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His first taste of the fast and furious world of screen acting came with his 1923 debut as Looney Luke in director Henry King’s adventure yarn ‘Fury’, notable only for the curiosity value of the film’s leading man, Tyrone Power Snr.
After this experience he returned to the New York stage and it would be a period of six years and the advent of sound before his Hollywood journey could resume in earnest.
He found work readily in the now hectic confines of Hollywood, making three films in 1937, the most significant in terms of credit rating being director Albert S. In the last two years of the thirties he had a crash course in screen character playing, working on almost every conceivable narrative theme, including the French period swashbuckler, ‘If I Were King’, with Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone and a western ,‘Ride a Crooked Mile’, both 1938. Wellman’s star studded and Oscar nominated desert epic, ‘Beau Geste’ 1939, but still entered the forties at the lower end of an increasingly expansive actors stockpile.
A year later RKO offered her a minor role in the WW2 London set drama ‘Forever and a Day’ 1943, which brought her to the hub of the film industry and more importantly a chance to resurrect her screen career after a gap of eighteen years.His New York stage debut, an uncredited role in Jacques Coinis’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’at the 44th Street Theatre in 1915, was followed by another low key credit in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ at the Park Theatre in 1917.The following year he appeared in the long running ‘The Betrothal’, first at the Shubert, later transferring to the Century Theatre in a cast which also featured the teenaged and prospective Hollywood star, Gladys George.Between then and 1945 she appeared in nine feature films, working out of contract for almost all of the major studios in Hollywood.These included ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ and director Clarence Brown’s Academy Award winning ‘National Velvet’, all 1944 the latter with teenage daughter Angela Lansbury and noteworthy also for the first starring role of twelve year old Elizabeth Taylor.