Robert Cummings, 1956
|Born||Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings
June 9, 1910
Joplin, Missouri, USA
|Died||December 2, 1990
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
|Cause of death||Renal failure; pneumonia|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California|
|Other names||Bob Cummings
Blade Stanhope Conway
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts|
Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings, known as Bob Cummings (June 9, 1910 – December 2, 1990), was an American film and television actor known mainly for his roles in comedy films such as The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) and Princess O'Rourke (1943), but was also effective in dramatic films, especially two of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, Saboteur (1942) and Dial M for Murder (1954). Cummings received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Single Performance in 1955. On February 8, 1960, he received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture and television industries. The motion picture star is at 6816 Hollywood Boulevard, the television star is on 1718 Vine Street.
Cummings was born in Joplin, Missouri, a son of Dr. Charles Clarence Cummings and the former Ruth Annabelle Kraft. His father was a surgeon, who was part of the original medical staff of St. John's Hospital in Joplin. He was the founder of the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital in Webb City, Missouri. Cummings' mother was an ordained minister of the Science of Mind.
While attending Joplin High School, Cummings was taught to fly by his godfather, Orville Wright, the aviation pioneer. His first solo was on March 3, 1927. During high school, Cummings gave Joplin residents rides in his aircraft for $5 per person. When the government began licensing flight instructors, Cummings was issued flight instructor certificate No. 1, making him the first official flight instructor in the United States.
Cummings studied briefly at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, but his love of flying caused him to transfer to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He studied aeronautical engineering for a year before he dropped out because of financial reasons, his family having lost heavily in the 1929 stock market crash. Since the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City paid its male actors $14 a week, Cummings decided to study there.
Cummings studied drama for two years before appearing on Broadway in 1931. As British actors were in demand, Cummings traveled to England and learned to mimic an upper-class English accent. He had a brief career on Broadway under the name Blade Stanhope Conway, posing as an Englishman.
In 1933, Cummings met and two years later married his second wife, Vivi Janiss, a native of Nebraska, with whom he appeared (billed as "Brice Hutchins") in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1934. In 1934, he moved to Hollywood, where he acted at first under the name "Bruce Hutchens", having assumed the persona of a wealthy Texan. He made his film debut the following year in The Virginia Judge.
Cummings then began to use his own name, acting throughout the 1930s as a contract player in a number of supporting roles.
He achieved stardom in 1939 in Three Smart Girls Grow Up, opposite Deanna Durbin. His many film comedies include: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) with Jean Arthur, Moon Over Miami (1941), and The Bride Wore Boots (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck.
Cummings gave memorable performances in three notable dramas. In Kings Row (1942), he played the lead role, Parris Mitchell, alongside friend Ronald Reagan, Claude Rains, Ann Sheridan and an all-star cast. In spite of its mixed critical reaction, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.
Cummings starred in the spy thriller Saboteur (1942) with Priscilla Lane and Norman Lloyd. He played Barry Kane, an aircraft worker wrongfully accused of espionage, trying to clear his name. Cummings starred in another Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder (1954), as Mark Halliday, co-starring with Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.
World War II
In November 1942, Cummings joined the United States Army Air Forces. During World War II, he served as a flight instructor. After the war, Cummings served as a pilot in the United States Air Force Reserve, where he achieved the rank of Captain. Cummings would play aircraft pilots in several of his postwar film roles.
In 1945 he starred in You Came Along (1945), with a screenplay by Ayn Rand. The Army Air Forces pilot Cummings played ("Bob Collins") died off camera, but was resurrected ten years later for his television show.
In 1947, Cummings had reportedly earned $110,000 in the past 12 months.
Cummings was chosen by producer John Wayne as his co-star to play airline pilot Captain Sullivan in The High and the Mighty, partly due to Cummings' flying experience; however, director William A. Wellman overruled Wayne and hired Robert Stack for the part.
In 1955 Cummings announced he would form his own production company, Laurel (named after his daughter and the street he lived in, Laurel Way). He intended to make a film called The Damned from a novel by John D. MacDonald directed by Frank Tashlin. However no film resulted.
Cummings made his mark in the CBS Radio network's dramatic serial titled Those We Love, which ran from 1938 to 1945. Cummings played the role of David Adair, opposite Richard Cromwell, Francis X. Bushman, and Nan Grey. He was also one of the four stars featured in the short-run radio version of Four Star Playhouse.
