Actor Wendell Corey

Wendell Reid Corey (March 20, 1914 – November 8, 1968) was an American actor and politician. He was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was a board member of the Screen Actors Guild.

Biography

Early years

Corey was born in Dracut, Massachusetts, the son of Milton Rothwell Corey (October 24, 1879 – October 23, 1951) and Julia Etta McKenney (April 11, 1882 – June 16, 1947). His father was a Congregationalist clergyman and an actor who appeared in Rawhide. Wendell was educated in Springfield, Massachusetts. His ancestors included U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

Before becoming an actor, Corey was a washing-machine salesman in a department store.

Stage

Corey “began acting in 1938 with the depression-spawned Federal Theatre Project”. His Broadway debut was in Comes the Revelation (1942), which had a short run. He followed it with the mildly popular Strip for Action (1942–43) by Lindsay and Crouse; The First Million (1943); Manhattan Nocturne (1943) directed by Stella Adler; Jackpot (1944); But Not Goodbye (1944) by George Seaton; and The Wind is Ninety with Kirk Douglas.

Most of these had short runs. Corey had his first hit as a cynical newspaperman in Elmer Rice’s comedy Dream Girl (1945). While appearing in the play, Corey was seen by producer Hal Wallis, who persuaded him to sign a contract with Paramount and pursue a motion picture career in Hollywood.

Film

After appearing in a U.S. Army short film on venereal disease entitled Easy to Get in 1947, Corey’s feature film debut came as a gangster in Wallis’s Desert Fury (1947) starring Burt Lancaster, John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, and Mary Astor. In 1947 he appeared in The Voice of the Turtle on stage with Margaret Sullavan in England. His second film was another for Wallis with Lancaster and Scott, I Walk Alone (1948). Both movies were popular.

Corey was borrowed by MGM to appear in The Search (1948) alongside Montgomery Clift for director Fred Zinnemann. Byron Haskin, who had directed Corey in I Walk Alone, used him in Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948) at Universal; he was second billed to Sabu.

For Wallis he supported Lancaster again in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), playing a doctor who treats Barbara Stanwyck. He was a cop in The Accused (1949) with Loretta Young and Robert Cummings.

MGM borrowed Corey for a popular gambling drama Any Number Can Play (1949), supporting Clark Gable and Alexis Smith. Less popular was Holiday Affair (1949) at RKO where Corey was billed after Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh.

Wallis promoted him to co-star status in The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) where he appeared opposite Barbara Stanwyck. Corey had a good part in Columbia’s No Sad Songs for Me (1950) playing Margaret Sullavan’s husband. Wallis re-teamed him with Stanwyck in a Western, The Furies (1950), best remembered as Walter Huston’s final film. Corey appeared opposite another strong female star, Joan Crawford, in Harriet Craig (1950) at Columbia.

He co-starred with Lana Turner in A Life of Her Own but pulled out after only a few days claiming he was miscast. He was replaced by Ray Milland.

Corey was top billed in Paramount’s Western The Great Missouri Raid (1951), playing Frank James.

At MGM Corey played Jane Powell’s father in a musical Rich, Young and Pretty (1951). He went to Republic Pictures where he was top billed in a war film The Wild Blue Yonder (1951). He took time off to appear on stage in England in The Voice of the Turtle and toured on stage on the Coast in Sabrina Fair.

Back at MGM Corey co-starred with Stewart Granger in The Wild North (1952), a popular adventure movie; he supported James Stewart in Carbine Williams (1952) a biopic and had a support role in My Man and I (1952).

Wallis sold Corey’s contract to Paramount in 1952. Corey supported Ray Milland in Jamaica Run (1952) for Paramount. He went to England to appear in The Voice of the Turtle on stage. While there he appeared in Laughing Anne (1953) with Margaret Lockwood. Back in the US he was in Hell’s Half Acre (1954) for Republic.

Corey had one of his most memorable roles when he played Lt. Thomas Doyle in Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. He toured the US on stage in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial in 1954.

He appeared in The Big Knife (1955) starring Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, and Shelley Winters; The Killer Is Loose (1956), playing a criminal after Joseph Cotten; The Bold and the Brave (1956) with Mickey Rooney at RKO; The Rack (1956), a Korean War drama at MGM, where Corey was billed after Paul Newman.

Corey returned to Broadway for The Night of the Auk (1956) by Arch Oboler directed by Sidney Lumet, but it had a short run.

