Sidney Blackmer

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Sidney Blackmer
Sidney Blackmer.jpg
Promotional Photo
Born Sidney Alderman Blackmer
(1895-07-13)July 13, 1895
Salisbury, North Carolina, U.S.
Died October 6, 1991(1991-10-06) (aged 96)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Other names S.A. Blackmer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1914–1991
Spouse(s) Lenore Ulric
(m.1928–1939; divorced)
Suzanne Kaaren
(m.1943–1973; his death)
2 sons
Awards North Carolina Award, Fine Arts
Blackmer in the re-issue trailer for the 1934 film The Count of Monte Cristo

Sidney Alderman Blackmer (July 13, 1895 – October 6, 1991) was an American actor.


Blackmer was born and raised in Salisbury, North Carolina, the son of Clara Deroulhac (née Alderman) and Walter Steele Blackmer.[1][2] He started off in an insurance and financial business but gave up on it. While working as a builder's laborer on a new building, he saw a Pearl White serial being filmed and immediately decided to go into acting. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[1] Blackmer went to New York hoping to act on the stage. While in the city, he took jobs and extra work at various film studios at the then motion picture capital, Fort Lee, New Jersey, including a bit part in the highly popular serial, The Perils of Pauline (1914).

He made his Broadway debut in 1917, but his career was interrupted by service in the U.S. military in World War I. After the war, he returned to the theatre and in 1929 returned to motion pictures and went on to be a major character actor in more than 120 films. He won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Actor (Drama) for his role in the Broadway play, Come Back, Little Sheba.

In film, Blackmer is remembered for his more than a dozen portrayals of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and for his role in the Academy Award-winning 1968 Roman Polanski film about urban New York witches, Rosemary's Baby, in which he played an over-solicitous neighbor.

In 1919, Blackmer played a major role in the strike that led to the formation of Actors' Equity Association.

A humanitarian, Blackmer served as the national vice president of the United States Muscular Dystrophy Association. He also helped start up the North Carolina School of the Arts.[3][4] In 1972, he was honored with the North Carolina Award in the Fine Arts category. It is the state of North Carolina's highest civilian award. On his passing in 1991, Blackmer was interred in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Salisbury, North Carolina.

Personal life[edit]

Blackmer was married to actress Lenore Ulric from 1928–1939. His second wife was Suzanne Kaaren to whom he was married from 1943 to his death in 1973. He and Kaaren had two sons.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Sidney Blackmer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1625 Vine Street.

Blackmer House[edit]

John Fulton, for whom nearby Fulton Street was named, built the Federalist style house now called the Fulton-Mock-Blackmer House in Salisbury in 1820. An ad in the January 1, 1821 Western Carolinian said, "The subscriber is now finishing a large and commodious house in this place, on the western side of the town, situated between the Male and Female Academies, which he intends as a boarding-house for young ladies."[5] Fulton died in 1827 and his stepson Maxwell Chambers inherited the property. President Andrew Jackson appointed Fulton's nephew William S. Fulton governor of Arkansas. Girls who attended Salisbury Academy lived in the house, and later the house became a school. Davidson College owned the house at one time. The A.J. Mock family owned the house and added Italianate brackets above the front windows. They also replaced original Federal style windows, of which one remained.

Sidney Blackmer bought the house in 1931 and the family lived there. Blackmer planted cedar trees, a holly tree and a cucumber magnolia. The 5000-square-foot house at Fulton and Innes Streets sat vacant after a December 1, 1984 fire, after which Suzanne Blackmer could not afford a restoration. Four ionic columns were stored, though contractor Al Wilson left the base of one as a guide in case the columns were put back. Wilson also fixed the roof, an action credited with keeping the house from falling down during years of neglect. In 2008, Jonathan Blackmer, son of Sidney and Suzanne, asked that the house either be torn down or restored for "any public use", such as a museum devoted to his father's career.[4][5][6] In June 2012, Historic Salisbury Foundation, which had done some work on the house over the years, agreed to buy it,[7] paying $109,611 to Jonathan Blackmer.[8] Renovation was under way, and in April 2013, the public was allowed inside the house for the first time in 28 years. Architect Joseph K. Oppermann pointed out its "Federal-style windows and shutters, false wood graining on doors and early wallpaper."[6] Blue wallpaper with the photo of Commodore Stephen Decatur was found in the front parlor. Brian Davis, Historic Salisbury Foundation executive director, said the roof would be raised to where it was originally, restoring a full attic. Materials from the historic Grimes Mill, which burned in 2013, were to be used in the house.[5]

In February 2014, Glenn and Beth Dixon bought the house from the Historic Salisbury Foundation for $150,000. Historic preservation tax credits will help the Dixons with the restoration, scheduled to be completed by December. The chimneys will be replaced, but their old bricks will be used as a facade. Otherwise, the couple plans to keep as much of the house's history as possible.[8] The restored 20-foot columns were returned July 14 but still needed capitals.[9]

Partial filmography[edit]

Blackmer also appeared in television roles, such as The Premature Burial episode of TV series Thriller, 1961. He is perhaps best-remembered as Presidential candidate William Lyons Selby in the Outer Limits episode The Hundred Days of the Dragon.


  1. ^ a b Scarvey, Katie (17 January 2010). "Blackmer a star of stage and screen". Salisbury Post. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Residence of W. S. Blackmer". Theo. Buerbaum's Salisbury. Rowan Public Library. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Scarvey, Katie (2 March 2012). "Blackmer home will likely be torn down soon". Salisbury Post. 
  5. ^ a b c Wineka, Mark (6 October 2013). "Slumbering Blackmer House awakens, revealing mysteries of past". Salisbury Post. 
  6. ^ a b "Historic Salisbury Foundation's annual meeting offers look at Fulton-Mock-Blackmer House". Salisbury Post. 19 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Finally, a 'yes' on Blackmer house". Salisbury Post. 23 June 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Wineka, Mark (15 February 2014). "Dixons purchase their 'forever home,' the historic Blackmer House". Salisbury Post. 
  9. ^ Wineka, Mark (15 July 2014). "Columns return to the Blackmer House". Salisbury Post. 

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