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Charles Bickford

Charles Bickford

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Also Known As: Died: November 9, 1967
Born: January 1, 1889 Cause of Death: blood infection
Birth Place: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA Profession: actor, writer, sailor, civil engineer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Red haired tough guy Charles Bickford was lured to Hollywood by an industry that wanted to mold him into a conventional leading man, but his pride and stubbornness ultimately forged a new course and he instead became one of cinema's most dependable supporting players. He received his motion picture break in Cecil B. DeMille's "Dynamite" (1929), but soon rebelled against the system and went from prestigious MGM movies to minor programmers from independent producers, the only people who would hire a man that had dared to offend MGM head Louis B. Mayer. Bickford's obvious talent usually kept him in demand, but when he was mutilated and almost killed by a lion during the making of "East of Java" (1935), he was no longer considered a viable leading man. Regardless, he soldiered on, enlivening many a lesser movie with the force of his persona, and became highly valued by casting directors in the process. Industry wide respect finally came in 1943 with "The Song of Bernadette" and the first of three Academy Award nominations the actor received. Off-screen, the strong voiced Irishman was as blunt as the characters he often played, sometimes even coming to blows with his directors. Although his various...

Red haired tough guy Charles Bickford was lured to Hollywood by an industry that wanted to mold him into a conventional leading man, but his pride and stubbornness ultimately forged a new course and he instead became one of cinema's most dependable supporting players. He received his motion picture break in Cecil B. DeMille's "Dynamite" (1929), but soon rebelled against the system and went from prestigious MGM movies to minor programmers from independent producers, the only people who would hire a man that had dared to offend MGM head Louis B. Mayer. Bickford's obvious talent usually kept him in demand, but when he was mutilated and almost killed by a lion during the making of "East of Java" (1935), he was no longer considered a viable leading man. Regardless, he soldiered on, enlivening many a lesser movie with the force of his persona, and became highly valued by casting directors in the process. Industry wide respect finally came in 1943 with "The Song of Bernadette" and the first of three Academy Award nominations the actor received. Off-screen, the strong voiced Irishman was as blunt as the characters he often played, sometimes even coming to blows with his directors. Although his various business ventures served him well financially, Bickford maintained a strong work ethic throughout his four-decade film and television career, and that dedication was evident in the consistently strong quality of work that put him in the top rank of old-school character actors.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) Benson Tropp
2.
 Days of Wine and Roses (1962) Ellis Arnesen
3.
 The Unforgiven (1960) Zeb Rawlins
4.
 The Big Country (1958) Maj. Henry Terrill
5.
 Mister Cory (1957) [Jeremiah] Biloxi [also known as Caldwell]
6.
 You Can't Run Away From It (1956) A. A. Andrews
7.
 Not As a Stranger (1955) Dr. [David W.] Runkleman
8.
 The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) Gen. Guthrie
9.
 Prince of Players (1955) Dave Prescott
10.
 A Star Is Born (1954) Oliver Niles
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1914:
Debut as burlesque performer
1919:
Stage acting debut
1929:
First film as actor

Education

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: -

Contributions

albatros1 ( 2007-11-29 )

Source: not available

Bickford was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was an intelligent but very independent and unruly child. In his late teens he drifted aimlessly around the United States for a time but eventually graduated from the MIT. He eventually joined a road company and travelled throughout the United States for more than a decade before being noticed by Cecil B. DeMille and offered a contract with MGM studios. Always of independent mind, strong-willed, Bickford would frequently argue with Mayer. Understandably, his association with MGM was short-lived, and he became an independent actor for several years before signing with Twentieth Century Fox studios. As a character actor Bickford would find his greatest success. He would establish himself as a highly sought after, powerful actor, whose screen appearances commanded attention throughout the remainder of his career. His burly frame and craggy, intense features, coupled with a gruff but powerful voice lent themselves to his being cast in a wide variety of roles in high quality productions. During the 1940s he would be nominated three times for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. In his final years, Bickford played rancher John Grainger, owner of the "Shiloh Ranch" on The Virginian NBC television series. He died in Los Angeles of a blood infection at age 76, just days after filming a 1967 Virginian episode. He had a son, Rex and a daughter, Doris.

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