Lynn in the Four Daughters (1938)
|Born||Ragnar Godfrey Lind
February 16, 1909
Auburn, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||November 24, 1995
Burbank, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bates College|
|Occupation||Actor, film producer|
|Height||6' 1" (1.85 m)|
|Spouse(s)||Helen Lynn (1980–1995)
Patricia Lynn (1965– d.1974)
Robin Chandler (1946– d.1958)
||U.S. Air Force|
|Years of service||1944–46 (active)|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Bronze Star Medal|
Jeffrey Lynn (born Ragnar Godfrey Lind; February 16, 1909 – November 24, 1995) was an American stage-screen actor and film producer who worked primarily through the Golden Age of Hollywood establishing himself as one of the premier talents of his time. Throughout his acting career, both on stage and in film, he was typecast as "the attractive, reliable love interest of the heroine," or "the tall, stalwart hero."
Born and raised in Massachusetts, he attended Bates College, before working as a teacher. He was tapped to act in his first film in 1938, which convinced him to move to Hollywood, California. His second film–Four Daughters (1938)–propelled him into national fame sparking three sequels: Daughters Courageous (1939), Four Wives (1939) and Four Mothers (1941) with Lynn reprising his role in each of them. He was at the center of the Gone with the Wind (1939) screening controversy; he was noted as the top contender to play Ashley Wilkes, however, the directer eventually chose Leslie Howard instead. Lynn was asked to join James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in The Roaring Twenties (1939), a gangster noir that garnered him critical praise. His success continued with such films as The Fighting 69th (1940) in which he portrayed poet-soldier Joyce Kilmer opposite Cagney, It All Came True (1940), All This and Heaven Too (1940) and Million Dollar Baby (1941).
His movie career was put on hold for World War II draft, where he received a Bronze Star for his service as a in Italy and Austria as a combat intelligence captain. He returned to the screen in 1948 and was in the notably successful, A Letter to Three Wives (1949), which went on to be nominated of best picture in the 1950 prime time Academy Awards. A year later he joined that cast of Home Town Story (1951) billed alongside Marilyn Monroe. His later film career credits include: BUtterfield 8 (1960) along with Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Harvey, and Tony Rome (1967) with Frank Sinatra.
Lynn also began to act on Broadway and was featured in such plays as Any Wednesday (1966) and Dinner at Eight (1967). Later on in his career he found mixed critical success television starring in hit shows such as Robert Montgomery Presents, Your Show of Shows, My Son Jeep (with young Martin Huston), and Lux Video Theatre.
He died in November 1995 in Burbank, California from natural causes and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. Actor Jeffrey Lynn "Jeff" Goldblum is named in honor of Jeffrey Lynn.
Early life and education
Ragnar Godfrey Lind was born in Auburn, Massachusetts.
He attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and graduated in 1930 with a B.A. degree in education. While in college, he was a part of the secret society, Nova Scotia, and participated in the 1930 Penn Relays where he won the year's international two mile track & field run. His interest in acting developed in college where a production of Brother Rat landed him a contract signing with Warner Bros in 1937.
Early career and rise to fame: 1938 - 1941
He came to Hollywood and made his film debut in short Out Where the Stars Begin (1938). He achieved a notable success in 1938 appearing with the Lane Sisters in Four Daughters, and the popularity of the movie was so great that it was followed by three sequels, Daughters Courageous (1939), Four Wives (1939) and Four Mothers (1941) with Lynn reprising his role in each of them.
After the success of Four Daughters, Lynn was screen tested for the role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). He was considered to be the front runner for the role, partly due to his physical resemblance to the character as written. Lynn was used extensively during the "Search for Scarlett" playing Ashley in the screen tests for many of the actresses who tried out for the part. David O. Selznick eventually cast the more experienced and popular Leslie Howard. It was during this time that he received typecasting as "the handsome romantic husband or boyfriend," "the attractive, reliable love interest of the heroine," and "the tall, stalwart hero."
