World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Charles Bickford

Article Id: WHEBN0001069442
Reproduction Date:

Title: Charles Bickford  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Brute Force (1947 film), Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, River's End (1930 film), Guilty of Treason
Collection: 1891 Births, 1967 Deaths, 20Th Century Fox Contract Players, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, American Male Film Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American Male Television Actors, Animal Attack Victims, Burials at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, Male Actors from Massachusetts, Male Western (Genre) Film Actors, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Contract Players, People from the Greater Los Angeles Area, United States Navy Sailors
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Charles Bickford

Charles Bickford
Bickford in trailer for Johnny Belinda (1948)
Born Charles Ambrose Bickford
(1891-01-01)January 1, 1891
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died November 9, 1967(1967-11-09) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery
Occupation Actor
Years active 1904-1967
Spouse(s) Beatrice Loring (1916-67) (his death), two children
Children Doris Bickford (b. 1919)
Rex Bickford (1924-1960)

Charles Ambrose Bickford (January 1, 1891 – November 9, 1967) was an American actor best known for his strong supporting roles.[1] He was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for The Song of Bernadette (1943), The Farmer's Daughter (1947), and Johnny Belinda (1948). Other notable roles include Whirlpool (1948), A Star is Born (1954) and The Big Country (1958).

Contents

  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Acting career 1.2
    • Death 1.3
  • Partial filmography 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Biography

Early life

Bickford was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the first minute of 1891.[2] The fifth of seven children, Charles was an intelligent but very independent and unruly child. He had a particularly strong relationship with his maternal grandfather (a sea captain) who was a powerful influence during his formative years. At the age of nine he was tried and acquitted of the attempted murder of a trolley motorman who had callously driven over and killed his beloved dog.[3] Always more interested in experiencing life than reading about it, Charles was generally considered "the wild rogue" of this family, causing his parents frequent consternation. In his late teens he drifted aimlessly around the United States for a time. Before breaking into acting he worked as a lumberjack, investment promoter, and for a short time, ran a pest extermination business. He was a stoker and fireman in the United States Navy when a friend dared him to get a job in Burlesque. His first entry into acting was on the stage, eventually including Broadway. This venue provided him with an occasional living and served as the principal training ground for developing his acting and vocal talents.

Acting career

Bickford had intended to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to earn an engineering degree, but while wandering around the country, he became friends with the manager of a burlesque show, who convinced Bickford to take a role in the show. He debuted in Oakland, California in 1911.[4] Bickford enjoyed himself so much that he abandoned his plans to attend M.I.T.[5] He made his legitimate stage debut with the John Craig Stock Company at the Castle Square Theatre in Boston in 1912.[6] He eventually joined a road company and traveled throughout the United States for more than a decade, appearing in various productions. In 1925, while working in a Broadway play called Outside Looking In, he and co-star James Cagney (in his first Broadway role) received rave reviews.[7] He was offered a role in Herbert Brenon's 1926 film of Beau Geste, but anxious not to give up his newfound Broadway stardom, turned it down, a decision he later came to regret. Following his appearance in the critically praised but unsuccessful Maxwell Anderson-Harold Hickerson drama about the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Gods of the Lightning (Bickford was the Sacco character), Bickford was contacted by filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille and offered a contract with MGM studios to star in DeMille's first talking picture, Dynamite.[8] He soon began working with MGM head Louis B. Mayer on a number of projects.

He soon became a star after playing Greta Garbo's lover in Anna Christie (1930), but never developed into a leading man. Always of independent mind, exceptionally strong-willed and quick with his fists, Bickford would frequently argue and nearly come to blows with Mayer and any number of other MGM authority figures during the course of this contract with the studio. During the production of DeMille's Dynamite, he punched out his director following a string of heated arguments primarily, but not exclusively, related to the interpretation of his character's role. Throughout his early career on both the stage and later films Bickford rejected numerous scripts and made no secret of his disdain for much of the material he was offered. Not surprisingly, his association with MGM was short-lived with Bickford asking for and quickly receiving a release from his contract. However, he soon found himself blacklisted at other studios forcing him [9] to take the highly unusual step (for that era) of becoming an independent actor for several years. His career took another turn when in 1935 he was mauled by a lion and nearly killed while filming East of Java. While he recovered, he lost his contract with Fox as well as his leading man status due to extensive neck scarring suffered in the attack coupled with his advancing age.[10] It was not long however before he made a very successful transition to character roles which he felt offered much greater diversity and allowed him to showcase his talent to better effect. Much preferring the character roles that now became his forte, Bickford appeared in many notable films including The Farmer's Daughter, Johnny Belinda, A Star is Born, and Not As a Stranger.[11]

Finding great success playing an array of character roles in films and later in television, Bickford quickly became highly sought after; his burly frame and craggy, intense features, coupled with a gruff, powerful voice lent themselves to a wide variety of roles. Most often he played lovable father figures, stern businessmen, heavies, ship captains or authority figures of some sort. During the 1940s, he was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He served as host of the 1950s television series The Man Behind the Badge.

On April 16, 1958, Bickford appeared with Roger Smith in "The Daniel Barrister Story" on NBC's Wagon Train. In this first season episode, Daniel Barrister, played by Bickford, objects to medical treatment for his wife, Jenny, the victim of a wagon accident. Meanwhile, Dr. Peter H. Culver, played by Smith, has successfully fought a smallpox epidemic in a nearby town. He is brought to the wagon train by scout Flint McCullough, portrayed by series regular Robert Horton to treat Mrs. Barrister. Viewers never knew if Barrister yielded to allow Dr. Culver to treat Jenny.

Bickford continued to act in generally prestigious projects right up to his death. He guest-starred on ABC's The Islanders and on NBC's The Barbara Stanwyck Show and The Eleventh Hour. In his final years, Bickford played rancher John Grainger, owner of the Shiloh Ranch on NBC's The Virginian western series.

Two of the actor's most memorable big-screen roles came in the western The Big Country (1958), as a wealthy and ruthless rancher, and in the drama Days of Wine and Roses, as the forlorn father of an alcoholic.

In 1965, Bickford published his autobiography, Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors.[12]

Death

He died in Los Angeles of a blood infection at the age of 76, on November 9, 1967, just days after filming an episode of The Virginian. His death triggered Jennifer Jones' suicide attempt in November 1967.[13]

He had a son, Rex and a daughter, Doris.

Partial filmography

References

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, November 15, 1967.
  2. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, p. 4
  3. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 12-16
  4. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 50-53.
  5. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 60-61.
  6. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 61-62.
  7. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 142-145
  8. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, p. 157
  9. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 274-277
  10. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, pp. 298-303
  11. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, p 308.
  12. ^ Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, p 308.
  13. ^ obituaryL.A. Times

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from School eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.