Charles Bickford


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.


January 1, 1891 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States