||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (March 2013)|
in Twice Blessed (1945)
|Born||James Marshall Thompson
November 27, 1925
Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 1992
Royal Oak, Michigan, U.S.
|Cause of death||Congestive heart failure|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Long (1949-1992; his death)|
In 1943, Thompson, known for his boy-next-door good looks, was signed by Universal Pictures. He played quiet, thoughtful teens in Universal's feature films, including a lead opposite singing star Gloria Jean in Reckless Age, earning $350 weekly. During 1946, Universal discharged most of its contract players; that same year, Thompson moved to MGM and his film roles steadily increased and improved with appearances in The Clock and the lead in Gallant Bess, MGM's first film in Cinecolor.
Thompson became a freelance actor in the 1950s and worked for various studios on a variety of pictures, including a number of horror and science-fiction feature films; this included the role of Carruthers in It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), one of the two films that would later inspire the plot for director Ridley Scott's 1979 big budget feature Alien. Thompson also starred in the 1959 syndicated science fiction TV series World of Giants that follows Mel Hunter, a U. S. counter-espionage agent, accidentally miniaturized to just six inches in height, who must live in a dollhouse when not on missions.
By the 1960s, Thompson's boyish looks had matured and his screen persona became more authoritative. He co-starred with Annie Fargé in the 33-episode CBS sitcom Angel (1960–1961) about an American architect with a charming but scatterbrained French wife, who often got into zany, Lucy Ricardo-esque situations, caused in part by her lack of English; the show was canceled after 33 episodes due to low ratings, despite critical acclaim for French-born newcomer Annie Fargé.
He also guest starred as self-defense killer Arthur Poe in the 1960 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Wayward Wife."
In 1965 he returned to MGM for the lead in Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion that was then spun off into Daktari, a television series about a veterinarian in Africa. Though the series was shot in California, Thompson and his wife made several trips to various African nations to film second unit footage that was then used in the series and in a 1965 film The Mighty Jungle.
Thompson was a brother-in-law of actor Richard Long, best known for his role as Jarrod Barkley in ABC's The Big Valley. Thompson's wife, Barbara, was Long's sister. Long and Thompson appeared together in the film Cult of the Cobra.
- The Purple Heart (1944)
- The Clock (1945)
- The Valley of Decision (1945)
- They Were Expendable (1945)
- Bad Bascomb (1946)
- The Cockeyed Miracle (1946)
- Gallant Bess (1946)
- The Secret Heart (1946)
- The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947)
- B.F.'s Daughter (1948)
- Homecoming (1948)
- Words and Music (1948)
- Command Decision (1948)
- Roseanna McCoy (1949)
- Battleground (1949)
- Stars In My Crown (1950) (voice)
- Mystery Street (1950)
- Devil's Doorway (1950)
- Dial 1119 (1950)
- The Basketball Fix (1951)
- The Tall Target (1951)
- My Six Convicts (1952)
- The Rose Bowl Story (1952)
- The Caddy (1953)
- The Public Defender (TV series) (1954)
- Crashout (1955)
- Cult of the Cobra (1955)
- To Hell and Back (1955)
- Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955)
- Fiend Without a Face (1958)
- It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
- First Man into Space (1959)
- No Man Is an Island (1962)
- A Yank in Viet-Nam (1964)
- Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965)
- To the Shores of Hell (1966)
- Around the World Under the Sea (1966)
- Daktari (TV series) (1966–1969)
- George (TV series) (1972–1973)
- The Turning Point (1977)
- The Eddie Capra Mysteries (1978) (TV – episode "And the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead")
- The Formula (1980)
- White Dog (1982)
- Dallas: The Early Years (1986) (TV)
- McBain (1991)