During the 1970s for over 10 years Cummings traveled the US performing in dinner theaters and short stints in plays while living in an Airstream Travel Trailer. He relayed those experiences in the written introduction he provided for the book "AIRSTREAM" written by Robert Landau and James Phillippi in 1984.
Cummings began a long career on television in 1952, starring in the comedy My Hero. He received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his portrayal of "Juror Number Eight", in the first televised performance of Twelve Angry Men, a live production that aired in 1954 (Henry Fonda played the same role in the feature film adaptation). Cummings was one of the anchors on ABC's live broadcast of the opening day of Disneyland on July 17, 1955.
In 1955 Cummings announced he was setting up his own production company, Laurel, named after his daughter Laurel Ann . From 1955 through 1959, Cummings starred on a successful NBC sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show (list of episodes) (known as Love That Bob in reruns), in which he played Bob Collins, an ex–World War II pilot who became a successful professional photographer. As a bachelor in 1950s Los Angeles, the character Bob Collins considered himself to be quite the ladies' man. This sitcom was noted for some very risqué humor for its time. A popular feature of the program was Cummings' portrayal of his elderly grandfather. His co-stars were Rosemary DeCamp, as his sister, Margaret MacDonald, Dwayne Hickman, as his nephew, Chuck MacDonald and Ann B. Davis, in her first television success, as his assistant Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz. Cummings also was a guest on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood.
The New Bob Cummings Show (list of episodes) followed on CBS for one season, from 1961 to 1962. Cummings is depicted as the owner and pilot of Aerocar N102D and this aircraft was featured on his show.
In 1964–65 Cummings starred in another CBS sitcom, My Living Doll (list of episodes), which co-starred Julie Newmar as Rhoda the robot. Cummings' last significant role was the 1973 television movie Partners in Crime, co-starring Lee Grant. He also appeared in 1979 as Elliott Smith, the father of Fred Grandy's Gopher on ABC's The Love Boat.
Robert Cummings' last public appearance was on Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Special in 1990.
Cummings married five times and fathered seven children. He remained an avid aviator and owned a number of planes (all named "Spinach"). He was a staunch advocate of natural foods and a healthful diet and in 1960 wrote a book, Stay Young and Vital, which focused upon Health foods and exercise.
Despite his interest in health, Cummings was a methamphetamine addict from the mid-1950s until the end of his life. Cummings began receiving injections from Max Jacobson, the notorious "Dr. Feelgood", in 1954 during a trip to New York to star in the TV production of Twelve Angry Men.[dubious ]
Rose and Cummings' friends Rosemary Clooney and José Ferrer recommended the doctor to Cummings, who was complaining of a lack of energy. While Jacobson insisted that his injections contained only "vitamins, sheep sperm and monkey gonads", they actually contained a substantial dose of methamphetamine.
Cummings continued to use a mixture provided by Jacobson, eventually becoming a patient of Jacobson's son Thomas, who was based in Los Angeles, and later injecting himself. The changes in Cummings' personality caused by the euphoria of the drug and subsequent depression damaged his career and led to an intervention by his friend, television host Art Linkletter. The intervention was not successful, and Cummings' drug abuse and subsequent career collapse were factors in his divorce from his third wife Mary, and his divorce from his fourth wife, Gina Fong.
After Jacobson was forced out of business in the 1970s, Cummings developed his own drug connections based in the Bahamas. Suffering from Parkinson's Disease, he was forced to move into homes for indigent older actors in Hollywood.
On December 2, 1990, Cummings died of kidney failure and complications from pneumonia at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.
