Family & Companions
Preston Foster was a gifted actor and singer best remembered for his highly physical film roles in '40s and '50s combat dramas and westerns. A former member of the Pennsylvania Grand Opera Company, in the 1920s Foster took his robust vocal talents to the Broadway stage, landing his first movie roles by late decade. After memorable supporting parts on pre-Code classics such as "Doctor X" (1932) and "I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang" (1932), Foster starred as sharpshooter Toby Walker in the 1935 biopic "Annie Oakley," opposite Barbara Stanwyck in the title role. That same year he continued with strong performances in "The Last Days of Pompeii" (as a Roman blacksmith-turned-gladiator) and in director John Ford's Oscar-winning war drama, "The Informer." Although he gained some renown as a singer during the postwar period, Foster, beginning in the mid-'50s, became better known to television audiences as the star of the sea-adventure series "Waterfront" and the short-lived TV Western "Gunslinger."