Robert Wilcox (actor)

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Robert Wilcox
Born (1910-05-10)May 10, 1910
Rochester, New York
Died June 11, 1955(1955-06-11) (aged 45)
New York City, New York
Resting place Riverside Cemetery in Rochester
Occupation Actor
Years active 1936–1954
Spouse(s) Florence Rice
(m. 1937–1939; divorced)
Diana Barrymore
(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.

Personal life[edit]

He was born in Rochester NY, the son of Dr. Roscoe Squires Wilcox of Rochester, who died when Wilcox was 16.[1][2][3] He attended Nazareth Hall Academy and John Marshall High School in Rochester.[3]

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.[4] He married Diana Barrymore in 1950.[5] The five year marriage, which ended with his death, was stormy, with repeated separations, reconciliations and police calls for domestic disturbances.[6] Barrymore chronicled their bouts with alcoholism in her 1957 autobiography, Too Much, Too Soon, which she dedicated to him.[1]

Acting career[edit]

He started his career with a Buffalo, NY Community Theater Group.[3] 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.[3][4] Wilcox worked in eighteen Hollywood movies before World War II, starting with the role of the Intern in Let Them Live.[7][8] (Another source states that he played the romantic lead in 26 films, before going into the service for World War II.[3]) He was a contract player with Universal Studios, unhappy with his typecasting in "cops and robbers" roles.[8] He is perhaps best known for playing Bob Wayne and his alter ego, "The Copperhead" in the 1940 movie serial Mysterious Doctor Satan.[9]

He was inducted into the United States Army February 27, 1942.[10] 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.[1][8][11] 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.[8] Wilcox, according to a contemporary news report, was considering whether go back to Hollywood or to work in professional theater.[8] Only four of the twenty-five film credits on IMDb are dated after January 1946;[12] his post-war work was mostly on the stage.[6]

His last stage performance was in the road show Pajama Top, costarring his wife, Diana Barrymore.[13] (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.[3]

Death[edit]

Wilcox died of a heart attack on June 11, 1955, while riding a train from New York City to Rochester to visit his mother.[6][13] A porter discovered his body in a Pullman berth when he tried to wake the actor at the Rochester train station stop.[13] He was 45 years old. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c IMDb mini-biography of Robert Wilcox|
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ a b c d e f 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
  4. ^ a b Wollstein, Hans J. "Excerpt from Allmovie hosted on Fandango". Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  5. ^ "IMDb mini-biography of Diana Barrymore". Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  6. ^ a b c [1] Obituary. Sarasota Herald Tribune June 13, 1955, pg. 12]
  7. ^ IMDb Let Them Live
  8. ^ a b c d e 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
  9. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Doctor-Satan-Eduardo-Ciannelli/dp/6300208788
  10. ^ New York Times, February 28, 1942
  11. ^ "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
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ a b c New York Times obituary, June 12, 1955

External links[edit]