Morris Ankrum

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Morris Ankrum
BornMorris Nussbaum
(1896-08-27)August 27, 1896
Danville, Illinois, U.S.
DiedSeptember 2, 1964(1964-09-02) (aged 68)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Years active1933–64
Spouse(s)Joan Wheeler (1935–64)
Gillian Gilbert (? - ?)
 
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Morris Ankrum
BornMorris Nussbaum
(1896-08-27)August 27, 1896
Danville, Illinois, U.S.
DiedSeptember 2, 1964(1964-09-02) (aged 68)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
Years active1933–64
Spouse(s)Joan Wheeler (1935–64)
Gillian Gilbert (? - ?)

Morris Ankrum (August 28, 1896 – September 2, 1964) was an American radio, television and film character actor.

Contents

Early life

Born Morris Nussbaum in Danville, Illinois, Ankrum originally began a career in academics. After graduating from USC with a law degree, he went on to an associate professorship in economics at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley he became involved in the drama department and eventually began teaching drama and directing at the Pasadena Playhouse.[1]

From 1923 to 1939, he acted in several Broadway stage productions, including The Big Blow and Within the Gates.

Film career

Before signing with Paramount Pictures in the 1930s, Nussbaum had already changed his last name to Ankrum. Upon signing with the studio, he chose to use the name "Stephen Morris" before changing it to Morris Ankrum in 1939.[2]

Ankrum's stern visage and sharply defined features helped cast him in supporting roles as stalwart authority figures, including scientists, military men (particularly army officers), judges and even psychiatrists in over 70 films, mostly B movies. His film career was extensive, spanning 30 years. His credits were largely concentrated in the western and science fiction genres.

Ankrum appeared in such westerns as Ride 'Em Cowboy in 1942, Vera Cruz opposite Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, Apache (1954) and Cattle Queen of Montana with Barbara Stanwyck and Ronald Reagan.

In the sci-fi genre he appeared in Rocketship X-M; Red Planet Mars, providing support to the film's deity-seeking scientist, Peter Graves in another government role as U.S. Secretary of Defense; the cult classic Invaders From Mars (1953), playing Col. Fielding, a U.S. Army officer out to save the Earth from the "Invaders"; and as an Army general in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) alongside Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor. He played a psychiatrist in the cult sci-fi classic Kronos (1957). He also played a military officer in Beginning of the End (1957).

Later years

By the end of 1958, Ankrum's film career had essentially ended, though he continued taking television roles. In the syndicated television series, Stories of the Century, Ankrum played the outlaw Chris Evans, who with his young associate, John Sontag, played by John Smith, turned to crime to thwart the Southern Pacific Railroad, consistent with the theme of Frank Norris's muckraking novel, The Octopus: A Story of California.[3]

Ankrum made twenty-two appearances on Perry Mason as one of several judges who regularly presided over the murder trials of Mason's clients from the show's first season in 1957 to his death in 1964. The show ended in 1966.

Ankrum appeared in The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Cimarron City, Dennis the Menace, Cheyene and Rawhide. In the 1958-1959 season, he appeared twelve times in Richard Carlson's syndicated western series Mackenzie's Raiders, along with other cast "raiders" Brett King and Louis Jean Heydt.

Ankrum made occasional uncredited appearances in several Roger Corman films.

On October 15, 1957, Ankrum had a major part in the episode "Strange Land" of ABC's western Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins. Ankrum played a bitter rancher named Cash Billings, who allows a hired gunman, Burr Fulton, portrayed by Rhodes Reason, to take over his spread, but Sugarfoot arrives to bring law and justice to the situation. Jan Chaney appears in the episode as Billings' daughter, Anne, who takes a liking to Sugarfoot.[4]

During this time, he was still involved in live theatre, and continued to direct plays at the Pasadena Playhouse.[1]

He and Joan Wheeler had a child, David Ankrum, best known as Adam from Tabitha. David Ankrum eventually became a Hollywood agent. [1]

Death

On September 2, 1964, Ankrum died of trichinosis. At the time of his death, he had a recurring role as a judge on Perry Mason.[1] In fact, his final appearance on the series was aired after his death on October 15, 1964.

Selected filmography

Television

References

  1. ^ a b c Morris Ankrum biography
  2. ^ Morris Ankrum: Biography
  3. ^ "Stories of the Century: "Sontag and Evans", February 8, 1955". Internet Movie Data Base. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0710964/. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  4. ^ ""The Strange Land", October 15, 1957". Internet Movie Data Base. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0712923/. Retrieved August 24, 2012.

External links