Robert Cummings

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Robert Cummings
Robert Cummings 1956.jpg
Robert Cummings, 1956
Born Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings
(1910-06-09)June 9, 1910
Joplin, Missouri, U.S.
Died December 2, 1990(1990-12-02) (aged 80)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Renal failure; pneumonia
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Other names Bob Cummings
Blade Stanhope Conway
Bruce Hutchens
Alma mater American Academy of Dramatic Arts
Occupation Actor
Years active 1931–1990
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
  • Emma Myers
    (m. 1931; div. 1933)
  • Vivi Janiss
    (m. 1933; div. 1945)
  • Mary Elliott
    (m. 1945; div. 1970)
  • Gina Fong
    (m. 1971; div. 1987)
  • Martha Burzynski
    (m. 1989)

Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings (June 9, 1910 – December 2, 1990),[1] was an American film and television actor known mainly for his roles in comedy films such as The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) and Princess O'Rourke (1943), but was also effective in dramatic films, especially two of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, Saboteur (1942) and Dial M for Murder (1954).[2] Cummings received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Single Performance in 1955. On February 8, 1960, he received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture and television industries.[1] The motion picture star is at 6816 Hollywood Boulevard, the television star is on 1718 Vine Street.[3]

Early life[edit]

Cummings was born in Joplin, Missouri, a son of Dr. Charles Clarence Cummings and the former Ruth Annabelle Kraft.[4] His father was a surgeon, who was part of the original medical staff of St. John's Hospital in Joplin. He was the founder of the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital in Webb City, Missouri.[5] Cummings' mother was an ordained minister of the Science of Mind.[4]

While attending Joplin High School, Cummings was taught to fly by his godfather, Orville Wright, the aviation pioneer.[2] His first solo was on March 3, 1927.[6] During high school, Cummings gave Joplin residents rides in his aircraft for $5 per person.[5]

When the government began licensing flight instructors, Cummings was issued flight instructor certificate No. 1, making him the first official flight instructor in the United States.[6][7]

Education[edit]

Cummings studied briefly at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, but his love of flying caused him to transfer to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He studied aeronautical engineering for a year before he dropped out because of financial reasons, his family having lost heavily in the 1929 stock market crash.[5][8]

Cummings became interested in acting while performing in plays at Carnegie and decided to pursue that as a career.[9] Since the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City paid its male actors $14 a week, Cummings decided to study there.[10]

Acting career[edit]

Blade Stanhope Conway[edit]

Cummings started looking for work in 1930 but was unable to find any roles.[5] Seeing that at the time, "three quarters of Broadway plays were from England"[11] and English accents and actors were in demand, Cummings decided to cash in an insurance policy and buy a round trip to Britain.[12]

He was driving a motorbike through the country, picking up the accent and learning about the country. His bike broke down at Harrogate. While waiting for repairs, Cummings came up with a plan. He invented the name "Blade Stanhope Conway" and bribed the janitor of a local theatre to put on the marquee: "Blade Stanhope Conway in Candida". He then got a photograph taken of himself standing in front of this marquee and did eighty prints. In London, he outfitted himself with a new wardrobe and did up a letter introducing the actor-author-manager-director "Blade" of Harrogate Repertory Theatre, and sent it off to 80 New York theatrical agents and producers.[11]

Cummings arrived in New York and managed to obtain several meetings.[10][5]

One of the producers he sent letters to, Charles Hopkings, cast him in a production of The Roof by John Galsworthy, playing the role of the Hon. Reggie Fanning. Also in the cast was Henry Hull.[13] The play ran from October to November 1931 and Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times listed "Conway" as among the cast who provide "some excellent bits of acting."[14]

In November 1932 "Conway" replaced Edwin Styles in the Broadway revue Earl Carroll's Vanities.[15] He had studied song and dance via correspondence course.[16]

Cummings later encouraged an old drama school classmate, Margaret Kies to use a similar deception - she became the "British" Margaret Lindsay.[9] He later said pretending to be Conway broke up his first marriage, to a girl from Joplin. "She couldn't stand me."[17]

He was an extra in Sons of the Desert (1933)[18] and in the musical short Seasoned Greetings (1933).

