Richard Hart (actor)

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Richard Hart
Richard Hart in Desire Me.JPG
in Desire Me (1947)
Born Richard Comstock Hart
(1915-04-14)April 14, 1915
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Died January 2, 1951(1951-01-02) (aged 35)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation Actor
Years active 1943-1951
Spouse(s) Eugenia Getchell (1938-42) (1 son Christopher)
Louise Valery (1945-1951) (his death) 2 daughters Hillary and Sheila
Partner(s) Phyllis Eileen Buswell (1 son; Richard Lee Hart)
Felicia Montealegre (his death)[1]
Children Christopher Rawson
Hillary Hart
Sheila Hart
Richard Lee Hart

Richard Comstock Hart (April 14, 1915 – January 2, 1951) was an American actor, who appeared in film and TV productions, but was most active on stage.

Early years[edit]

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Hart is the son and grandson of Henry Clay Hart and Richard Borden Comstock, leading Rhode Island lawyers. He went to Moses Brown School and Brown University,[2] where he was an all-American soccer player.[3]

Hart first worked as a journalist and at the Gorham Silver Company before becoming seriously interested in acting through a summer theater in Tiverton, Rhode Island.


Early in his career, "Hart earned as he learned by appearing in radio soap operas."[4]


After he gained early experience with the Providence Players,[4] Hart's big break came when, as resident juvenile in a summer theater at the Brattle Playhouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he played John the witch boy, the lead role in a new play trying out there, Dark of the Moon. The Shuberts took it to Broadway (1945),[5] keeping little of the original company except Carol Stone (Barbara Allen) and Hart, who went on to win a Theatre World Award for his debut. A Broadway run of 318 performances then led to a national tour and a contract for Hart with Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

After some work in film, Hart left MGM to go back to the stage. Back on Broadway he appeared in a flop, Leaf and Bough (1949), then took over for Sam Wanamaker in Goodbye, My Fancy (1948-1949) and had a hit as the original Uncle Desmonde in The Happy Time (1950-1951) opposite Claude Dauphin and Eva Gabor.[5]

He also appeared in Pillar to Post (1943-1944).[5]


Hart appeared in four films, three for MGM. Hart's first two were as a leading man: Green Dolphin Street (1947), where he was loved by two sisters, played by Lana Turner and Donna Reed, and Desire Me (1947),[4] as the villain who takes Greer Garson away from Robert Mitchum. Hart's final two films were supporting roles: B.F.'s Daughter (1948), as the jilted first love of the title character, played by Barbara Stanwyck, and Reign of Terror (1949), a Walter Wanger production (released by Eagle-Lion) directed by Anthony Mann.


Hart was seen on television on Silver Theater, Ford Theatre, Masterpiece Playhouse, and Studio One, playing such roles as Eilert Lovborg in Hedda Gabler and Marc Antony in Julius Caesar. He had played four episodes as Ellery Queen in the DuMont Television Network series The Adventures of Ellery Queen—the first to do so on TV—when he died suddenly at age 35 of a heart attack.

Personal life[edit]

Hart married his teenage sweetheart, Eugenia Getchell in 1938, and had one son Christopher. His desire to work in New York City led to a divorce from his wife, who chose to stay in Providence with their son in 1941. He later married actress Louise Valery, whom he had met in Dark of the Moon, and they had two daughters, Hillary and Sheila.[3]

While he was estranged from Louise, "reportedly, in 1947, a son, Richard Lee Hart, was born out of wedlock with Phyllis Eileen Buswell."[3] He was said to have lived with actress Felicia Montealegre during his last four years of life.[3]


Hart died "at French Hospital of a coronary occlusion"[6] January 2, 1951. He was 35.[7]


Year Film Role
1947 Green Dolphin Street William Ozanne
1947 Desire Me Jean Renaud
1948 B.F.'s Daughter Robert S. Tasmin III
1949 Reign of Terror François Barras


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Richard Hart Made His Hit In the Second Broadway Try". New York, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 26, 1945. p. 23. Retrieved January 14, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ a b c d "Richard Hart: Yearning for the Stage". Films of the Golden Age (77): 66. Summer 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Richard Hart, Fresh From Broadway, Gets Garson, Turner in First Films". New York, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 21, 1947. p. 28. Retrieved January 14, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ a b c "Richard Hart". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Richard Hart Is Dead; Stage, Film and Video Actor". Wisconsin, Janesville. Janesville Daily Gazette. January 3, 1951. p. 13. Retrieved January 16, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ "Stage, Screen Actor Richard Hart Dies". Texas, Taylor. The Taylor Daily Press. January 3, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved January 16, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]