Edit

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (5)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 14 April 1930New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 27 September 2013Sherman Oaks, California, USA  (congestive heart failure)

Mini Bio (1)

Character actor Jay Robinson owned a pair of the narrowest, cruelest-looking eyes in 1950s Hollywood. To compliment them was an evil-looking sneer, crisp and biting diction and a nefarious-sounding cackle. These were all draped upon a lean, bony physique that could slither about menacingly like a ready-to-pounce cobra. With that in mind, he made an auspicious film debut as Caligula in The Robe (1953), stealing much of the proceedings from the movie's actual stars Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature. Though many complained that Jay's interpretation bordered dangerously on outrageous camp, his depraved Roman emperor nevertheless remains the most indelible image when reminded of the epic costumer.

Born on April 14, 1930 in New York City, Jay came from a fine upbringing, tutored at private schools both here and in Europe. His background in summer stock and repertory companies eventually attracted Broadway work in the Shakespeare classics "As You Like It" (1950) and "Much Ado About Nothing" (1952). He also appeared in and produced the play, "Buy Me Blue Ribbons", in 1951, which was short-lived. After his movie bow, Jay went on to reprise the scenery-chewing character Caligula in Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) with Mature and Susan Hayward, and offered typically eye-catching supporting turns in The Virgin Queen (1955), starring Bette Davis, and My Man Godfrey (1957), with David Niven and June Allyson.

However, it was at this juncture that things started going horribly wrong for Jay. His new-found celebrity reportedly went to his head and he became extremely difficult to work with. In addition, the volatile actor began experimenting recklessly with drugs. In 1958, he was booked for possession of narcotics (methadone) and sentenced to a year in jail. Free on bail, the incident and resulting notoriety ruined his career. After scraping up work outside the entertainment industry as a cook and landlord, he recovered from his drug addiction and married. Resuming work in obscure bit parts, he had another career relapse when he was forced to spend 15 months in jail after an old warrant was served on him.

In the late 1960s, Jay started appearing again on television. He even prodded the memory of his own character Caligula character by playing an impertinent Julius Caesar on an episode of Bewitched (1964). However, it took a huge star like Bette Davis, who had always recognized and appreciated his talent, to help him regain a footing in movies again when she insisted he take a prime role in her movie, Bunny O'Hare (1971). The movie failed miserably, deservedly so, but Jay prevailed and managed to repair his status with a number of delightfully flamboyant and hammy performances. Jay played fun parts along the way in Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), Warren Beatty's Shampoo (1975) and even Paul Reubens' Big Top Pee-wee (1988). While he played the delightfully eccentric Dr. Shrinker on The Krofft Supershow (1976) for one season, he somewhat balanced this silliness with made-for-video Shakespearean performances of Macbeth (1981), The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (1981) and Richard II (1982). Some horror roles fell his way as well with Train Ride to Hollywood (1975), in which he played Dracula, Transylvania Twist (1989) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). In 1997, Jay proved an ideal host for the Discovery Channel's Beyond Bizarre (1997).

Jay Robinson died at age 83 of congestive heart failure in his home in Sherman Oaks, California on September 27, 2013.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Gloria Casas (2004 - 27 September 2013) (his death)
Pauline Flowers (1960 - 2002) (her death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Deep commanding voice
Machiavellian eyebrows

Trivia (5)

His trademark "scary voice", which he developed in his elder years, became a mainstay of his post-retirement career. His voice is sometimes mistaken for that of the late Tony Jay, a brilliant British voice-actor. Jay has not been in the public light since his retirement from acting in 1994, aside from a brief stint as the host of Beyond Bizarre (1997). It was during this time that Tony Jay's voice talents became well-known in American media, as well as Jay Robinson's television series Beyond Bizarre (1997), hence the confusion that sometimes resulted when Tony Jay's voice was heard in video games or animated series.
In 1958, Robinson was arrested on a narcotics violation. His conviction was overturned, but he later served 15 months in prison after unknowingly missing a date for retrial.
Best remembered for his role as Emperor Calugula in The Robe (1953) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954).
Retired from acting in 2000 after less than 50 years in the motion picture industry. Resided in Sherman Oaks, California until his death.
Following his death, he was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles, California.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page