Robert Montgomery (actor)
Montgomery in April 1939
|Born||Henry Montgomery, Jr.
May 21, 1904
Fishkill Landing, New York (now Beacon, New York), U.S.
|Died||September 27, 1981
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Bryan Allen
(m. 1928; div. 1950)
Elizabeth Grant Harkness
Robert Montgomery, Jr.
Montgomery was born Henry Montgomery, Jr. in Fishkill Landing, New York (now Beacon, New York), to Henry Montgomery, Sr. and his wife, Mary Weed Montgomery (née Barney). His early childhood was one of privilege, as his father was president of the New York Rubber Company. His father committed suicide in 1922 by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, and the family's fortune was gone.
Montgomery settled in New York City to try his hand at writing and acting. He established a stage career, and became popular enough to turn down an offer to appear opposite Vilma Bánky in the film This Is Heaven (1929). Sharing a stage with George Cukor gave him an entry to Hollywood and a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he debuted in So This Is College (also 1929). One writer claimed that Montgomery was able to establish himself because he "proceeded with confidence, agreeable with everyone, eager and willing to take suggestions". During the production of So This Is College, Montgomery learned from and questioned crew members from several departments, including sound crew, electricians, set designers, camera crew, and film editors. In a later interview, he confessed, "it showed [him] that making a motion picture is a great co-operative project." So This Is College gained him attention as Hollywood's latest newcomer, and he was put in one production after another, his popularity growing steadily.
Montgomery initially played exclusively in comedy roles, but portrayed a character in his first drama film in The Big House (1930). MGM was initially reluctant to assign him in such a role, until "his earnestness, and his convincing arguments, with demonstrations of how he would play the character" won him the assignment. From The Big House on, he was in constant demand. Appearing as Greta Garbo's romantic interest in Inspiration (1930) started him toward stardom with a rush. Norma Shearer chose him to star opposite her in The Divorcee (1930), Strangers May Kiss (1931), and Private Lives (1931), which led him to stardom. In 1932, Montgomery starred opposite Tallulah Bankhead in Faithless, though the film was not a success. During this time, Montgomery appeared in the original pre-Code film version of When Ladies Meet (1933), which starred Ann Harding and Myrna Loy. In 1935, Montgomery became President of the Screen Actors Guild, and was elected again in 1946.
After World War II broke out in Europe in September, 1939, and while the United States was still officially neutral, Montgomery enlisted in London for American field service and drove ambulances in France until the Dunkirk evacuation. He then returned to Hollywood and addressed a massive rally on the MGM lot for the American Red Cross in July 1940. Montgomery returned to playing light comedy roles, such as Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) with Carole Lombard. He continued his search for dramatic roles. For his role as Joe Pendleton, a boxer and pilot in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Montgomery was nominated for an Oscar a second time. After the U.S. entered World War II in December, 1941, he joined the United States Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander, and served on the USS Barton (DD-722) which was part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
In 1945, Montgomery returned to Hollywood, making his uncredited directing debut with They Were Expendable, where he directed some of the PT boat scenes when director John Ford was unable to work for health reasons. Montgomery's first credited film as director and his final film for MGM was the film noir Lady in the Lake (1947), in which he also starred, which received mixed reviews. Adapted from Raymond Chandler's detective novel and sanitized for the censorship of the day, the film is unusual because it was filmed entirely from Marlowe's vantage point. Montgomery only appeared on camera a few times, three times in a mirror reflection. He also directed and starred in Ride the Pink Horse (1947), also a film noir.
Active in Republican politics and concerned about communist influence in the entertainment industry, Montgomery was a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. The next year, 1948, Montgomery hosted the Academy Awards. He hosted an Emmy Award-winning television series, Robert Montgomery Presents, which ran from 1950 to 1957. The Gallant Hours (1960), a film Montgomery directed and co-produced with its star, his friend James Cagney, was the last film or television production with which he was connected in any capacity, as actor, director, or producer. In 1954, Montgomery took an unpaid position as consultant and coach to President Eisenhower, advising him on how to look his best in his television appearances before the nation. A pioneering media consultant, Montgomery reportedly had an office in the White House during this time.
Montgomery has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for movies at 6440 Hollywood Boulevard, and another for television at 1631 Vine Street.
His first marriage, in April 1928, was to actress Elizabeth Bryan Allen (December 26, 1904 – June 28, 1992), sister of Martha-Bryan Allen. The couple had three children: Martha Bryan, who died at 14 months of age in 1931; Elizabeth (April 15, 1933 – May 18, 1995); and Robert, Jr. (January 6, 1936 – February 7, 2000). They divorced on December 5, 1950. His second wife was Elizabeth "Buffy" Grant Harkness, whom he married on December 9, 1950, four days after his divorce from Allen was finalized.