- The Roof (1931)
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 (1934)
- Faithfully Yours (1951)
- The Wayward Stork (1966)
- Seasoned Greetings (1933, short subject) as Lita's Beau / Husband in Sunny Weather Number (uncredited)
- Sons of the Desert (1933) as Steamship Announcement Witness (uncredited) (credited as "Blade Stanhope Conway")
- So Red the Rose (1935) as George Pendleton
- The Virginia Judge (1935) as Jim Preston
- Millions in the Air (1935) as Jimmy
- Desert Gold (1936) as Fordyce 'Ford' Mortimer
- Forgotten Faces (1936) as Clinton Faraday
- Border Flight (1936) as Lt. Bob Dixon
- Three Cheers for Love (1936) as Jimmy Tuttle
- Hollywood Boulevard (1936) as Jay Wallace
- The Accusing Finger (1936) as Jimmy Ellis
- Hideaway Girl (1936) as Mike Winslow
- Arizona Mahoney (1936) as Phillip Randall
- The Last Train from Madrid (1937) as Juan Ramos
- Souls at Sea (1937) as George Martin
- Sophie Lang Goes West (1937) as Curley Griffin
- Wells Fargo (1937) as Dan Trimball - Prospector
- College Swing (1938) as Radio Announcer
- You and Me (1938) as Jim
- The Texans (1938) as Alan Sanford
- Touchdown, Army (1938) as Cadet Jimmy Howal
- I Stand Accused (1938) as Frederick A. Davis
- Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) as Harry Loren
- The Under-Pup (1939) as Dennis King
- Rio (1939) as Bill Gregory
- Everything Happens at Night (1939) as Ken Morgan
- Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939) as Scotty Hamilton
- And One Was Beautiful (1940) as Ridley Crane
- Private Affairs (1940) as Jimmy Nolan
- Spring Parade (1940) as Corporal Harry Marten
- One Night in the Tropics (1940) as Steve Harper
- Free and Easy (1941) as Max Clemington
- The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) as Joe
- Moon Over Miami (1941) as Jeffrey Boulton
- It Started with Eve (1941) as Jonathan 'Johnny' Reynolds Jr.
- Kings Row (1942) as Parris Mitchell
- Saboteur (1942) as Barry
- Between Us Girls (1942) as Jimmy Blake
- Forever and a Day (1943) as Ned Trimble
- Flesh and Fantasy (1943) as Michael (Episode 1)
- Princess O'Rourke (1943) as Eddie O'Rourke
- You Came Along (1945) as Maj. Bob Collins
- The Bride Wore Boots (1946) as Jeff Warren
- The Chase (1946) as Chuck Scott
- Heaven Only Knows (1947) as Michael, aka Mike
- The Lost Moment (1947) as Lewis Venable
- Sleep, My Love (1948) as Bruce Elcott
- Let's Live a Little (1948) as Duke Crawford
- The Accused (1949) as Warren Ford
- Reign of Terror aka The Black Book (1949) as Charles D'Aubigny
- Free for All (1949) as Christopher Parker
- Tell It to the Judge (1949) as Peter B. 'Pete' Webb
- Paid in Full (1950) as Bill Prentice
- The Petty Girl (1950) as George Petty aka Andrew 'Andy' Tapp
- For Heaven's Sake (1950) as Jeff Bolton
- The Barefoot Mailman (1951) as Sylvanus Hurley
- The First Time (1952) as Joe Bennet
- Marry Me Again (1953) as Bill
- Lucky Me (1954) as Dick Carson
- Dial M for Murder (1954) as Mark Halliday
- How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955) as Fillmore 'Wedge' Wedgewood
- My Geisha (1962) as Bob Moore
- Beach Party (1963) as Professor Sutwell
- The Carpetbaggers (1964) as Dan Pierce
- What a Way to Go! (1964) as Dr. Victor Stephanson
- Promise Her Anything (1966) as Dr. Philip Brock
- Stagecoach (1966) as Henry Gatewood
- Five Golden Dragons (1967) as Bob Mitchell
- My Hero (1951–1952) as Robert S. Beanblossom
- Justice ("The Crisis") (1954)
- Disneyland (1954) as Himself
- Studio One in Hollywood (1954–1956) as George Lumley / Juror #8
- The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show ("A Marital Mix-Up") (1957) as Bob Collins / Bob Cummings
- General Electric Theater ("Too Good with a Gun") (1957) as Russ Baker
- The Bob Cummings Show (1955–1959) as Bob Collins / Grandpa Josh Collins / Josh Collins
- The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957–1960) ("The Ricardos Go To Japan") (1959) as Himself
- Twilight Zone ("King Nine Will Not Return") (1960) as Capt. James Embry
- Zane Grey Theater ("The Last Bugle") (1960) as Lt. Charles Gatewood
- The New Bob Cummings Show (1961–1962) as Bob Carson
- My Living Doll (1964–1965) as Dr. Robert McDonald
- The Flying Nun ("Speak the Speech, I Pray You") (1969) as Father Walter Larson
- Gidget Grows Up (1969) as Russ Lawrence
- Love, American Style (1969–1973) as Walding (segment "Love and the Secret Spouse") / Grandpa (segment "Love and the Second Time") / Bert Palmer (segment "Love and the Pill")
- Hollywood Squares (1970) as Guest Appearance
- Green Acres ("Rest and Relaxation") (1970) as Mort Warner
- Here Come the Brides ("The She-Bear") (1970) as Jack Crosse
- Bewitched ("Samantha and the Troll") (1971) as Roland Berkley
- Partners in Crime (1973) as Ralph Elsworth
- The Love Boat ("Third Wheel/Grandmother's Day/Second String Mom") (1979) as Eliott Smith
- Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color ("Walt Disney World's 15th Anniversary Celebration") (1986) as Host / Narrator / Himself
- Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Special (1990) as Himself
- Screen Directors Playhouse ("Bachelor Mother" (1951) 
- Cavalcade of America ("Going Up") (1952)
- Critchlow 2013, p. 130.