He made two more films for Wallis: The Rainmaker (1956) starring Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn, and Loving You (1957) with Elvis Presley, in his second starring role, and Lizabeth Scott.

Television

Corey portrayed Lou Gehrig in “The Lou Gehrig Story” for the television series Climax! (1955). He was a series lead in Harbor Command (1957–1958). For Disney he was in the film The Light in the Forest (1958). Then he played Jesse James in the Bob Hope comedy Alias Jesse James (1959) and had a short Broadway run in Jolly’s Progress (1959) with Eartha Kitt.

Corey co-starred on The Nanette Fabray Show (1961), where he played a widower who married Fabray’s character. He played the lead role of Dr. Theodore Bassett in the first season of the medical drama The Eleventh Hour (1962–1963).

Corey made guest appearances on a number of programs, including Target: The Corruptors!, Channing, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, Burke’s Law and The Wild Wild West. He made a guest appearance during the final season of Perry Mason in 1966 as murder victim Jerome Klee in “The Case of the Unwelcome Well.”

Final films

His final films included Blood on the Arrow (1964),a Western; Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966), a spy film; Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), a science fiction film in which Corey was top billed; Waco (1966) and Red Tomahawk (1966), two Westerns with Howard Keel; Cyborg 2087 (1966), more science fiction; Picture Mommy Dead (1966) a horror movie with Don Ameche; Buckskin (1968), a Western. His last film appearance was in Ted V. Mikels’s The Astro-Zombies (1968).

Other activities

Corey was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1961 to 1963 and was a member of the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild. A Republican campaigner in national politics since 1956, Corey was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in April 1965. The conservative politician ran for a California seat in the United States Congress in 1966, but lost the primary election. He was still a councilman at the time of his death.

Corey supported Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential election.

Family

Corey and Alice Wiley had one son and three daughters, Jonathan, Jennifer, Bonnie Alice, and Robin.

Death

Corey died November 8, 1968, at age 54 at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, of cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism. Funeral services were held at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, California. He is interred in North Cemetery in Becket, Massachusetts.

Walk of Fame

Wendell Corey has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame awarded for his work in TV, at 6328 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1947 Desert Fury Johnny Ryan
1948 I Walk Alone Dave
The Search Jerry Fisher
Man-Eater of Kumaon Dr. John Collins
Sorry, Wrong Number Doctor Alexander
1949 The Accused Lt. Ted Dorgan
Any Number Can Play Robbin Elcott
Holiday Affair Carl Davis
1950 The File on Thelma Jordon Cleve Marshall
No Sad Songs for Me Brad Scott
The Furies Rip Darrow
Harriet Craig Walter Craig
1951 The Great Missouri Raid Frank James
Rich, Young and Pretty Jim Stauton Rogers
The Wild Blue Yonder Capt. Harold Calvert
1952 The Wild North Constable Pedley
Carbine Williams Capt. H.T. Peoples
My Man and I Ansel Ames
1953 Jamaica Run Todd Dacey
Laughing Anne Capt. Davidson
1954 Hell’s Half Acre Chet Chester
Rear Window Det. Lt. Thomas J. “Tom” Doyle
1955 The Big Knife Smiley Coy
1956 The Killer Is Loose Leon Poole
The Bold and the Brave Dave Fairchild
The Rack Maj. Sam Moulton
The Rainmaker Deputy Sheriff J.S. File
1957 Loving You Walter “Tex” Warner
1958 The Light in the Forest Wilse Owens
1959 Alias Jesse James T.J. “Jesse” James
1964 Blood on the Arrow Clint Mailer
1966 Agent for H.A.R.M. Jim Graff
Broken Sabre Major Whitcomb (episodes of Branded edited for a feature film)
Women of the Prehistoric Planet Adm. David King
Waco Preacher Sam Stone
Cyborg 2087 Sheriff
Picture Mommy Dead Lawyer Clayborn
1967 Red Tomahawk Sy Elkins
1968 Buckskin Rep Marlowe
The Star Maker Paul Lemont
1969 The Astro-Zombies Holman (final film role)

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Cavalcade of America Away Boarders
1952 Broadway Playhouse The Big Clock
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air Kate Fennigate
1953 Stars over Hollywood Bus Driver’s Holiday

External Links

Actor Wendell Corey – Wikipedia

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