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George Macready Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (18) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 29 August 1899Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Date of Death 2 July 1973Los Angeles, California, USA  (emphysema)
Birth NameGeorge Peabody Macready Jr.
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

George Macready - the name probably does not ring any bells - but the voice would be unmistakable. Macready attended and graduated from Brown University and went on to take a short stint as a New York newspaperman. He was drawn to theater acting with the advice of colorful Polish émigré classical stage director Richard Boleslawski, who would go on to Hollywood to direct some important films, including getting the Barrymore's together for Rasputin and the Empress (1932), as well as Clive of India (1935) with Ronald Colman. Perhaps acting was fate, for Macready claimed that he was descended from 19th-century Shakespearean actor William Macready. By 1926 Macready made his Broadway debut in "The Scarlet Letter". His Broadway career would extend from then to 1958, entailing 15 plays, drama but also some comedy, the lion share of roles during the 1930s. His Shakespearean run included the lead as Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing" (1927), "Macbeth" (1928), and "Romeo and Juliet" (1934) with Broadway star Katharine Cornell. He co-starred with her again in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street". And he co-starred with Helen Hayes in "Victoria Regina" - twice (1936 and 1937).

Macready's aquiline features coupled with a distinctive high brow bottom-voiced diction and superior, nose-in-the-air delivery that could be quickly tinged with a gothic menace made him perfect as the cultured bad guy. Added to his whole demeanor was a significant curved scar on his right cheek, remnant of a car accident in about 1919 - better PR that it was a saber slash wound from his dueling days as a youth. He did not turn to films until 1942 and did not weigh in fully committed until 1944 with a host of both well crafted and just fair movies until the end of World War II. But Macready was game to excel as strong-willed authoritarian and villainous characters to form-fit whatever the film: good efforts all around included, The Seventh Cross (1944), The Missing Juror (1944), Counter-Attack (1945) and My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) with a young Nina Foch. Busy with some six or more films per year, Macready found himself also in the sword and cape gamut, in addition to some westerns through the remainder of the 40s. But his standout role of the period was the silver-haired, dark-suited, and mysteriously rich Ballin Mundson in Gilda (1946), who malevolently poised himself over the lives of smoldering Rita Hayworth and moody Glenn Ford.

Already into the 1950s, amid more nemesis roles in film, Macready had sampled the waters of early television by 1952. He had multiple guest appearances on the TV playhouse programs: a recurring role in "Four Star Playhouse", "The Ford Television Theatre", "General Electric Theatre", and Alfred Hitchcock Presents" among several others. And he became a welcomed, professional fixture on episodic TV starting in 1954. In this regard Macready made the circuit of the majority of hit shows, especially that grand spectrum of Westerns, including some not so well known: "The Texan" and "The Rough Riders". He was familiar to crime drama watchers - "Perry Mason" - and certainly sci-fi and horror

  • as "Outer Limits" and "Thriller" - later "Night Gallery". He did some
200 TV roles. But he was no stranger to continued film appearances. The best of these - some consider his best - was in the Stanley Kubrick film of military brutality to one's own, Paths of Glory (1957). As the World War I French general Paul Mireau, martinet and fanatic, Macready lays down a great performance - as indeed does all in this gripping fiction based on real cases of mutiny in the French army.

Into the 1960s Macready was a busy man - as noted with his ongoing TV roles. And to those add his three years as Martin Peyton in the five year run of the popular "Peyton Place", the first prime time soap opera and launching vehicle for many a young rising star of the time. The films were fewer - but some good ones: Taras Bulba (1962) and the gripping Seven Days in May (1964), and his next to last film appearance as a very human Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, in the Universal somewhat uneven story of Pearl Harbor Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).

