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 Academy Award 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. & Mrs. Smith with Carole Lombard, but also took a few directing turns as well, his first being the 1947 Film Noir Lady in the Lake, which confused critics and audiences with its P.O.V. Cam techniques that only showed him on screen a few times, despite playing the protagonist. With the rise of television in the 1950s, Montgomery hosted a live dramatic anthology series for NBC called Robert Montgomery Presents, which won an Emmy Award. His final big-screen project was the 1960 James Cagney film The Gallant Hours, which Montgomery directed and narrated.
Montgomery had a variety of other notable experiences outside of his screen career, which included teaching Dwight D. Eisenhower television presentation styles, having his own office inside the White House, and serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild twice. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for both his film and television work. He was married twice and had three children, and his daughter Elizabeth Montgomery was an actress in her own right, most famously as the star of the 1960s sitcom 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)
- Ever Since Eve (1937)
- 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 his early pre-Code movie roles, Montgomery was the handsome leading man. He even had a few shirtless scenes, though he was really more of a Pretty Boy than a Hunk.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Montgomery was well-known for being this, with Myrna Loy naming him as the best-dressed man in Hollywood in one interview. (He even refrained from carrying a wallet in any of his suit pockets, so 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.