Robert Montgomery (born Henry Montgomery Jr.; May 21, 1904 September 27, 1981) was an American actor who appeared in films throughout The Golden Age of Hollywood. However, his best-known work to many is from The Pre-Code Era.
He began his acting career in theatre, leading him to be popular enough to catch the attention of George Cukor and MGM, practically giving him easy access to Hollywood. His first film was So This is College in 1929 and he appeared in a few comedies, despite his interests mostly being in dramatic movies. After the studio reluctantly allowed him to appear in dramas The Big House and Inspiration with Greta Garbo in 1930, Montgomery became a household name. He continued in dramas throughout the 1930s with popular actresses like Norma Shearer, Myrna Loy, and Joan Crawford; 1937's Night Must Fall was dramatic enough to earn him his first of two Oscar nominations.
Montgomery's acting career paused for a few years as he served in the US Navy during World War II, retiring as a lieutenant commander. He made occasional appearances in films, particularly 1941's Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Carole Lombard, but also made a few directing debuts as well: his first being Film Noir Lady in the Lake, which confused critics and audiences with the camera techniques that only showed him onscreen a few times, despite being the protagonist. When the movie industry became crushed by television, Montgomery hosted a TV series throughout the 1950s called Robert Montgomery Presents, which won an Emmy, but his last movie was The Gallant Hours in 1960 with James Cagney.
Outside of Montgomery's screen career, he had a variety of other experiences, such as teaching Dwight D. Eisenhower television presentation styles, owning his own office in the White House, being president of the Screen Actors Guild twice, and has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for film and television. Modern audiences might have seen his daughter Elizabeth make appearances in films and television shows, such as Bewitched.
Robert Montgomery on TV Tropes:
- The Big House (1930)
- The Divorcee (1930)
- Free and Easy (1930)
- Our Blushing Brides (1930)
- Private Lives (1931)
- When Ladies Meet (1933)
- Forsaking All Others (1934)
- Trouble for Two (1936)
- The Last of Mrs. Cheney (1937)
- Night Must Fall (1937)
- Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
- They Were Expendable (1945)
- Lady in the Lake (1947) (also directed)
- Ride the Pink Horse (1947) (also directed)
- The Secret Land (1948) (documentary, narrator)
- Mr. Fanservice: In early pre-code movie roles, Montgomery was the handsome leading man, however, he was more of a Pretty Boy than a hunk. He even had a few shirtless scenes.
- Sharp-Dressed Man:
- Was a well-known sharply-dressed man in Hollywood. He didn't even carry a wallet in any pockets on his suits so that there wouldn't be any creases. It reflected on many of his characters, and for some admirers, it added to his leading man sex appeal.
- Myrna Loy, during her "reign" as the Queen of Hollywood, said that Montgomery should be called the Best Dressed Man in Hollywood.