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Tristram Coffin Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (1) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Mammoth, Utah, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Nickname Tris
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Tristram Coffin was born in a Utah mining community, grew up in Salt Lake City, and started acting while in high school. He later continued acting with traveling stock companies. Having earned a degree in speech at the University of Washington, he worked as a news analyst and sportscaster until a Hollywood talent scout approached him with the idea of putting him in films. Coffin's sinister looks served him well in the roles he played in serials like Perils of Nyoka (1942) and Spy Smasher (1942), but there were occasional hero roles, too, as in the feature The Corpse Vanishes (1942) with Bela Lugosi. He donned the bullet helmet and gadget-laden leather jacket of Rocket Man in the 1949 serial King of the Rocket Men (1949). Baby boomers might remember Coffin best as the Arizona Ranger Captain in the 1950s Western series 26 Men (1957).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tom Weaver <TomWeavr@aol.com>

Spouse (2)

Dorothy (? - ?)
Vera (? - 26 March 1990) (his death)

Trivia (1)

He was the infamous "dead man walking" from early television, an often-told tale about the "corpse" who got up and walked out of a scene on live TV. The incident was so well known that Los Angeles Times ran an article a few days after the incident, saying, "It seems that on the new high-budgeted CBS dramatic series, Climax! (1954), which had its debut on KNXT (2) Thursday night, actor Tristam Coffin was lying under a blanket and Detective Dick Powell was talking about having the body removed when the actor arose from the dead and strolled off scene. Powell and the other actors went right on talking as if nothing had happened. And the show went on and the private eye finally solved the murder, leaving televiewers a little perplexed. CBS blushingly explained yesterday that Coffin thought the scene was over and that he was off-camera when he took his macabre stroll".

Personal Quotes (2)

[about his more than 300 film and TV appearances] A lot of my films I can't remember the titles or having ever worked in them. You made so many, it was almost like being on a roller-skate going from one studio to another. On a couple of occasions I was working in two pictures on the same lot at the same time.
[on why he played so many "heavies"] I asked for it. I pleaded for it, and fought for it. I was doing leading man and romance roles but I loved westerns. I talked to [Scott R. Dunlap], who was producing westerns at Monogram, and asked him if I could do some heavies. He said, "Tris, you're too dignified. You're strictly a leading man and romance type. You can't work in westerns as a heavy". I said, "Scotty, have you ever gone to a state penitentiary and looked at some of the inmates? There are lawyers, doctors, and motion picture producers; they're not all mugs". So he said, "Well, maybe you've got a point. I've got a script with a heavy that can be played smooth". So he gave me the part and that was my start playing heavies and I've always loved doing them. I've played many villains and have been so mean that in one picture they even tried to give me to the Indians and they wouldn't take me.

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