George Zucco Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (10)

Overview (4)

Born in Manchester, England, UK
Died in Hollywood, California, USA  (pneumonia)
Nicknames One-Take Zucco
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

At 22, George Zucco decided to begin his stage career in earnest in the Canadian provinces in 1908. In the course of the following decade, he also performed in an American vaudeville tour with his young wife, Frances, in a routine called "The Suffragette." As World War I grew in scale, Zucco returned to England to join the army. He saw action and was wounded in his right arm by gunfire. Subsequent surgery partially handicapped the use of two fingers and a thumb. However, having honed his theatrical talents, he proceeded to enter the London stage scene and was rewarded with a developing career that made him a leading man as the 1920s progressed. By 1931 he began working in British sound films, his first being The Dreyfus Case (1931) with Cedric Hardwicke. What followed were 13 B-grade movies through 1935, until The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) with Roland Young and Ralph Richardson. Zucco was on his way to America and Broadway by late 1935. He had signed to play Disraeli opposite Helen Hayes in the original play "Victoria Regina," which ran from December 1935 to June 1936. After that came a Hollywood contract and his first American picture, Sinner Take All (1936). Zucco had a sharp hawk nose, magnetic dark eyes, and an arching brow that fit well with authoritative and intimidating characters. That same year, he was in the second installment of the "Thin Man" series, followed by a series of supporting roles in nine films in 1937, usually typed as an English doctor or lord character. They were good supporting roles in "A" films, but he was also taking on darker characters. This was evident in Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) and more so with Arrest Bulldog Drummond (1938). Here, he was Rolf Alferson, alias the criminal mastermind "The Stinger," who could administer a poisonous sting from a needle at the tip of his cane. It was a typical pop movie in the pulp mystery/horror genre with the usual sort of ending, but it started him on the road as a Hollywood arch villain. That same year, he was cast as Professor Moriarty, the brilliant archenemy of the world's most famous detective in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939). Also that year, he and Hardwicke reunited to play the dark clerical heavies in the classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). Although into the early 1940s Zucco was still getting some variety in shady roles, he was increasingly accepting parts as mad doctors--ancient and otherwise--starting with The Mummy's Hand (1940), the sequel to the original The Mummy (1932). Although this was made by the relatively major Universal Pictures, Zucco began grinding out outlandish horror stuff for bottom-of-the-barrel Producers Releasing Corp. (PRC). It would be incorrect to say he sold out to the horror genre, though, even if horror buffs have made him their own. Into the later 1940s, he was still giving good accounts as nobles, judges and not-so-mad doctors in such "A" hits as Captain from Castile (1947), Joan of Arc (1948), and Madame Bovary (1949). Zucco was in real life an engaging personality and was also known as a very dependable actor. He suffered a stroke not long after his final film, David and Bathsheba (1951), once more in Egyptian garb but this time not even credited. He retired and lived on in fragile health. He evidently recovered his health enough to be offered the role of the mad scientist in Voodoo Woman (1957), but he declined. About that time, his health required a move to a nursing home, where he lived out his last years with dignity.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: William McPeak

Spouse (1)

Stella Francis (12 July 1930 - 28 May 1960) (his death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Often played doctors (usually sinister) or professors.

Trivia (10)

Quiet-spoken off stage, he was an avid dog lover who owned several German Shepherds.
His nickname on the set of Universal Studios was "One Take Zucco".
After his death he was cremated and his ashes are interred at the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
In 1951 he had a stroke on the set of The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) that would later incapacitate him almost completely.
Refused to appear in Return of the Ape Man (1944) because he considered his role ludicrous; he was still credited as being in the movie.
His 29-year-old daughter, Frances Zucco, was an award-winning equestrian and minor actress; she died exactly 20 months to the day after him from throat cancer on March 14, 1962.
His father was a merchant of Greek descent and his mother was a former lady in waiting to Queen Victoria.
Spent his final years in the Monterey Sanitarium, an assisted-living facility.
Fought in the British army during World War I. Was shot in the right arm during a battle in France, which resulted in permanent paralysis of two fingers. His badly scarred right arm can be seen in a few films, most notably Sudan (1945).
Profiled in "Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960" by Laurence Raw (2012).

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