Bryce Hutchens[edit]

Cummings decided to change his approach when, in the words of one report, "suddenly the bottom dropped out of the John Bull market; almost overnight, demand switched from Londoners to lassoers."[11]

In 1934, Cummings changed his name to "Bryce Hutchens"[10][5][19] He appeared under this name in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 which ran from January to June in 1934.[20][21] He had a duet with Vivi Janiss, a native of Nebraska, with whom he sang "I Like the Likes of You".[22] Cummings and Janiss went with the show when it went on tour after the Broadway run, and they married towards the end of the tour.[8]

Paramount[edit]

The tour of Ziegfeld ended in Los Angeles in January 1935. Cummings enjoyed the city and wanted to move there.[23][8] He returned to New York, but then heard King Vidor was looking for Texan actors for So Red the Rose (1935) and auditioned pretending to be Texan. He practised his Texan accent by listening to cowboy bands on the radio.[11]

The ruse was exposed but Vidor cast him anyway, under his real name.[16][24][12] (Reviewing the film later, the New York Times said Cummings "does a fine bit" and "has the only convincing accent in the whole film."[25])

He followed it with a part in Paramount's The Virginia Judge (1935).[26] In July, the studio signed Cummings to a long term contract.[27] Before his first two Paramount films had even been released, he was given a leading part in Millions in the Air (1935).[5][28]

Cummings had a good role in the Western Desert Gold (1936) then was in Forgotten Faces (1936), Border Flight (1936), Three Cheers for Love (1936), Hollywood Boulevard (1936), The Accusing Finger (1936), Hideaway Girl (1936), Arizona Mahoney (1936), and The Last Train from Madrid (1937).[29][16]

In the mid 1930s he and his mother reportedly received $1 million from mining stock, once thought to be worthless, which was left to them by Cummings' father.[30]

Most of these were 'B' pictures. He had a small role in an 'A' picture, Souls at Sea (1937), then was in Sophie Lang Goes West (1937), Wells Fargo (1937), and College Swing (1938). He had a small role in You and Me (1938) directed by Fritz Lang, and was in The Texans (1938), and Touchdown, Army (1938).

Eventually Paramount dropped their option on him. "I was poison," he said. "No agent would look at me."[17]

He eventually got a job at Republic playing the lead in a crime movie, I Stand Accused (1938). Cummings says it was "a fluke hit. So at least I could get inside the casting agents again."[17]

Universal[edit]

In November 1938 Cummings auditioned for the romantic lead in Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939), starring Deanna Durbin, for producer Joe Pasternak.[31] He says Pasternak was reluctant to cast him because the producer wanted a musician, but Cummings told him "I could fake it. I'd had a lot of experience faking things harder than that. He let me try it and he signed me up."[17]

In December, Cummings gave Universal an option on a long term contract.[32] The film was a big success and in March 1939 Universal took up their option on the actor. Pasternak used him again, supporting another singing star, Gloria Jean, in The Under-Pup (1939).[33]

He supported Basil Rathbone and Victor McLaglen in Rio (1939), then was borrowed by 20th Century Fox to romance Sonia Henie in Everything Happens at Night (1939). He was borrowed by MGM to play the lead in a "B" with Laraine Day, And One Was Beautiful (1940).

Back at Universal Cummings was the romantic male lead a comedy, Private Affairs (1940), then he romanced Durbin again in Spring Parade (1940).

Cummings made his mark in the CBS Radio network's dramatic serial titled Those We Love, which ran from 1938 to 1945. Cummings played the role of David Adair, opposite Richard Cromwell, Francis X. Bushman, and Nan Grey.

A series of classic films[edit]

Robert Cummings in Saboteur, 1942

Cummings and Allan Jones were the two leads of the comedy One Night in the Tropics (1940), but the film was stolen by two comics who had supporting roles, Abbott and Costello.

MGM borrowed Cummings a second time to play opposite Ruth Hussey in a "B", Free and Easy (1941). At the same time he was borrowed by a company established by Norman Krasna and Frank Ross who were making a comedy from a script by Krasna for release through RKO: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941). Cummings played Jean Arthur's love interest, a union leader, under the direction of Sam Wood. Cummings shot the film at the same time as Free and Easy.[34] Free and Easy lost money for MGM, but Devil and Miss Jones was a critical and commercial success.

20th Century Fox borrowed him for Moon Over Miami (1941), starring Don Ameche and Betty Grable; Fox were willing to postpone the film so Cummings could finish Devil and Miss Jones.[35] The film was a huge hit, launching Grable as a star.

