Robert Preston

Robert Preston


Also Known As
Robert Preston Meservey
Birth Place
Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, USA
June 08, 1918
March 21, 1987
Cause of Death
Lung Cancer


Dynamic musical comedy star from the stage who began his career in entertainment appearing in rugged film melodramas (e.g., the unjustly neglected B-film, "King of Alcatraz" 1938) and occasional lighter fare in the late 1930s. His promising early appearances in the Cecil B. DeMille epics "Union Pacific" (1939), "Northwest Mounted Police" (1940) and "Reap the Wild Wind" (1942) did not, ho...

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Family & Companions

Catherine Feltus


Dynamic musical comedy star from the stage who began his career in entertainment appearing in rugged film melodramas (e.g., the unjustly neglected B-film, "King of Alcatraz" 1938) and occasional lighter fare in the late 1930s. His promising early appearances in the Cecil B. DeMille epics "Union Pacific" (1939), "Northwest Mounted Police" (1940) and "Reap the Wild Wind" (1942) did not, however, spell major stardom with the interruption of WWII. When he returned Preston did enjoy good roles in "The Macomber Affair" (1947) and "Tulsa" (1949), but it took a lengthy sojourn on the stage, in which he surprised many with his aptitude for musical comedy, for him to become a major star.

Upon returning to films in the 1960s Preston performed zestfully in the film for which he is best remembered, "The Music Man" (1962), in which he recreated his stage role of an endearing huckster turned unexpectedly successful bandleader. Late in life Preston also garnered praise for two highly amusing performances in the Blake Edwards farces, "SOB" (1981) and "Victor/Victoria" (1982).



Cast (Feature Film)

Outrage! (1986)
Finnegan Begin Again (1985)
The Last Starfighter (1984)
September Gun (1983)
Victor/Victoria (1982)
Rehearsal For Murder (1982)
S.O.B. (1981)
Irving Finegarten
Semi-Tough (1977)
My Father's House (1975)
Mame (1974)
Junior Bonner (1972)
Ace Bonner
Child's Play (1972)
Joseph Dobbs
All the Way Home (1963)
Jay Follet
Island of Love (1963)
Steve Blair
How the West Was Won (1963)
Roger Morgan
The Music Man (1962)
Harold Hill
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960)
Rubin Flood
The Last Frontier (1956)
Col. Frank Marston
Face to Face (1952)
Marshal Jack Potter
Cloudburst (1952)
John [Graham]
My Outlaw Brother (1951)
Joe Warder
When I Grow Up (1951)
Father Reed
Best of the Badmen (1951)
Matthew Fowler
The Sundowners (1950)
Kid Wichita
Whispering Smith (1949)
Murray Sinclair
The Lady Gambles (1949)
David Boothe
Tulsa (1949)
Brad "Bronco" Brady
Blood on the Moon (1948)
Tate Riling
Big City (1948)
Reverend Phillip Y. Andrews
Variety Girl (1947)
Wild Harvest (1947)
"Bashful" Jim Davis
The Macomber Affair (1947)
Francis Macomber
Night Plane from Chungking (1943)
Capt. Nick Stanton
Star Spangled Rhythm (1943)
Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
Dan Cutler
Wake Island (1942)
Joe Doyle
This Gun for Hire (1942)
Michael Crane
Pacific Blackout (1942)
New York Town (1941)
Paul Bryson, Jr.
Parachute Battalion (1941)
Donald Morse
Night of January 16th (1941)
Steve Van Ruyle
Pacific Blackout (1941)
Robert Draper
The Lady from Cheyenne (1941)
Steve [Lewis]
Typhoon (1940)
Johnny Potter
Moon over Burma (1940)
Chuck Lane
Union Pacific (1939)
Dick Allen
Beau Geste (1939)
Digby Geste
Disbarred (1939)
Bradley Kent
Illegal Traffic (1938)
[Charles] Bent Martin
King of Alcatraz (1938)
Robert MacArthur

Art Director (Feature Film)

Devil Ship (1947)
Art Director

Cast (Special)

The Night of 100 Stars II (1985)
The 38th Annual Tony Awards (1984)
Circus of the Stars (1983)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Pink Panther Thanksgiving Gala (1982)
Happy Endings (1975)
The Bells of St. Mary's (1959)
Father O'Malley

Cast (Short)

Sentinels in the Air (1956)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Chisholms (1979)
Hadley Chisholm

Life Events


Debut feature acting role, "King of Alcatraz"


Stage breakthrough with star role in "The Music Man"


Lead role in feature, "The Music Man"


Portrayed Mack in Broadway "Mack and Mabel"


Last featured leading role in a film, "Victor/Victoria"


Last screen appearance, "The Last Starfighter"

Photo Collections

How the West Was Won - Program Book
Here is the souvenir Program Book sold at Roadshow engagements for the 1962 epic in Cinerama, How the West Was Won.


