Lyle Talbot Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (5) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 8 February 1902Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 2 March 1996San Francisco, California, USA
Birth NameLysle Henderson
Height 5' 11½" (1.82 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Lyle Talbot, who appeared in scores of movies from leads in Warner Bros.' "B" pictures to supporting roles in Edward D. Wood Jr.'s legendary kitsch, was born Lysle Henderson on February 8, 1902, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in a small town in Nebraska, where after the early death of his mother, he was raised by her mother, Mary Hollywood Talbot, whose name he later bore professionally.

Talbot's incredibly long and varied show-business career began right after high school, when he joined a traveling tent show. Starting out as a magician-hypnotist's assistant, he worked his way up to magician before quitting the carny's life for that of the stock theater. He learned to act with stock companies throughout the Midwest, where he became a leading man, and even formed his own short-lived company in Memphis, Tennessee, "The Talbot Players," which included his actor father, Ed Henderson. By 1931 he was in Hollywood as the talkies were maturing. He had the good looks of a star but, more importantly, he had a rich baritone voice that the talkies needed. He appeared in a short and followed it up with a role in a featured picture in support of fading star H.B. Warner (Cecil B. DeMille's Christ in The King of Kings (1927)) before being signed by Warner Bros.-First National. The studio gave him a plum part in William A. Wellman's Love Is a Racket (1932) co-staring with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ann Dvorak and the fast-talking Lee Tracy. He appeared in "A" pictures in the 1930s in supporting roles, including Three on a Match (1932), 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932), One Night of Love (1934) (with opera star Grace Moore) and 42nd Street (1933), but his work was mostly in "B" pictures, in which he frequently played leads. Although he thoroughly enjoyed the work, acting was practiced as an assembly line operation at the time. Actors would be assigned work usually based on 12-hour days and six-day weeks, and commit themselves to the infamous seven-year exclusive contract that included draconian suspension penalties in the fine print. Talbot, along with James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis (ironically all WB contract players), were outspoken in their commitment to change working conditions for actors. Talbot was one of the founders of the Screen Actors Guild and the first employee of the Brothers Warners to join the union, much to their ire.

Talbot appeared as Commissioner Gordon in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin (1949) and was Lex Luthor in Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) the next year. Talbot took on a tremendous amount of roles, either through not being discriminating enough in what he took, being oblivious to the quality of the films given him, or he was just simply eager to work (who knows?), and in the early 1950s he appeared in several of Edward D. Wood Jr.'s most notorious films, including the infamous transvestite tear-jerker Glen or Glenda (1953) and the famously inept Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). Aside from Bela Lugosi, Talbot was Wood's most famous star.

Talbot's acting career thrived on television, in which he appeared from the beginning of the medium until the 1980s. He co-starred as Ozzie Nelson's friend Joe Randolph on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (1952) and as Robert Cummings' Air Force buddy in The Bob Cummings Show (1955) (also known as "Love that Bob") and made guest appearances on a plethora of TV series, including Leave It to Beaver (1957), The Lone Ranger (1949), Topper (1953), The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950), Perry Mason (1957), Rawhide (1959), Wagon Train (1957), The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Green Acres (1965), Charlie's Angels (1976), Newhart (1982), The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) and Who's the Boss? (1984).

Throughout his film and TV career, Talbot continued to perform on stage, co-starring in "Separate Rooms" on Broadway in the early 1940s and starring in national touring companies of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" and summer stock tours of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" and Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker."

Lyle Talbot died of natural causes on March 3, 1996, in his home in San Francisco, California, at the age of 94, the last of the SAG founders to shuffle off this mortal coil.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (5)

Margaret Carol Epple (18 June 1948 - 18 March 1989) (her death) (4 children)
Keven McClure (27 August 1946 - 6 May 1947) (divorced)
Abigail Adams (22 January 1942 - 11 September 1942) (annulled)
Marguerite Ethel Cramer (28 March 1937 - 23 April 1940) (divorced)
Elaine Melchoir (? - ?) (divorced)

Trivia (16)

Father of journalist David Talbot, founding editor of Salon.com.
Father of public television producer Stephen Talbot, a former child actor who was best known as Beaver's friend Gilbert on Leave It to Beaver (1957).
He was the last of the surviving original members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He was also the first Warner Brothers contract player to join SAG.
Between 1932 and 1934 he appeared in 28 films, mostly for Warner Bros.
Founding member of the Screen Actors Guild, which angered many studio heads but did not result in a loss of work.
Was working on his memoirs when he died in 1996 at the age of 94.
In the span of two years (1950-1951), he appeared in 29 films.
Played Commissioner Gordon in the 1949 Batman serial (Batman and Robin (1949)), before becoming a staple in the films of Edward D. Wood Jr. Director Tim Burton later did his own version of "Batman" (Batman (1989)) and a biopic of Wood (Ed Wood (1994)).
Was the first actor to play Commissioner Gordon from Batman, and the first actor to play Lex Luthor from Superman.
Two pairs of his successors in his DC Comics roles have worked together in two separate movies. Pat Hingle and Gene Hackman appear together in The Quick and the Dead (1995). Gary Oldman and Kevin Spacey appear together in Henry & June (1990).
During a busy stretch of work in movie serials and live television in the early-1950s, he lived at the Highland Towers Apartments at 1922 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA. The building is a registered landmark today. From 1955-1989 Talbot and his family lived at 3942 Goodland Avenue in Studio City, CA. where he was the town's "honorary mayor" in the 1960s.
Lyle's granddaughter, Caitlin Talbot, studied acting in the Master's program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where she starred in the play, "Orlando.".
Pulled double duty doing voice over work for Warner Brothers' coming attractions in the early 1930's. That's Talbot's voice on the Jewel Robbery (1932) coming attraction reel.
In the mid to late 1950s he was featured in two TV series at the same time, playing the recurring roles of the star's "best friend" on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (1952) and The Bob Cummings Show (1955).
He may be the only actor to have starred in both leading roles in major productions of Neil Simon's play, "The Odd Couple," appearing in different national road company tours in the 1960s as Felix Unger (the Jack Lemmon role) and Oscar Madison (the Walter Matthau role).
Lyle Talbot's youngest daughter, Margaret Talbot, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, has written a new book about her late father, "The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father's Twentieth Century" (Riverhead Books, New York) to be published in November 2012.

Personal Quotes (2)

You kids think you invented free love in the Sixties. You have no idea what it was like to be young and beautiful in the Thirties in Hollywood. Everyone was sleeping with everyone.
[on working for Sam Katzman] Sam Katzman had a reputation as one of the cheapest guys in the world. I never had any idea that Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) would remain so popular. At the time it was a three-week job. Even so, I loved playing Lex Luthor. I could put on my meanest face. I used to have the attitude that it was better to work than sit home idle, and as a result I did a lot of things that weren't the greatest. But that was my fault.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page