.
- The Devil and Daniel Webster - Tom Sharp (1941) (uncredited)
- The Killers – "Blinky" Franklin (1946)
- The Wreck of the Hesperus (1948)
- Wake of the Red Witch – Mr. Loring (1948)
- Joan of Arc – Prison Guard (1948)
- Superman and the Mole Men – Luke Benson (1951)
- Blacklist hiatus (1951–1962)
- The Balcony - Bishop (1963)
- The Yellow Canary – Joe Pyle (1963)
- Lady in a Cage – George L. Brady Jr. aka Repent (1964)
- Mickey One - Larry Fryer (1965)
- The Cincinnati Kid - Hoban (1965)
- Seconds - Mr. Ruby (1966)
- In Cold Blood – Mr. Hickock (1967)
- The Boston Strangler - John Asgeirsson (1968)
- Impasse - Wombat (1969)
- True Grit – Tom Chaney (1969)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Sheriff Bledsoe (1969)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes – Caspay (1970)
- Getting Straight - Dr. Edward Willhunt (1970)
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs! - Captain Marden (1970)
- Cover Me Babe - Paul (1970)
- Little Big Man – Wild Bill Hickok (1970)
- Clay Pigeon - Clinic Doctor (1971)
- Catlow – Merridew (1971)
- Something Evil - Gehrmann (1972)
- Paper Tiger – Mr. King (1975)
- The Premonition - Lieutenant Mark Denver (1976)
- The Last Tycoon - Doctor (1976)
- Moonshine County Express - Hagen (1977)
- Curse of the Black Widow - Aspa Soldado (1977)
- Oh, God! - Rabbi Silverstone (1977)
- Captains Courageous - Salters (1977)
- Jennifer - Luke Baylor (1978)
- The Pirate – Prince Feiyad (1978)
- The Wild Geese - Mr. Martin (1978)
- Butch and Sundance: The Early Days – Sheriff Ray Bledsoe (1979)
- Battle Beyond the Stars - Zed (1980)
- The Sword and the Sorcerer - Craccus (1982)
- Conan the Destroyer – Grand Vizier (1984)
- Creator - Dean Harrington (1985)
- Messenger of Death - Willis Beecham (1988)
- Bird on a Wire - Lou Baird (1990)
- Fist of the North Star - Ryuuken/Narrator (1986, 1991 Streamline English dub)
- Beethoven's 2nd – Gus, the Janitor (1993)
- Surviving the Game - Hank (1994)
- Color of Night - Ashland (1994)
- The Outer Limits – season one, episode seven – "O.B.I.T." – Byron Lomax (1963)
- The Wild Wild West – two episodes:
- "The Night of A Thousand Eyes" – Captain Ansel Coffin (1965)
- "The Night of the Underground Terror" – Colonel Tacitus Mosely (1968)
- Bonanza – two episodes:
- Star Trek – season three, episode 21 – "The Cloud Minders" – Plasus (1969)
- Hawaii Five-O – two episodes:
- "King of the Hill" – Doctor William Hanson (1969)
- "Highest Castle, Deepest Grave" – Duncan (1971)
- Gunsmoke – episode – "The Night Riders" – Judge Procter (1969)
- Night Gallery – episode – "The Dead Man" – Dr. Miles Talmadge (1970)
- Mannix – episode – "Overkill" – Paul Sorenson (1971)
- Alias Smith and Jones – two episodes (1972):
- "The Men That Corrupted Hadleyburg" (Director)
- "The Day the Amnesty Came Through" – Governor George W. Baxter
- 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 Bob Newhart Show – episode – "Old Man Rivers" – Doctor Scott Rivers (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)
- Testimony of Two Men - William Simpson (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 – two episodes:
- "The Prisoner" – Ralph Timmons (1978)
- "The Desk" – Caleb Webber (1979)
- Little House on the Prairie – two episodes:
- "Barn Burner" – Judge Parker (1979)
- "Blind Justice" – Edgar Mills (1981)
- Night Court – two episodes:
- "Santa Goes Downtown" – Santa (1984)
- "The Night Off" – Judge Hirsch (1986)
- Simon & Simon – episode – "Slither" – Police Sgt. Spencer (1985)
- The A-Team – episode – "Family Reunion" – A.J. Bancroft (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 – season one, episode seven – "The Bounty Hunter" – Alex Cooper (1995)
- Spiderman: The Animated Series – two seasons, five episodes – voice of Elderly Silvermane (1995–1997):
- Babylon 5 – season three (Point of No Return), episode 22 – "Z'ha'dum" – Justin (1996)
- The Adventures of Philip Marlowe – radio series – Lieutenant Ebarra ("various times" (1948–1951))
- Inside Magoo – animated short – voice of Doctor (1960)
- Alias Smith and Jones – director – episodes – "The Men That Corrupted Hadleyburg" and "The Day the Amnesty Came Through" (1972)
- Fariello, Griffin (1995). Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition. New York, NY, US: Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-03732-6. OCLC 30625312. Archived from the original on 2015-05-08. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
Subjects: Anti-communist movements -- United States -- History.
Internal security -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
United States -- Congress -- House -- Committee on Un-American Activities.
- McGilligan, Patrick; Buhle, Paul (1997). Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist. New York, NY, US: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-17046-2. OCLC 36800596. Archived from the original on 2015-05-08. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
Subjects: Blacklisting of entertainers -- United States.
Blacklisting of authors -- United States.
Entertainers -- United States -- Interviews.
- Martin, Douglas (2002-08-20). "Jeff Corey, Character Actor And Acting Instructor, 88". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2014-03-09. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
Jeff Corey, a character actor who was barred from his field in the 1950s because of past association with the Communist Party and then became a prominent Hollywood acting instructor, died on Friday in Los Angeles.
- "Jeff Corey Biography". Filmreference.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
- Gordon, Mel (2009-10-23). Stanislavsky in America: An Actor's Workbook. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-25293-9. Retrieved 10 September 2014.