Movie Clip

Blood On The Moon -- (Movie Clip) You'll Make Up The Difference Rilling (Robert Preston) brings pal Jim (Robert Mitchum) to meet crooked partner Pindalest (Frank Faylen), explaining his proposition, in Robert Wise's high-brow Western Blood On The Moon, 1948.
Music Man, The (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Till There Was You Librarian Marian (Shirley Jones) is magnanimous in her praise of huckster Professor Hill (Robert Preston), with one of composer Meredith Willson's most famous tunes from The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Trouble Robert Preston as fake Professor Harold Hill, introducing himself to River City, Iowa, with Meredith Willson's famous tune "with a capital T," his first big number in Warner Bros' The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Iowa Stubborn Just arrived on the train from Illinois, after an opening number confirming the disdain of other traveling salesmen for his scorched-earth methods, un-credentialed music professor Henry Hill (Robert Preston) hears from the folk of River City, Io-way about their own predisposition, in the hit Warner Bros. adaptation of the Meredith Willson musical, with Timmy Everett, and Paul Ford as the Mayor, in The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Shipoopi Buddy Hackett never played the part on Broadway, and was a regular on NBC’s Tonight Show at the time, but his one number as Marcellus, friend of the title character, is one of the more remembered and parodied from the landmark Meredith Willson musical, The Music Man, 1962, starring Robert Preston.
This Gun For Hire (1942) -- (Movie Clip) Are You That Broke? Boyfriend cop Mike (Robert Preston) seeing off singing magician and under-cover operative Ellen (Veronica Lake), who by chance meets Alan Ladd (as fugitive "Raven,") their first scene in their first movie together, in This Gun For Hire, 1942.
S.O.B. (1981) -- (Movie Clip) Thank God I'm Not A Surgeon With the Malibu friends of producer Felix Farmer (Richard Mulligan), suicidal after a huge flop, Robert Preston as doc Finegarten, Robert Webber as press agent Bert, William Holden director Culley, and director Blake Edwards’ daughter Jennifer as hitch-hiker Lila, early in S.O.B., 1981.
S.O.B. (1981) -- (Movie Clip) Is Batman A Transvestite? Doc Irving (Robert Preston) drugs G-rated star Sally (Julie Andrews) so she can do the topless scene producer husband Felix (Richard Mulligan) needs to rescue their flop musical, William Holden the director, Robert Webber the publicist and Loretta Swit the body-casted columnist, in Blake Edwards' S.O.B., 1981.
How The West Was Won (1962) -- (Movie Clip) I Hired This Man! From director Henry Hathaway's segment The Rivers, new partners Lilith (Debbie Reynolds) and Agatha (Thelma Ritter), first with trail guide Morgan (Robert Preston), then with persistent pursuer Van Valen (Gregory Peck), early in How The West Was Won, 1963.
S.O.B. (1981) -- (Movie Clip) Make An Armadillo Smile Still no one has noticed the dead guy on the beach, during the birthday party for nobody at the home of suicidal, sedated producer Felix (Richard Mulligan), Robert Preston as chatty doc Finegarten, William Holden as director Culley, de facto host, in Blake Edwards’ satire S.O.B., 1981.
Mame (1974) -- (Movie Clip) Title Song After wowing the crowd with her unorthodox fox hunting, Lucille Ball (title character) is welcomed into Southern society by Robert Preston, as her new husband Beauregard, with a refined delivery of Jerry Herman’s title song, shooting on location in Georgia, Gene Saks directing, in Mame, 1974.
Victor/Victoria (1982) -- (Movie Clip) Mrs. Cassidy's Little Girl An early peak in the show-stealing performance by Lesley Ann Warren as Norma, the irksome girlfriend of gangster King Marchan (James Garner), who's troubled over being aroused by what he thinks was a male performer, in Blake Edwards' Victor/Victoria, 1982.


Music Man, The (1962) -- (Original Trailer) A con artist hawks musical instruments to small towns in The Music Man (1962), based on the Broadway musical by Meredith Willson.
S.O.B. (1981) -- (Original Trailer) Emphasis on the writer-director, his wife Julie Andrews, his company of Hollywood veteran pals, and Robert Preston getting the best lines, the original trailer for Blake Edwards’ indulgent satire, S.O.B., 1981.
Whispering Smith -- (Re-issue Trailer) A railroad detective (Alan Ladd) tries to bring in a gang of train robbers and a lost love in the western adventure Whispering Smith (1949).
Wake Island - (Original Trailer) Sailors stationed in the Pacific fight off the Japanese during World War II. Released nine months after the actual battle.
Blood on the Moon - (Original Trailer) A gunslinger hired to drive off a rancher falls in love with the man's daughter in Blood on the Moon (1949), directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston.
Victor/Victoria - (Original Trailer) An unemployed female singer poses as a female impersonator and becomes a star in Victor/Victoria (1982), directed by Blake Edwards and starring Julie Andrews, James Garner and Robert Preston.
Union Pacific - (Re-issue Trailer) Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck fight to send the Union Pacific (1939) across America in Cecil B. DeMille's epic adventure.
This Gun For Hire - (Original Trailer) A hitman (Alan Ladd) dodges police while tracking down the enemy agents who tried to frame him in This Gun For Hire (1942).
How the West Was Won - (Original Trailer) Three directors and an all-star cast tell How The West Was Won (1962) starring James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne, and Henry Fonda.


Catherine Feltus