Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Born Today February 2: Frank Albertson


Born Francis Healey Albertson in Fergus Falls, Minnesota; his family moved around quite a bit, before settling in Los Angeles.  When settled there, young Frank, as he was affectionately known, found work in as an laboratory assistant at a photography shop--this resulted in contacts in the newly established studio system(s) in Hollywood.  In 1922, at the age of 13, he was already at work at one studio (most probably Paramount, given his film debut the following year).  In 1923, but before his 14th birthday, he had a very small part in James Cruze's The Covered Wagon, a western adventure; the film was produced by Paramount.  He wouldn't appear in another film until 1928.  Most likely, he continued to work on and around back-lots during this time. There are also probably several titles that he appeared in as extraduring the hiatus, that have not been attributed to him as an uncredited extra. He returned to film definitively for his first named credit in 1928, in The Farmer's Daughter, produced by Fox. The next film that he made, also in 1928, Prep and Pep, was a partial silent, with soundtrack and sound effects provided by Western Electric.  His first full sound film came in 1929, with Words and Music, which had a fully silent alternative version--sadly it is amongst the many lost films.  He next made Salute, also in 1929, which was a full early talkie, with sound also by Western Electric.  He would make just one more film in the 1920's--a full sound musical revue.  After this, he had steady work as a character actor, and sometimes a leading man in a B-movie, for the rest of his life. He would go on to act in over 100 film and television programs.  He is probably best remembered for a small, but very visible part in Alfred Hitchcock's horror thriller Psycho, in the leering role of Tom Cassidy, the rich man who talks up Marion Crane and boasts about his wealth at the beginning of the film--it was his money that she later steals (Albertson had made two appearance on Hitchcock's television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, before this).  In looking at the fresh faced youngster pictured above, it is rather hard to imagine, that by the young age of 52, he would look old enough to play such a role!  He did not live long after this--he passed away in his sleep at his home in Santa Monica, at the age of 55 on Leap Day in 1964, having worked right up until his death.  He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA.  It should be noted that he was in no way related to sibling actors Jack and Mabel Albertson.

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