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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 doesn't ring any bells for most but the voice would be unmistakable. He attended and graduated from Brown University and had a short stint as a New York newspaperman, but became interested in acting on the advice of colorful Polish émigré classical stage director Richard Boleslawski, who would go on to Hollywood to direct some notable and important films, including Rasputin and the Empress (1932)--the only film in which siblings John Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore appeared together--and Clive of India (1935) with Ronald Colman. Perhaps acting was meant for Macready all along--he claimed that he was descended from 19th-century Shakespearean actor William Macready.

In 1926 Macready made his Broadway debut in "The Scarlet Letter". His Broadway career would extend to 1958, entailing 15 plays--mainly dramas but also some comedies--with the lion's share of roles in 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 legend Katharine Cornell. He co-starred with her again in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" and with with Helen Hayes in "Victoria Regina" twice (1936 and 1937).

Macready's aquiline features coupled with 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 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. When he went all in, though, he excelled as strong-willed authoritarian and ambitious, murderous--but well-bred--villains. Among his better roles in that period were in The Seventh Cross (1944), The Missing Juror (1944), Counter-Attack (1945) and My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) with a young Nina Foch. Averaging six or more films per year throughout the 1940s, he appeared not only in dramas and thrillers, but also period pieces and even some westerns. His standout role, however--and probably the one he is best remembered for--was the silver-haired, dark-suited and mysteriously rich Ballin Mundson in Gilda (1946), who malevolently inserted himself into the lives of smoldering Rita Hayworth and moody Glenn Ford.

By the early 1950s he had sampled the waters of early TV. He had many appearances on such anthology series as Four Star Playhouse (1952), The Ford Television Theatre (1952) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), among others. he became a familiar presence in episodic TV series beginning in 1954. He made the rounds of most of the hit shows of the period, including a slew of western, including such obscure series as The Texan (1958) and The Rough Riders (1958). He was familiar to viewers of crime dramas--such as Perry Mason (1957)--and such classic sci-fi and horror series as Thriller (1960), The Outer Limits (1963) and Night Gallery (1969). He did some 200 TV roles altogether, but still continued his film appearances. He assayed what many consider his role as the ambitious French Gen. Paul Mireau, a fanatic and martinet whose lust for fame and glory leads to the deaths of hundreds of French soldiers in a senseless frontal attack on heavily fortified German lines in Stanley Kubrick classic antiwar film Paths of Glory (1957). Macready's performance stood out in a film brimming with standout performances, from such veterans as Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Meeker and Timothy Carey. The film was even more striking when it turns out that it based on a true incident.

Macready stayed busy into the 1960s, mainly in TV roles. he had a three-year run as Martin Peyton in the hit series Peyton Place (1964), the first prime-time soap opera and a launching pad for many a young rising star of the time. His film roles became fewer, but there were some good ones--the Yul Brynner adventure period piece Taras Bulba (1962) and la meaty role as an advisor to US Prlesident Fredric March attempting to stop a coup by a right-wing general played by Burt Lancaster in the gripping Seven Days in May (1964). His next-to-last film appearance was as a very human Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, in Universal's splashy, big=budget but somewhat uneven story of Pearl Harbor, Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).

Another role that stands out in his career is one in the kind of film which you wold not expect to find George Macready--Blake Edwards' uproarious comedy -The Great Race (1965)_. Macready shined in one of the film's several subplots, this one a spoof of the "Ruritanian" chestnut "The P Prizoner of Zenda", in which the racers find themselves in the middle of palace intrigue in a small European monarchy. Macready played a general trying to stave off a coup by using Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon, who is a double for the drunken ruler. Macrady held his own with such comedy veterans as Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and a host of others. To top it of, Macready gets involved in one of the great pie fights in film history, and takes one right in the kisser!

In real life George Macready was as cultured as he appeared to be on screen. He was a well regarded connoisseur of art, and he and fellow art devotee--and longtime friend--opened a very successful Los Angeles art 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," he once said, 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 (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

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 Henri Matisse, Auguste Renoir and Vincent 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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