Actor George Bancroft

George Bancroft (September 30, 1882 – October 2, 1956) was an American film actor, whose career spanned more than thirty years from 1925 to 1956. He was cast in many notable films alongside major film stars throughout his Hollywood years.

Early years

Bancroft was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1882. He attended Tomes Institute in Port Deposit, Maryland.

Maritime work

After working on merchant marine vessels at age 14, Bancroft was an apprentice on USS Constellation and later served on USS Essex and West Indies. Additionally, during the Battle of Manila Bay (1898), he was a gunner on USS Baltimore. During his days in the Navy, he staged plays aboard ship.

In 1900, he swam underneath the hull of the battleship USS Oregon to check the extent of the damage after it struck a rock off the coast of China. For this, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy, but found it too restrictive for his tastes and left to pursue a theatrical career.[note 1]

Acting career

In 1901, Bancroft began acting in earnest, as he toured in plays and had juvenile leads in musical comedies. In vaudeville, he did blackface routines and impersonated celebrities. His Broadway credits include the musical comedies Cinders (1923) and The Rise of Rosie O’Reilly (1923).

One of his early films was The Journey’s End (1921). Bancroft’s first starring role was in The Pony Express (1925), and the next year he played an important supporting role in a cast including Wallace Beery, Charles Farrell and Esther Ralston in the period naval widescreen epic Old Ironsides (1926), then went from historical pictures to the gritty world of the underground in Paramount Pictures productions such as von Sternberg’s Underworld (1927) and The Docks of New York (1928). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929 for Thunderbolt,[note 2] played the title role in The Wolf of Wall Street (1929, released just prior to the Wall Street Crash), and appeared in Paramount’s all-star revue Paramount on Parade (1930) and Rowland Brown’s Blood Money (1933), condemned by the censors because they feared the film would “incite law-abiding citizens to crime.”[citation needed] Bancroft had enjoyed his career height in silent pictures and none of his early sound films in which he played the lead had the same impact.

Reportedly, he refused to fall down on set after a prop revolver was fired at him, saying “Just one bullet can’t stop Bancroft!”. By 1934, he had slipped to being a supporting actor, although he still appeared in such classics as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) with Gary Cooper, Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, Each Dawn I Die (1939) with Cagney and George Raft, and Stagecoach (1939) with John Wayne and Thomas Mitchell. In 1942, he left Hollywood to be a full-time rancher.

Personal life

Bancroft first married actress Edna Brothers. Three years later, he married musical comedy star Octavia Broske. In 1934, Brothers sued him, claiming they had never divorced. Two years later, the case was settled, and Brothers obtained a divorce.


On October 2, 1956, Bancroft died in Santa Monica, California, at age 74. He was interred there in the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.

Complete filmography

  • The Journey’s End (1921) as The Ironworker
  • The Prodigal Judge (1922) as Cavendish
  • Driven (1923) as Lem Tolliver
  • Teeth (1924) as Dan Angus
  • The Deadwood Coach (1924) as Tex Wilson – in play
  • Code of the West (1925) as Enoch Thurman
  • The Rainbow Trail (1925) as Jake Willets
  • The Pony Express (1925) as Jack Slade
  • The Splendid Road (1925) as Buck Lockwell
  • The Enchanted Hill (1926) as Ira Todd
  • Sea Horses (1926) as Cochran
  • The Runaway (1926) as Lesher Skidmore
  • Old Ironsides (1926) as Gunner
  • White Gold (1927) as Sam Randall
  • Too Many Crooks (1927) as Bert the Boxman
  • Underworld (1927) as ‘Bull’ Weed
  • Tell It to Sweeney (1927) as Cannonball Casey
  • The Rough Riders (1927) as Happy Joe
  • The Showdown (1928) as Cardan
  • The Drag Net (1928) as Two-Gun Nolan
  • The Docks of New York (1928) as Bill Roberts
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (1929) as The Wolf
  • Thunderbolt (1929) as Thunderbolt Jim Lang
  • The Mighty (1929) as Blake Greeson
  • Paramount on Parade (1930) as Mug (Impulses)
  • Ladies Love Brutes (1930) as Joe Forziati
  • Derelict (1930) as Bill Rafferty
  • Scandal Sheet (1931) as Mark Flint
  • Rich Man’s Folly (1931) as Brock Trumbull
  • The World and the Flesh (1932) as Kylenko
  • Lady and Gent (1932) as Stag Bailey
  • Blood Money (1933) as Bill Bailey
  • Elmer and Elsie (1934) as Elmer Beebe
  • Hell-Ship Morgan (1936) as Captain Ira ‘Hell-Ship’ Morgan
  • Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) as MacWade
  • Wedding Present (1936) as Pete Stagg
  • A Doctor’s Diary (1937) as Dr. Clem Driscoll
  • John Meade’s Woman (1937) as Tim Mathews
  • Racketeers in Exile (1937) as William Waldo
  • Submarine Patrol (1938) as Capt. Leeds
  • Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) as Mac Keefer
  • Stagecoach (1939) as Marshal Curley Wilcox
  • Each Dawn I Die (1939) as John Armstrong
  • Espionage Agent (1939) as Dudley Garrett
  • Rulers of the Sea (1939) as Captain Oliver
  • Green Hell (1940) as ‘Tex’ Morgan
  • Young Tom Edison (1940) as Samuel ‘Sam’ Edison
  • When the Daltons Rode (1940) as Caleb Winters
  • Northwest Mounted Police (1940) as Jacques Corbeau
  • Little Men (1940) as Major Burdle
  • Texas (1941) as Windy Miller
  • The Bugle Sounds (1942) as ‘Russ’ Russell
  • Syncopation (1942) as Steve Porter
  • Whistling in Dixie (1942) as Sheriff Claude Stagg (final film role)
  • External Links

    Actor George Bancroft – Wikipedia

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