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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|
(m. 1949; d. 1992)
Marshall Thompson (November 27, 1925 – May 18, 1992) was an American film and television actor.
Thompson was born James Marshall Thompson in Peoria, Illinois. He and his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Laurence B. Thompson, moved to California when he was one year old. Thompson enrolled at Occidental College with plans to become a dentist. He attended University High School where he was a classmate of Norma Jean Baker, later known as Marilyn Monroe, but he switched to divinity studies.
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 short-lived (13-episodes) 1959 syndicated science fiction TV series World of Giants. The drama 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.:1196-1197
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 Belgian-born newcomer Fargé.
He also guest starred as Arthur Poe in the 1960 Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Wayward Wife."
In 1965 he returned to MGM for the lead in the comedy-adventure film Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965), in which he played Dr. Marsh Tracy, a veterinarian and single father, raising his daughter (played by animal whisperer and Golden Globe winning Cheryl Miller) alone in Kenya. The film was then spun off into Daktari (1966–1969), a television series in which Thompson played the same role. Though the series was shot in California and Africa, 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 the film The Mighty Jungle (1965).
Thompson also was the host and storyteller for the TV anthology series Jambo (1969-1971).:524
Thompson married Barbara Long in 1949, making him a brother-in-law of actor Richard Long, best known for his role as Jarrod Barkley in ABC's The Big Valley. Thompson appeared together with his brother-in-law in the 1955 film Cult of the Cobra.
Partial list from Thompson's 60+ film roles:
- Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout (1944) - Senior Patrol Leader (uncredited)
- The Purple Heart (1944) - Morrison (uncredited)
- Reckless Age (1944) - Roy Connors
- Blonde Fever (1944) - Freddie Bilson
- The Clock (1945) - Bill
- The Valley of Decision (1945) - Ted Scott
- Twice Blessed (1945) - Jimmy
- They Were Expendable (1945) - Ens. 'Snake' Gardner
- Bad Bascomb (1946) - Jimmy Holden
- The Cockeyed Miracle (1946) - Jim Griggs
- The Show-Off (1946) - Joe Fisher
- Gallant Bess (1946) - Tex Barton
- The Secret Heart (1946) - Brandon Reynolds
- The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947) - Ben Mac Bean
- B.F.'s Daughter (1948) - The Sailor
- Homecoming (1948) - Staff Sgt. 'Mac' McKeen
- Words and Music (1948) - Herbert Fields
- Command Decision (1948) - Captain George Washington Bellpepper Lee
- Scene of the Crime (1949) - Announcer at Fol De Rol Club (uncredited)
- Roseanna McCoy (1949) - Tolbert McCoy
- Battleground (1949) - Jim Layton
- Stars In My Crown (1950) - Narrator (voice)
- Mystery Street (1950) - Henry Shanway
- Devil's Doorway (1950) - Rod MacDougall
- Dial 1119 (1950) - Gunther Wyckoff
- The Basketball Fix (1951) - Johnny Long
- The Tall Target (1951) - Lance Beaufort
- My Six Convicts (1952) - Blivens Scott
- The Rose Bowl Story (1952) - Steve Davis
- The Caddy (1953) - Bruce Reeber
- Port of Hell (1954) - Marshall 'Marsh' Walker
- Battle Taxi (1955) - 2nd Lt. Tim Vernon
- Crashout (1955) - Billy Lang
- Cult of the Cobra (1955) - Tom Markel
- To Hell and Back (1955) - Johnson
- Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955) - Wilfred Banning Pendleton III
- Lure of the Swamp (1957) - Simon Lewt
- La Grande caccia (1957) - Marsh Connors
- Fiend Without a Face (1958) - Maj. Cummings
- It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) - Col. Edward Carruthers
- The Secret Man (1958) - Dr. Cliff Mitchell
- First Man into Space (1959) - Cmdr. Charles Ernest Prescott
- Flight of the Lost Balloon (1961) - Dr. Joseph Farady
- No Man Is an Island (1962) - Jonn Sonnenberg
- A Yank in Viet-Nam (1964) - Maj. Benson
- The Mighty Jungle (1964) - Marsh Connors
- Zebra in the Kitchen (1965) - Shaving Man (uncredited)
- Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965) - Dr. Marsh Tracy
- To the Shores of Hell (1966) - Maj. Greg Donahue
- Around the World Under the Sea (1966) - Dr. Orin Hillyard
- George! (1972) - Jim
- The Turning Point (1977) - Carter
- Bog (1979) - Dr. Brad Wednesday
- The Formula (1980) - Geologist #1
- White Dog (1982) - Director
- Dallas: The Early Years (1986, TV movie) - Dr. Ted Johnson
- McBain (1991) - Mr. Rich (final film role)
Partial list from Thompson's 50+ television roles:
- The Public Defender (1954) - Jeff Norton
- World of Giants (1959, 13 episodes) - Mel Hunter
- Angel (1960–1961) - Johnny Smith
- Daktari (1966–1969) - Dr. Marsh Tracy, Father, Animal Activist and Zoologist
- George (1972) - Jim Hunter
- Centennial (1979 miniseries) - Dennis
- Perry Mason (1960) The Case of the Wayward Wife
- Raw, Laurence (2012). Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930Ð1960. McFarland. p. 185. ISBN 9780786490493. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- Todd, John (December 10, 1945). "In Hollywood". Indiana, Tipton. The Tipton Daily Tribune. p. 2. Retrieved March 20, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
- Tucker, David C. (2014). Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television: Thirty Sitcoms That Faded Off Screen. McFarland. pp. 5–11. ISBN 9780786455829. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- Willis, John (2000). Screen World 1993: Comprehensive Pictoral and Statistical Record of the 1992 Movie Season. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 268. ISBN 9781557831750. Retrieved 1 April 2017.