Back at Universal, Pasternak used Cummings as the romantic male lead in It Started with Eve (1941), from a script by Krasna, opposite Deanna Durbin and Charles Laughton. Meanwhile, Sam Wood was directing an adaptation of the novel Kings Row (1942), over at Warner Bros where the head of production was Hal Wallis. Wallis did not have any contract players at Warners who were considered ideal for the role of Paris and tried to borrow Cummings. However Cummings was busy on It Started with Eve and the actor had to drop out. Then the schedule was re-arranged and Cummings was able to make both films.[36] Production of Kings Row did have to be suspended for a week so Cummings could return to Universal to do reshoots for Eve.[37] Both films were huge successes.

Back at Universal, Cummings starred in the Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller Saboteur (1942), made at Universal, with Priscilla Lane and Norman Lloyd. He played Barry Kane, an aircraft worker wrongfully accused of espionage, trying to clear his name.[38]

In December 1941 John Chapman said Cummings was among "the most sought after leading men in town" and was one of his "stars for 1942".[39]

Universal announced Cummings for Boy Meets Baby with Deanna Durbin[40] which became Between Us Girls (1942) with Diana Barrymore. He filmed it concurrently with a Hal Wallis movie at Warners, and Princess O'Rourke (made 1942, released 1943), Norman Krasna's directorial debut.

Cummings was meant to be in We've Never Been Licked for Walter Wanger at Universal but it appears to have not been made.[41]

World War II[edit]

In November 1942, Cummings joined the United States Army Air Forces.[42] During World War II, he served as a flight instructor.[2][5] After the war, Cummings served as a pilot in the United States Air Force Reserve, where he achieved the rank of Captain.[43] Cummings played aircraft pilots in several of his postwar film roles.

During the war service he had small roles in the all-star Forever and a Day (1943) and Flesh and Fantasy (1943). But he was effectively off screen for two years.[44]

Suspension from Universal[edit]

Cummings was meant to be in Fired Wife with Teresa Wright, Charles Coburn and Eddie Anderson. However, when he found out these actors would not be in the film he refused to be in it. (Filming began in April 1943 with Robert Paige taking Cummings' role.[45]) Universal put him on suspension, refused to give him a new part or pay his weekly salary of $1,500. Cummings notified the studio in May 1943 that he considered himself no longer under contract. In September 1943 Cummings sued the studio for withheld wages of $10,700, also arguing that for some time Universal tried to put him in minor roles to "run him ragged" and "to teach him a lesson".[46]

In March 1944 the court ruled in Cummings' favor, saying Universal had voided its contract with the actor and owed him $10,700. This decision happened in the same fortnight as another court case involving Olivia de Havilland which also ruled in the actors' favor.[47]

Hal Wallis[edit]

In 1945 he took leave from the Air Force to star in You Came Along (1945) for Hal B. Wallis, directed by John Farrow with a screenplay by Ayn Rand. The Army Air Forces pilot Cummings played ("Bob Collins") died off camera, but was resurrected ten years later for his television show. Cummings was under contract to Wallis for four years.[44]

Also for Wallis - who had now moved to Paramount - he did The Bride Wore Boots (1946), a comedy with Barbara Stanwyck. He was announced for Dishonorable Discharge for Wallis from a story by John Farrow but it appears to have not been made.[48] Neither was Its Love Love Love which was announced by RKO[49] or Dream Puss, which Wallis announced for Cummings at Paramount.[50]

In 1946 he said "often I play the boyfriend of a girl young enough to be my daughter. I'm 36 and whenever I start drooping I run one of my pictures and feel like a kid again."[51]

Around this time Cummings also said he was more interested in producing and directing and hoped to only act in one film per year.[52]

United California Productions[edit]

Cummings had the lead in two films for Nero Films, a company of Seymour Nebenzal and Eugene Frenke who released through United Artists: a film noir, The Chase (1946) and a Western, Heaven Only Knows (1947).

Cummings decided to form his own company with Frenke and Philip Yordan, United California (at one stage it was known as United World but the name had to be changed as it was too close to another company of that name.[53][54]). In December 1946 it was announced Cummings had signed an exclusive contract United California Productions, apart from a deal with Wallis to make one film a year for seven years.[55][56] They announced Bad Guy from a script by Yordan.[57] They were also going to do Joe MacBeth[58] (ultimately made by other people).

