Robert Wilcox (actor)
May 10, 1910|
Rochester, New York
|Died||June 11, 1955
New York City, New York
|Resting place||Riverside Cemetery in Rochester|
(m. 1937–1939; divorced)
(m. 1950–1955; his death)
Robert Wilcox (May 19, 1910 – June 11, 1955) was an American film and theater actor of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
He was married twice. His first wife was Florence Rice, daughter of sportswriter Grantland Rice, whom he married in 1937 and divorced two years later. He married Diana Barrymore in 1950. The five year marriage, which ended with his death, was stormy, with repeated separations, reconciliations and police calls for domestic disturbances. Barrymore chronicled their bouts with alcoholism in her 1957 autobiography, Too Much, Too Soon, which she dedicated to him.
He started his career with a Buffalo, NY Community Theater Group. His career began in earnest in 1936 after being signed by a Universal Pictures talent scout while playing Duke Mantee in a summer-stock production of The Petrified Forest. Wilcox worked in eighteen Hollywood movies before World War II, starting with the role of the Intern in Let Them Live. (Another source states that he played the romantic lead in 26 films, before going into the service for World War II.) He was a contract player with Universal Studios, unhappy with his typecasting in "cops and robbers" roles. He is perhaps best known for playing Bob Wayne and his alter ego, "The Copperhead" in the 1940 movie serial Mysterious Doctor Satan.
He was inducted into the United States Army February 27, 1942. He served thirty-eight months in the United States Army during World War II, rising from private to the rank of captain, and seeing action in Belgium, France and Germany. Following the war, he returned to Rochester, and appeared in an amateur production of Soldier's Wife, a quiet comedy by Rose Franken about a veteran returning from the Pacific, presented in January 1946 by the Rochester Community Players. Wilcox, according to a contemporary news report, was considering whether go back to Hollywood or to work in professional theater. Only four of the twenty-five film credits on IMDb are dated after January 1946; his post-war work was mostly on the stage.
His last stage performance was in the road show Pajama Top, costarring his wife, Diana Barrymore. (He was earlier married to, and divorced from, actress Florence Rice.) The production, an English translation of the French comic success, Moumou, was directed Leonard Altobell (also a native of Rochester) and opened its national tour at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester November 8, 1954.
Wilcox died of a heart attack on June 11, 1955, while riding a train from New York City to Rochester to visit his mother. A porter discovered his body in a Pullman berth when he tried to wake the actor at the Rochester train station stop. He was 45 years old. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery.
- IMDb mini-biography of Robert Wilcox|
- Letter to the Editor of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, January 1946; archived in the 1944-1946 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
- Article by Hamilton B. Allen, Rochester Times Union newspaper, October 27, 1954; archived in the 1954-1955 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
- Wollstein, Hans J. "Excerpt from Allmovie hosted on Fandango". Retrieved 2007-10-20.
- "IMDb mini-biography of Diana Barrymore". Retrieved 2007-10-20.
-  Obituary. Sarasota Herald Tribune June 13, 1955, pg. 12]
- IMDb Let Them Live
- Article, Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, Rochester NY: "Footlights? Film? Actor must decide", January 1946; archived in the 1944-1946 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
- New York Times, February 28, 1942
- "Wilcox, Back from War, Takes Lead Role in "Soldier's Wife"; newspaper article January 1946, archived in the 1944-1946 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
- New York Times obituary, June 12, 1955