Instead, Lynn acted in The Roaring Twenties (1939), a gangster film that reunited him with Four Daughters star Priscilla Lane, as well as James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. As one of a trio of friends, and the only one not to "go bad", Lynn won excellent reviews. His success continued with such films as The Fighting 69th (1940) in which he portrayed poet-soldier Joyce Kilmer opposite Cagney, It All Came True (1940), All This and Heaven Too (1940) and Million Dollar Baby (1941).
Service in WWII & critical acclaim: 1941 - 1955
His movie career was interrupted by service during World War II. He earned a bronze star in the war as a combat intelligence captain in Italy and Austria. He was discharged in 1946 as Special Intelligence Officer.
While in service he often served as a bartender in his unit's Officer's Club. He legally changed his name to his stage name while in service as he noted "that he wanted to serve his country during World War II under the name that had become popular." In 1947, he was in a car accident with his first wife according to the New York Times.
He returned to the screen in 1948. He was in the notably successful A Letter to Three Wives (1949). Lynn starred in Home Town Story (1951) which featured Marilyn Monroe in a minor role and in Lost Lagoon (1958) opposite Lelia Barry.
Later television, film, and broadway work: 1960 - 1987
In 1960, he starred in BUtterfield 8 (1960) along with Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Harvey. The same year he was tapped to star in Any Wednesday (1966) to mixed reception. A year later he went back to Broadway to act in Dinner at Eight (1967). Later in the year he received a call from the director of Tony Rome (1967), asking him to star in the movie. Lynn initially declined the offer in pursuit of side projects but came around after the directer brought on Frank Sinatra.
In 1982, he played the lead role in Forbidden Love as Dr. Brinkley. He starred in two episodes of Simon & Simon as Perkins Oliphant in 1983. In 1985, he established himself as an actor and producer at the Los Angeles' Center Theater. A year later he produced The Diary of Anne Frank at the Centre in 1986.
Lynn was asked to star in an episode of Murder, She Wrote in 1987, a television sequel to the feature film Strange Bargain (1949), which reunited him with his original co-star, Martha Scott. He played the character "Sam Wilson."
Death and legacy
He died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank, California, aged 86, from natural causes. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. He was survived by his third wife, seven stepchildren, three sisters, two brothers, and 17 grandchildren.
His New York Times obituary cited him as "the handsome leading man in a string of Warner Brothers films." Denis Gifford of The Independent noted that "his good looks and sincere playing won him a place in the memories of all film fans of Hollywood's golden age."
- Four Daughters (1938)
- Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938)
- When Were You Born (1938)
- Daughters Courageous (1939)
- Four Wives (1939)
- A Child Is Born (1939)
- Espionage Agent (1939)
- The Roaring Twenties (1939)
- Yes, My Darling Daughter (1939)
- My Love Came Back (1940)
- The Fighting 69th (1940)
- It All Came True (1940)
- All This, and Heaven Too (1940)
- Money and the Woman (1940)
- Million Dollar Baby (1941)
- Underground (1941)
- Four Mothers (1941)
- Law of the Tropics (1941)
- Flight from Destiny (1941)
- The Body Disappears (1941)
- Whiplash (1948)
- For the Love of Mary (1948)
- Black Bart (1948)
- A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
- Strange Bargain (1949)
- Captain China (1950)
- Home Town Story (1951)
- Up Front (1951)
- Doorway to Suspicion (1954)
- Checkmate (1953)
- Lost Lagoon (1957)
- BUtterfield 8 (1960)
- The Spiral Staircase (1961)
- Tony Rome (1967)
- Ap (1995-12-02). "Jeffrey Lynn, 89, Actor in Leading-Man Roles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- "OBITUARY: Jeffrey Lynn". The Independent. 1995-11-28. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- Oliver, Myrna (1995-11-30). "Jeffrey Lynn; Film, Television, Stage Actor". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- League, The Broadway. "Jeffrey Lynn – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- "Winning decade at the Penn Relays | 150 Years | Bates College". www.bates.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- Nevin, David (1970). Muskie of Maine. Ladd Library, Bates College: Random House, New York. p. 99.
- "Jeffrey Lynn, 89, Actor in Leading-Man Roles". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1995-12-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- "Jeffrey Lynn". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
- "Jeffrey Lynn in Auto Accident". The New York Times. 1947-04-05. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
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