In 1947, Cummings had reportedly earned $110,000 in the past 12 months.[59]

The Lost Moment (1947) was a film noir for Walter Wanger at Universal based on The Aspern Papers by Henry James. It was a big flop at the box office.

Sleep, My Love (1948) was more successful; another noir, directed by Douglas Sirk.

United California eventually brought in manufacturer Frank Hale as partner. Its first film, Let's Live a Little (1948) was a romantic comedy with Hedy Lamarr, and was released through United Artists.

Cummings announced a series of projects for United California: Ho the Fair Wind from a novel by IAR Wylie, The Glass Heart by Mary Holland, Poisonous Paradise (a docu-drama for which some footage had been shot called Jungle), Passport to Love by Howard Irving Young, and a remake of Two Hearts in Three Quarter Time. Cummings was also trying to interest Norman Krasna into writing the story of how Cummings broke into acting, to be called Pardon My Accent.[60][61][62]

Cummings did The Accused (1949) for Hall Wallis at Paramount, supporting Loretta Young.

Reign of Terror (1949) was a thriller set in the French Revolution for director Anthony Mann; Eagle Lion co-produced with United California.[63]

He did a comedy at Universal, Free for All (1949).

Columbia[edit]

In July 1949, Cummings signed a three-picture deal with Columbia.[64] He made Tell It to the Judge (1949), with Rosalind Russell, for them. He did one for Wallis at Paramount, Paid in Full (1950) (originally Bitter Victory), then went back to Columbia for The Petty Girl (1950) a musical with Joan Caulfield.

Cummings did announce he would make The Glass Heart for his own company and release through Columbia but this did not happen.[65]

Cummings supported Clifton Webb in For Heaven's Sake (1950) at Fox, then played a con man in The Barefoot Mailman (1950), his third film for Columbia.

Cummings began working in television, appearing in Sure as Fate ("Run from the Sun") and Somerset Maugham TV Theatre ("The Luncheon").

He was in a Broadway play Faithfully Yours (originally The Philemon Complex) which had a short run in late 1951.[66][67]

At Columbia he was in The First Time (1952), the first feature directed by Frank Tashlin. On TV he was in Lux Video Theatre ("The Shiny People", "Pattern for Glory"), Betty Crocker Star Matinee ("Sense of Humor"), and Robert Montgomery Presents ("Lila My Love").

Cummings was one of the four stars featured in the short-run radio version of Four Star Playhouse.

He was offered Battle in Spain, the story of El Cid, with Linda Darnell, but turned it down because it was too controversial.[68]

My Hero[edit]

Cummings starred in his first regular series on television in the comedy My Hero (1952–53), where he played a bumbling real estate salesman. Cummings also wrote and directed some episodes.[69]

"It's tricky to come up with something every week that's tricky and believable," said producer Don Sharpe. "We hope that eventually the personality of Cummings will become so dominant to the viewer that the plots won't look bad."[70]

The series ran for 33 episodes before, it was reported, Cummings decided to end it and accept other offers.[71] In actual fact the show had been axed. "After it was dropped I was as dead as you could possibly get in show business," said Cummings. "I sat in my agent's office one day and heard a top producer tell him on the phone that nobody would buy me."[72] Out of work, he accepted the State Department's invitation to go on a goodwill mission to Argentina.[72]

The show earned him an Emmy nomination.[73]

Cummings was in Marry Me Again (1953), at RKO for Tashlin, then went to England to star in another Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder (1954), playing the lover of Grace Kelly whose husband Ray Milland tries to kill her. The film was a box-office success.[2][5]

Cummings then supported Doris Day in a musical at Warners, Lucky Me (1954).[74]

Cummings was chosen by producer John Wayne as his co-star to play airline pilot Captain Sullivan in The High and the Mighty, partly due to Cummings' flying experience; however, director William A. Wellman overruled Wayne and hired Robert Stack for the part.[75]

Twelve Angry Men[edit]

In 1954 he appeared in an original TV play for Westinghouse Studio One written by Reginald Rose and directed by Franklin Schaffner, Twelve Angry Men, alongside actors such as Franchot Tone and Edward Arnold. Cummings played Juror Number Eight, the role taken by Henry Fonda in the feature film adaptation.[5] Cumming's performance earned him the 1955 Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Single Performance.[76]

Other television appearances included Campbell Summer Soundstage ("The Test Case"), Justice ("The Crisis"), The Elgin Hour ("Floodtide"), and a TV version of Best Foot Forward (1954).

