Robert Wilcox (actor)

Robert Wilcox (May 19, 1910 – June 11, 1955) was an American film and theater actor of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

Robert Wilcox
Born(1910-05-10)May 10, 1910
DiedJune 11, 1955(1955-06-11) (aged 45)
Resting placeRiverside Cemetery in Rochester
OccupationActor
Years active1936–1954
Spouse(s)
Florence Rice
(m. 1937; div. 1939)

Diana Barrymore
(m. 1950)

Personal life

Wilcox was born in Rochester New York, the son of Dr. Roscoe Squires Wilcox of Rochester, who died when Wilcox was 16.[1][2][3] He attended Nazareth Hall Academy and John Marshall High School in Rochester.[3]

He was married twice. His first wife, whom he married in 1937 and divorced two years later. was Florence Rice, daughter of sportswriter Grantland Rice.[4] He married Diana Barrymore in 1950.[5] The five-year marriage, which ended with his death, was stormy, with repeated separations, reconciliations and police calls for domestic disturbances.[6] Barrymore chronicled their bouts with alcoholism in her 1957 autobiography, Too Much, Too Soon, which she dedicated to him.[1]

Acting career

He started his career with a Buffalo, New York, Community Theater Group.[3] His career began in earnest in 1936 after being signed by a Universal Pictures talent scout while playing Duke Mantee in a summer-stock production of The Petrified Forest.[3][4] Wilcox worked in 18 Hollywood films before World War II, starting with the role of the Intern in Let Them Live.[7][8] (Another source states that he played the romantic lead in 26 films, before going into the service for World War II.[3]) He was a contract player with Universal Studios, unhappy with his typecasting in "cops and robbers" roles.[8] He is perhaps best known for playing Bob Wayne and his alter ego, "The Copperhead", in the 1940 film serial Mysterious Doctor Satan.[9]

He was inducted into the United States Army February 27, 1942.[10] He served 38 months in the United States Army during World War II, rising from private to the rank of captain, and seeing action in Belgium, France and Germany.[1][8][11] Following the war, he returned to Rochester, and appeared in an amateur production of Soldier's Wife, a quiet comedy by Rose Franken about a veteran returning from the Pacific, presented in January 1946 by the Rochester Community Players.[8] Wilcox, according to a contemporary news report, was considering whether go back to Hollywood or to work in professional theater.[8] Only four of the 25 film credits on IMDb are dated after January 1946;[12] his post-war work was mostly on the stage.[6]

His last stage performance was in the road show Pajama Top, costarring his wife, Diana Barrymore.[13] (He was earlier married to, and divorced from, actress Florence Rice.) The production, an English translation of the French comic success, Moumou, was directed by Leonard Altobell (also a native of Rochester) and opened its national tour at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester November 8, 1954.[3]

Death

Wilcox died of a heart attack on June 11, 1955, while riding a train from New York City to Rochester to visit his mother.[6][13] A porter discovered his body in a Pullman berth when he tried to wake the actor at the Rochester train station stop.[13] He was 45 years old. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery.

References

  1. "Robert Wilcox". IMDb.
  2. Letter to the Editor of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, January 1946; archived in the 1944-1946 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
  3. Article by Hamilton B. Allen, Rochester Times Union newspaper, October 27, 1954; archived in the 1954-1955 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
  4. Wollstein, Hans J. "Excerpt from Allmovie hosted on Fandango". Retrieved 2007-10-20.
  5. "IMDb mini-biography of Diana Barrymore". Retrieved 2007-10-20.
  6. Obituary. Sarasota Herald Tribune June 13, 1955, pg. 12
  7. "Let Them Live (1937) - IMDb" via www.imdb.com.
  8. Article, Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, Rochester NY: "Footlights? Film? Actor must decide", January 1946; archived in the 1944-1946 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
  9. https://www.amazon.com/Mysterious-Doctor-Satan-Eduardo-Ciannelli/dp/6300208788
  10. New York Times, February 28, 1942
  11. "Wilcox, Back from War, Takes Lead Role in "Soldier's Wife"; newspaper article January 1946, archived in the 1944-1946 Scrapbook of the Rochester Community Players collection, Local History Department, Rochester Public Library
  12. "Robert Wilcox". IMDb.
  13. New York Times obituary, June 12, 1955


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