Saturday, July 18, 2020

Born Today July 18: Gene Lockhart


Canadian born actor Gene Lockhart was born Edwin Eugene Lockhart in London, Ontario on this day. His father was an accomplished singer and thus encouraged his young son when the later showed an interest in performance.  He began acting as a child and made his professional stage debut at the age of just six; he also said that he made his professional dance debut a year later.  He was educated in both London, Canada and London, England and as a young adult became a professional football player in Toronto.  His very long association with the theater was the most pervasive portion of his career; movies came second--but when he appeared in films he always shone through--even in bit parts; this is especially true of the villains and "heavies" that he played so well (so much fun to watch!).  Early on, his career in theater took him to New York, while there he actually taught at Julliard. There, he made his Broadway debut in 1916 at the age of 25.  His film debut followed six years later in 1922.  It would be his only appearance in a silent film.  The film was a Norma Talmadge vehicle (made by her production company)--Smilin' Through --and directed by Sidney Franklin.  His part was rather small--that of "Village Rector"--he was credited as Eugene Lockhart.  Returning to the stage, Lockhart did not appear in film again until 1933 in a little known comedic short called The No Man  (an example of a "Broadway Brevity"--you  can read more about them here).  The first major production that he acted in was RKO's 1934 comedy By Your Leave; an accomplished singer and songwriter--Lockhart contributed to the soundtrack by singing a rendition of  "Far Above Cayuga's Waters." He was by this time transplanted to Hollywood and his film rolls increased exponentially. He made appearances in such well known films as: the 1938 Reginald Owen rendition of A Christmas CarolHis Girl Friday (1940), Capra's Meet John Doe (1941), Curtiz's The Sea Wolf (1941), The Devil And Daniel Webster (1941), Northern Pursuit (1943) starring Errol Flynn, the film noir The House on 92nd Street (1945), and Miracle on 34th Street (1947).  He made his television debut in 1950 the series Lights Out -- a horror/mystery/science fiction affair that was a fore-runner of The Twilight Zone (episode:  Dr. Heidegger's Experiment). He also made an appearance on the similar series Tales of Tomorrow.  In the 1950's, he divided his time between television and the big screen, with the film Jeanne Eagels starring Kim Novak and based on the life of the silent film starlet of the same name as the film, being his last film. It was released several months after his death on the 31st of March in Santa Monica of a heart attack. He was 65 years of age. He was buried at Holy Cross in Culver City.  During his career, Lockhart became a naturalized U.S. citizen, wrote several plays and was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in Algiers.  If Lockhart's last name rings a bell that you can't quite place, that is because he was the father, with his actress wife Kathleen Lockhart, of well known actress June Lockhart of "Lost In Space" fame (she strongly favors her father).  All three of them appeared in A Christmas Carol

[Source: Scott Michaels (Find A Grave)]



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