In July 1954 Cummings formed his own production company, Laurel (named after his daughter and the street he lived in, Laurel Way). He intended to make a film called The Damned from a novel by John D. MacDonald directed by Frank Tashlin.[77] No film resulted, but Lauren would make The Bob Cummings Show.[78]

The Bob Cummings Show[edit]

From January 1955 through 1959, Cummings starred on a successful NBC sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show (known as Love That Bob in reruns), in which he played Bob Collins, a former World War II pilot who became a successful professional photographer. As a bachelor in 1950s Los Angeles, the character considered himself quite the ladies' man. This sitcom was noted for some very risqué humor for its time.[citation needed]

A popular feature of the program was Cummings' portrayal of his elderly grandfather. His co-stars were Rosemary DeCamp as his sister, Margaret MacDonald, Dwayne Hickman, as his nephew, Chuck MacDonald, and Ann B. Davis, in her first television success, as his assistant Charmaine "Schultzy" Schultz. Cummings also was a guest on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood.[5]

Cummings was seen on the show by Nunnally Johnson who cast him opposite Betty Grable in How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955) at Fox, which turned out to be Grable's last film. Cummings contract was amended to allow him time off to rehearse and record his show.[79]

Around this time Cummings said he had made 78 films and "I always had the feeling I was distinguished for none of them. Hollywood's never been really hot about me. I was always second choice. I used to say to my wife Mary 'Somebody's got to be sick someday - Bill Holden or maybe some boy not even born yet! I used to say 'If I could find another business where I could be successful!."[73]

Cummings was one of the hosts on ABC's live broadcast of the opening day of Disneyland on July 17, 1955, along with Ronald Reagan and Art Linkletter. On that day, during ABC's live broadcast of the grand opening of Disneyland in 1955, Bob Cummings realized the camera was on him, when, just moments before, he'd been passionately embracing the young woman in a bonnet with the stricken look on [1] her face.[80]

Cummings' performance in The Bob Cummings Show earned him another Emmy nomination for Best Actor in a Continuous Role in 1956.[81]

He turned down The Heavenly Twins for the Theatre Guild and was mentioned for Bewitched by Charles Bennett in England but did not do it.[82]

During the series' production Cummings still found time to play other roles. He returned to Studio One ("A Special Announcement"), and did episodes of General Electric Theater ("Too Good with a Gun"), The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, and Schlitz Playhouse ("One Left Over", "Dual Control").

He was also in "Bomber's Moon" for Playhouse 90 (1958), from a Rod Serling script directed by John Frankenheimer who said "Bobby's a really fine dramatic actor but people usually associate him only with comedy. Naturally enough I suppose. Directing an actor like this who feels immediately what the script wants and what the director wants makes you love this business."[83]

"It's a great life, acting," he said in 1959. "I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm a completely content actor."[84]

When the show ended in 1959, Cummings claimed it was his decision as he was tired and wanted to take a year off. He was also keen to sell the show into syndication. "I don't think I'll do another comedy," he said.[85]

In 1960 Cummings starred in "King Nine Will Not Return", the opening episode of the second season of CBS's The Twilight Zone, written by Serling and directed by Buzz Kulik.

He guested on Zane Grey Theater ("The Last Bugle", directed by Budd Boetticher), The DuPont Show of the Week ("The Action in New Orleans"), The Dick Powell Theatre ("Last of the Private Eyes", co-starring Ronald Reagan), and The Great Adventure ("Plague").

The New Bob Cummings Show[edit]

The New Bob Cummings Show followed on CBS for one season, from 1961 to 1962. It was a variation of The Bob Cummings Show with Cummings as the owner and pilot of a plane who gets up to various adventures[86] It only lasted 22 episodes before being cancelled.[87]

Cummings returned to films with support roles in My Geisha (1962), written by Krasna. He was top billed in Beach Party (1963) although the film is better remembered today for introducing the teaming of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

He had good support roles in two popular films The Carpetbaggers (1964) and What a Way to Go! (1964), and was in Theatre of Stars ("The Square Peg").

