Robert Williams (actor)

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Robert Williams
Born (1894-09-15)September 15, 1894
Morganton, North Carolina, U.S.
Died November 3, 1931(1931-11-03) (aged 37)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Peritonitis
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
Nationality American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1914–1931
Spouse(s) Marion Harris (m. 1921; div. 1922)
Alice Lake (m. 1924; div. 1925)
Nina Penn (m.?; 1931)
Children 1

Robert Williams (September 15, 1894 – November 3, 1931) was an American stage and film actor. He is best known for his first, and only, leading role in the 1931 romantic comedy Platinum Blonde, opposite Loretta Young and Jean Harlow. Williams died of peritonitis three days after the film's premiere.


Born in Morganton, North Carolina in 1894 (some sources state 1897 or 1899),[1][2] Williams ran away from home at the age 11 to join a tent show. He later worked on showboats in Mississippi before making his way to New York. After appearing in several stage productions, Williams landed a role in Eyes of Youth, starring Marjorie Rambeau. The role boosted his career and gained him notice. He put his career on hold to join the United States Army where he served in 166th Infantry Regiment during World War I. After the war, Williams returned to the United States and resumed his acting career. In 1922, he made his Broadway stage debut in the popular stage comedy Abie's Irish Rose. He also appeared in productions of That French Lady, Scarlet Pages, and Love, Honor and Betray.[3]

After appearing as "Johnnie Coles" in the play Rebound in 1930, Williams was chosen by director Edward H. Griffith to reprise the role in the 1931 film version. He received favorable reviews for his work in the film and followed with a supporting role in Devotion, which was also released in 1931.[3] Later that same year, Williams was cast in his first and only leading role in the romantic comedy film Platinum Blonde, starring Loretta Young and Jean Harlow. It was his final onscreen appearance.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Williams was married three times; his first marriage was to singer Marion Harris in 1921 with whom he had a daughter, Mary Ellen.[5] Williams and Harris divorced in 1922. In March 1924, he married actress Alice Lake. They separated three times before divorcing in 1925.[6] At the time of his death, Williams was married to actress Nina Penn.[7]


On November 3, 1931, three days after the premiere of Platinum Blonde,[8] Williams died of peritonitis at Hollywood Hospital after undergoing two operations for acute appendicitis the previous week.[5][9] He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[10]

Broadway credits[edit]

Date Production Role
May 23, 1922 - October 1, 1927 Abie's Irish Rose Abraham Levy
December 22, 1924 - February 1925 Milgrim's Progress Sam Milgrim
September 17 - September 1926 Kept Norman Henderson
March 15 - April 1927 That French Lady Fred Kraft
September 19 - October 1927 The Trial of Mary Dugan Court Attendant
September 26, 1927 - April 1928 Jimmie's Women Jimmie Turner
September 9 - November 1929 Scarlet Pages Robert Lawrence
February 3 - May 1930 Rebound Johnnie Coles
March 12 - April 1930 Love, Honor and Betray The Young Man


Year Title Role Notes
1914 The Vengeance of Winona Kite – Black Dog's Accomplice
1920 Thoughtless Women The Son
1928 Two Masters
1931 The Common Law Sam
1931 Rebound Johnnie Coles
1931 Devotion Norman Harrington
1931 Platinum Blonde Stew Smith


  1. ^ Films in Review, Volume 30. 30. National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 1979. p. 63. 
  2. ^ Films and Filming, Volume 22. 22. Hansom Books. 1975. p. 24. 
  3. ^ a b Krug, Karl (November 11, 1931). "The Show Shops". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ LaSalle, Mick (2002). Dangerous Ben: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man. Macmillan. p. 123. ISBN 0-312-28311-3. 
  5. ^ a b "Death Claims Robert Williams; Film Actor". Reading Eagle. November 4, 1931. p. 22. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Alice Lake Wants Divorce; Says Bob Williams Is Cruel". Providence News. May 28, 1925. p. 19. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ Merrick, Mollie (November 16, 1931). "Death Cancels Star's Contract". The Calgary Daily Herald. p. 15. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ Burr, Ty (July 2, 1992). "Platinum Blonde". Retrieved June 3, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Robert Williams, Movie Actor, Dies". Schenectady Gazette. November 4, 1931. p. 1. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Williams Rites Will Be Simple". The Los Angeles Times. November 6, 1931. p. A8. 

External links[edit]