- Lyon et al. 1987, p. 164.
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- Wise and Wilderson 2000, p. 189.
- "Robert Cummings | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- Christensen 1999, p. 225.
- Greenwood 1960, p. 45.
- Tucker 2011, p. 185.
- Ashbu 2006, p. 265.
- "Cummings, Robert Orville ('Bob'), Capt." Togetherweserved.com. Retrieved: March 15, 2015.
- THEATER MOGUL WITH $568,143 TOP '45 EARNER: Betty Grable's $208,000 Leads Women Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 26 Aug 1947: 5
- McGivern 2006, p. 82.
- Drama: Indie Setups Announced by Cummings, Chandler; Hello, Barry Fitzgerald Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Nov 1955: 41.
- "AIRSTREAM" written by Robert Landau and James Phillippi, published in 1984 by Gibbs M. Smith Inc and Peregrine Smith Books, Salt Lake City
- Drama: Indie Setups Announced by Cummings, Chandler; Hello, Barry Fitzgerald Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Nov 1955: 41.
- Gilmore 2006.
- Maltin 1994, p. 189.
- Woog 1991, p. 192.
- Flint, Peter B. "Robert Cummings is dead at 82; Debonair actor in TV and films." The New York Times, December 4, 1990.
- Lertzman and Birnes 2013, pp. 83–89.
- Lertzman and Birnes 2013, pp. 79–82.
- "Bob Cummings (1910 - 1990) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Dr Charles C Cummings (1868 - 1932) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Ruth Kraft Cummings (1876 - 1950) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27.
- "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest. 39 (2): 32–39. Spring 2013.
- Kirby, Walter (April 27, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved May 9, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Ashbu, LeRoy. With Amusement For All. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. ISBN 978-0-81314-107-7.
- Christensen, Lawrence O., ed. Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-82621-222-1.
- Critchlow, Donald T. When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-107-65028-2.
- Gilmore, Susan. "Tired of the commute? All you need is $3.5 million". The Seattle Times, September 5, 2006.
- Greenwood, James R. "Meet Bob Cummings...Pilot, Actor, Businessman". Flying, 66:3, March 1960, pp. 44–46, 54, 56.
- Lertzman, Richard A. and William J. Birnes. Dr. Feelgood: The Shocking Story of the Doctor Who May Have Changed History by Treating and Drugging JFK, Marilyn, Elvis, and Other Prominent Figures. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013. ISBN 978-1-62087-589-6.
- Lyon, Christopher, James Vinson, Susan Doll and Greg S. Faller. The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. New York: St. James Press, 1987. ISBN 978-1-55862-041-4.
- Maltin, Leonard. "Robert Cummings". Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.
- McGivern, Carolyn. The Lost Films of John Wayne. Nashville, Kentucky: Cumberland House, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58182-567-1.
- Tucker, David C. Eve Arden: A Chronicle of All Film, Television, Radio and Stage Performances. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland& Company, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-8810-0.
- Wise, James E. and Paul W. Wilderson. Stars in Khaki: Movie Actors in the Army and the Air Services. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-55750-958-1.
- Woog, Adam. Sexless Oysters and Self-Tipping Hats: 100 Years of Invention in the Pacific Northwest. Sasquatch Books, 1991. ISBN 978-0-91236-547-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Cummings.|
- Robert Cummings at the Internet Movie Database
- Robert Cummings at AllMovie
- Robert Cummings at the Internet Broadway Database
- Robert Cummings at Find a Grave
- "Bob Cummings Biography."
- Finding aid author: Garrett Schroath (2014). "Robert Cummings papers". Prepared for the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Provo, UT. Retrieved May 16, 2016.