Another role stands out as unusual as well but not as the usual drama-rather for the fact that it was an uproarious comedy-something in which one would not expect to see George Macready. But Macready could play comedy as well, and here he had a chance with the best of them in the Blake Edwards extravaganza and spoof on melodrama (and the real 1908 New York-to-Paris car race) The Great Race (1965). Macready shows up in the very clever subplot of having the auto racers stuck in a German-like principality where Edwards provides his own version of "The Prisoner of Zenda". In this case - show stealer without a doubt - Jack Lemmon as pseudo-villain Professor Fate looks like the thoroughly silly and slightly fay Prince Hapnick, giving Ross Martin as Baron von Stuppe and Macready as General Kuhster the idea to take over by switching the two. The Professor is reluctant to say the least, especially with the general asking him to mimic the prince's inane laugh: "Can you laugh?" he asks as he proceeds with a hilarious mimic of Lemmon-as-Hapnick laughing. Later, chasing after Fate as the now crowned bogus king, they end up in the royal bakery, and Macready gets the first pie in the face of what is hands-down the best pie fight in film history. It must have been great fun!

George Macready was as cultured as he seemed. In private life he was a well regarded connoisseur of art. And friend and fellow actor Vincent Price was of the same mind. They opened a very successful Los Angeles gallery together during World War II. As far as the villain roles went, Macready was grateful for the depth they allowed him through his years as both film and television actor. "I like heavies," and to that he added with a philosophic twinkle, "I think there's a little bit of evil in all of us."

- IMDb Mini Biography By: William McPeak

Spouse (1)

Elizabeth Dana Patterson (22 December 1931 - 31 July 1943) (divorced) (3 children)

Trade Mark (2)

The scar on his cheek
Gravelly smoke burnished Voice

Trivia (18)

Though specializing in playing truly evil villains, he was actually a cultured and expert art collector, as was his good friend Vincent Price, with whom Macready was partners in a Los Angeles art gallery.
He claimed (probably correctly and truthfully) to be a descendant of the great 19th-century Shakespearean actor William Macready.
Grandfather of US gymnast John Macready and actor Oliver Macready, whose full name is Oliver George Macready.
The scar on Macready's right cheek was the result of a car accident during his college days. According to his son Michael Macready, George and some fraternity brothers were riding in a Model T Ford when they hit an icy patch on the road. They struck a telephone pole, and George went through the windshield. His friends could find only one doctor in the vicinity, who happened to be a veterinarian. George did get his cheek stitched, but he also ended up with scarlet fever, apparently because the veterinarian didn't wash up properly.
George and Vincent Price opened the Little Gallery in Beverly Hills in the spring of 1943. According to Victoria Price (Vincent's daughter), their customers included Charles Laughton, Tallulah Bankhead, Barbara Hutton, Fanny Brice, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. Of Garbo, Vincent said she "dropped in to look and, if anyone else was looking, dropped out--quickly." Jane Wyatt said, "It was a great, fun gallery. It was the place to go to meet and mingle. There was nothing else like it around. It was a wonderful place." George and Vincent eventually closed the Little Gallery when they could no longer do it justice while maintaining full-time movie careers.
George became good friends with Vincent Price when they were both appearing on stage with Helen Hayes in "Victoria Regina." Vincent wrote about George in a letter home: "The boy who plays my brother and is my understudy is a swell egg and I thank God for him.".
Macready won a varsity letter in football at Brown University in 1920 -- but as the manager, not as a player.
George had three children: Michael Macready (born 1932), Marcia (born 1934) and Elizabeth (born 1938).
Macready was a graduate of Classical High School in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He graduated from Brown University (also in Providence) in 1921.
Was initiated into the Beta chapter of Delta Phi fraternity at Brown University in 1918.
Donated his body to the UCLA medical school.
Among his hobbies were mind-challenging games such as deciphering cryptograms and writing his own crossword puzzles. He also enjoyed collecting paintings. His favorite artists were Matisse, Renoir, and Van Gogh.
Macready was an avid reader, and he especially enjoyed reading mysteries. In fact, he was known to read a mystery novel while simultaneously listening to a mystery show on the radio.
In a 1960 article, Macready indicated that two of his favorite TV roles were in Kraft Theatre: The Diamond as Big as the Ritz (1955) and Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse: Thunder in the Night (1960)).
The 1934 edition of the Brown University alumni newsletter said: "George Macready '21 is still touring the provinces with Katharine Cornell in 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'The Barretts of Wimpole Street.' Mrs. Macready [Elizabeth Dana] is in the company, and the Macready heir is in New York, where Miss Mary Macready, one of George's aunts, is looking out for it until the parents come home".
George had a housekeeper who embroidered the titles of all of George's movies on to an afghan.
When Orson Welles married in 1934, he was wearing a cutaway coat and pants that he had borrowed from Macready. Orson's mother-in-law wanted him to dress formally for the occasion, but he owned nothing appropriate to wear and couldn't afford to purchase formal attire. So, he asked Macready (with whom he had acted on the stage) to help. In Welles' wedding photo, the pants look a little short -- probably because Welles was heavier than Macready and the pants fit him more tightly as a result.
Odd coincidence: In Macready's movie debut in Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942), he plays a schoolteacher. His first lines include the words "I'm writing a novel myself." In his final movie, The Return of Count Yorga (1971), - he portrays a professor. His final line is, "You haven't read my book!".