Montgomery died of cancer on September 27, 1981, at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. His body was cremated and the ashes were given to the family. His two surviving children, Elizabeth and Robert Montgomery, Jr., both died of cancer, as well.
|1929||Single Standard, TheThe Single Standard||Extra||Uncredited|
|1929||Three Live Ghosts||William Foster|
|1929||So This Is College||Biff|
|1929||Their Own Desire||John Douglas Cheever|
|1930||Free and Easy||Larry|
|1930||Divorcee, TheThe Divorcee||Don|
|1930||Big House, TheThe Big House||Kent Marlowe|
|1930||Sins of the Children, TheThe Sins of the Children||Nick Higginson|
|1930||Our Blushing Brides||Tony Jardine|
|1930||Love in the Rough||Jack Kelly|
|1930||War Nurse||Lt. Wally O'Brien|
|1931||Easiest Way, TheThe Easiest Way||Jack 'Johnny' Madison|
|1931||Strangers May Kiss||Steve|
|1931||Shipmates||John Paul Jones|
|1931||Man in Possession, TheThe Man in Possession||Raymond Dabney|
|1931||Private Lives||Elyot Chase|
|1932||Lovers Courageous||Willie Smith|
|1932||But the Flesh Is Weak||Max Clement|
|1932||Letty Lynton||Hale Darrow|
|1932||Blondie of the Follies||Larry Belmont|
|1932||Faithless||William 'Bill' Wade|
|1933||Hell Below||Lieut. Thomas Knowlton, USN|
|1933||Made on Broadway||Jeff Bidwell|
|1933||When Ladies Meet||Jimmie Lee|
|1933||Another Language||Victor Hallam|
|1933||Night Flight||Auguste Pellerin|
|1934||Fugitive Lovers||Paul Porter, aka Stephen Blaine|
|1934||The Mystery of Mr. X||Nicholas Revel|
|1934||Hide-Out||Jonathan 'Lucky' Wilson|
|1934||Forsaking All Others||Dillon 'Dill'/'Dilly' Todd|
|1935||Biography of a Bachelor Girl||Richard 'Dickie' Kurt|
|1935||Vanessa: Her Love Story||Benjamin Herries|
|1935||No More Ladies||Sheridan Warren|
|1936||Petticoat Fever||Dascom Dinsmore|
|1936||Trouble for Two||Prince Florizel||Alternative title: The Suicide Club|
|1936||Piccadilly Jim||James 'Piccadilly Jim' Crocker, Jr.|
|1937||Last of Mrs. Cheyney, TheThe Last of Mrs. Cheyney||Lord Arthur Dilling|
|1937||Night Must Fall||Danny||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1937||Ever Since Eve||Freddie Matthews|
|1937||Live, Love and Learn||Bob Graham|
|1938||The First Hundred Years||David Conway|
|1938||Yellow Jack||John O'Hara|
|1938||Three Loves Has Nancy||Malcolm 'Mal' Niles|
|1939||Fast and Loose||Joel Sloane|
|1940||Earl of Chicago, TheThe Earl of Chicago||Robert Kilmount|
|1940||Busman's Honeymoon||Lord Peter Wimsey||Alternative title: Haunted Honeymoon|
|1940||Door with Seven Locks, TheThe Door with Seven Locks||Craig the butler||Alternative title: Chamber of Horrors|
|1941||Mr. & Mrs. Smith||David Smith|
|1941||Rage in Heaven||Philip Monrell|
|1941||Here Comes Mr. Jordan||Joe Pendleton||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1941||Unfinished Business||Tommy Duncan|
|1945||They Were Expendable||Lt. John Brickley||Also directed during illness of John Ford (uncredited)|
|1947||Lady in the Lake||Phillip Marlowe||Also directed film|
|1947||Ride the Pink Horse||Lucky Gagin||Also directed film|
|1948||Saxon Charm, TheThe Saxon Charm||Matt Saxon|
|1948||June Bride||Carey Jackson|
|1949||Once More, My Darling||Collier 'Collie' Laing||Also directed film|
|1950||Your Witness||Adam Heyward||Also directed film|
|1960||Gallant Hours, TheThe Gallant Hours||Narrator||Also directed film|
|1950–57||Robert Montgomery Presents||Host|
|1958||Navy Log||Host||Episode: "The Butchers of Kapsan"|
|1942||Philip Morris Playhouse||Man Hunt|
|1948||Suspense||The Black Curtain|
- Variety obituary, September 30, 1981.
- R.E. Lee. "Robert Montgomery Biography". The Earl of Hollywood. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
- "Elizabeth Montgomery's Family Tree", Bewitched.net; retrieved August 4, 2010.
- "3 Drwn in Hudson ..." The New York Times, July 3, 1922.
- "Garbo's Lover in 'Inspiration' Was Lucky Role for Montgomery". The Milwaukee Journal, March 22, 1945, p. 1.
- Lion of Hollywood (2005) by Scott Eyman, p. 279
- "Behind the Scenes: Robert Montgomery." The New York Times, March 1, 1956.
- "Elizabeth Allen a Bride". The New York Times, April 15, 1928, p. 27.
- "R. Montgomery Marries". The New York Times, December 12, 1950, p. 47.
- Pilato 2012, p. XV.
- "Radio Highlights". Harrisburg Telegraph. July 31, 1942. p. 11. Retrieved August 18, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Radio's Golden Age". Nostalgia Digest. 38 (3): 40–41. Summer 2012.
- Pilato, Herbie J. Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012. ISBN 978-1-58979-749-9.
- Wise, James. Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55750-937-9. OCLC 36824724
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