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The Times (11/Nov/1968) - Obituary: Wendell Corey

(c) The Times (11/Nov/1968)



Film star and actor Wendell Corey, the American stage film and television actor, has died in Hollywood at the age of 54. He was an actor who only entered the theatre by chance, and who did not make his film debut until well into middle age.

Corey was born at Dracut, Massachusetts, on March 20, 1914. He was the son of the Rev. Milton R. Corey and was educated at the Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. As a young man he considered a variety of professions, including the law, journalism and professional tennis, but finally he began to earn his living selling washing machines. However in 1934 he was given a part in an amateur production of Street Scene in Springfield, and encouraged by this he made his first professional appearance at the Mountain Park casino. Holyoake, Massachusetts, a year later when he played in The Night of January 16th.

His acting career was thereafter reasonably but not outstandingly successful for several years, and when he was auditioned for a part in Robert Sherwood's The Rugged Path, with Spencer Tracy, but was not chosen, he seriously considered giving up the stage. But he was then given the lead in Dream Girl, in 1945, and was so successful in it that he attracted the attention of Hal Wallis, who took him to Hollywood. Here he made his screen debut in a Hal Wallis-Paramount production. Desert Fury, in 1947 with John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, and Burt Lancaster, who was also then at the beginning of his film career. In this same year, which marked the turning point in his career, he appeared with some success on the London stage at the Piccadilly theatre as Bill Page in The Voice of the Turtle by John Van Druten.

The rest of his acting career was devoted largely to the cinema, and later to television, although he did return to the theatre occasionally and notably to New York in 1956 to play in The Night of the Auk. Among the best known films in which he appeared were The Rainmaker and Hitchcock's Rear Window.

Corey was one of the first of a long line of Hollywood actors to enter politics. He became a member of Santa Monica, California, city council in 1965 and retained the post until his death. A hero of the Second World War, he was awarded the Legion of Honor by Czechoslovakia.