Personal Quotes (8)

At heart, I'm really a harmless and calm person.
[Discussing how he enjoyed playing villains] Purely in an academic way. At heart, I am a kind man.
[Referring to a part he played on Four Star Playhouse] I play a mad - a maniacal - killer. Fun.
[Explaining how he got a lucky break onstage when his leading lady forgot her lines.] I managed, somehow, to give her lines and my own, too. Then came the finale when a rope, manipulated by pulleys and concealed from the audience, was to assist me into "heaven." It darned near did -- it broke. I wasn't hurt, fortunately, but a very famous stock company manager was in the audience - Jessie Bonstelle. She came backstage and said, in substance, that any young actor who could play both leading man and leading lady in the same play at the same time, and make such an abrupt descent from heaven with such good grace, ought to be good enough for her company.
My freshman year [at Brown University] I tried out for the dramatic club. I have been interested in the theater ever since I could remember. I worked diligently over "Friends, Romans, Countrymen..." and when it was my turn to try out for the club, I got to my feet and began Antony's lines. After I finished, the president of the organization turned to another member, and I heard him ask, "What in the world was he saying?" My name did not appear on the list of dramatic club fledglings the next morning when I hopefully went to look for it.
There's a much more friendly atmosphere on a movie set than there is on a Broadway stage. New York stage hands are snobbish and seldom speak to actors. What a difference in Hollywood! Here prop men and cameramen and script girls all feel they're part of the family. They give you little suggestions, tip you off to things you should know, beam at you when they like the way you play a scene.
[Describing his years in college and immediately thereafter, when he was trying to convince his father that he didn't want to be an engineer.] I was biding my time. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I was sure it wasn't engineering. After college I gradually persuaded my father that I wasn't cut out for an engineer. First I went to work in a bank in our home town of Providence, R.I., which at least was business -- and therefore acceptable, you see, to my father. Then I got a position in the traffic department of the Daily News in New York -- also business, which meant that my father was pleased but I wasn't. At the News, I started out as a typist, got to be second assistant traffic manager, and finally slid up to the manager's job more or less by default. I was the only one around the office who could find records and correspondence -- because I had set up my own secret filing system which no one else understood -- and I also was the only one who spent much time in the office. The other fellows wanted to be out on the road, which meant that they depended on me to do the office work. I was lazy and preferred to stay in the office, so I eventually found myself manager after the people above me had resigned or were transferred.
[Discussing a 1928 stage production of "Macbeth" in which the scene design proved to be problematic]: [The settings] appeared to be huge packing boxes painted white and piled in different formations one on top of the other. These created chaos on the first "performance" in Philadelphia...when I tried to make my entrance in the battle scene and found every entrance blocked by these ghastly boxes. I never did make it.

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