In 1964, he was a guest star as a beauty pageant judge in The Beverly Hillbillies episode titled "The Race for Queen." He was credited as Robert Cummings.

My Living Doll[edit]

Robert Cummings and Julie Newmar in a publicity still for My Living Doll

In 1964–65 Cummings starred in another CBS sitcom, My Living Doll, which co-starred Julie Newmar as Rhoda the robot and Jack Mullaley as his friend. After 21 episodes Cummings asked to be written out of the show.[88] It only lasted five more episodes.

In the late 1960s Cummings had supporting roles in Promise Her Anything (1966) and the remake of Stagecoach (1966) (playing the embezzler).

Cummings had the lead in Five Golden Dragons (1967) for producer Harry Alan Towers and supported in Gidget Grows Up (1969).

He was in another Broadway play, The Wayward Stork which had a short run in early 1966[89] and guest starred again on Theatre of Stars ("Blind Man's Bluff"), as well as The Flying Nun ("Speak the Speech, I Pray You"), Green Acres ("Rest and Relaxation"), Here Come the Brides ("The She-Bear"), Arnie ("Hello, Holly"), Bewitched ("Samantha and the Troll"), Here's Lucy ("Lucy's Punctured Romance", "Lucy and Her Genuine Twimby") and several episodes of Love, American Style.[90]

Cummings also worked extensively in dinner theatre.

Cummings' last lead roles on film were in a pair of TV movies, The Great American Beauty Contest (1973) and Partners in Crime (1973).

Later career[edit]

During the 1970s for over 10 years Cummings traveled the US performing in dinner theaters and short stints in plays while living in an Airstream Travel Trailer.

He relayed those experiences in the written introduction he provided for the book "AIRSTREAM" written by Robert Landau and James Phillippi in 1984.[91]

Cummings had a cameo in Three on a Date (1978) and appeared in 1979 as Elliott Smith, the father of Fred Grandy's Gopher on ABC's The Love Boat.[92]

In 1986, Cummings hosted the 15th anniversary celebr₰ation of Walt Disney World on The Wonderful World of Disney.

In 1987 he said "I wouldn't mind living until I'm 110. I still swim, do calisthenics and keep fit. I've never been in hospital, except for a hernia operation at one time. People laugh about my using so many vitamins. When I tell them I take 50 liver pills a day they look surprised. But whether they laugh or not, the thing works." He added, "I'm retired, I live on a pension" and "if I have a problem I get expert counsel, then ask the opinion of a good psychic."[93]

Robert Cummings' last public appearance was on The Magical World of Disney episode "The Disneyland 35th Anniversary Special" in 1990.

Personal life[edit]

Marriages[edit]

Cummings married five times and fathered seven children. His first marriage was to Emma Myers, a girl from his hometown. His second marriage was to Vivi Janiss, an actress he met while performing in Ziegfeld Follies. His third wife, Mary Elliott, was a former actress and she ran Cummings' business affairs. They separated in 1968 and had a bitter divorce, during the course of which she accused him of cheating on her with his former secretary Regina Fond, and using methamphetamines which she said caused wild mood swings. She also claimed he relied on astrologers and numerologists to make financial decisions with "disastrous" consequences.[94] In 1970, when the divorce was finalized, their communal property was estimated as being worth from $700,000 to $800,000 (equivalent to between $4.4 million and $5.0 million in 2017).[95]

Hobbies[edit]

He was an avid pilot and owned a number of airplanes, all named "Spinach."[96] He was a staunch advocate of natural foods and published a book on healthy living, Stay Young and Vital, in 1960.[97]

Lawsuits[edit]

In 1952, Cummings was sued by a writer of My Hero who had been fired. In 1953, Cummings was served with papers concerning the suit by a sheriff; Cummings allegedly assaulted the sheriff and was then sued by the sheriff for damages.[98] Both cases were settled in 1954.[99]

Drug addiction[edit]

Despite his interest in health, Cummings was a methamphetamine addict from the mid-1950s until the end of his life. In 1954, while in New York to star in the Westinghouse Studio One production of Twelve Angry Men, Cummings began receiving injections from Max Jacobson, the notorious "Dr. Feelgood".[100][101] His friends Rosemary Clooney and José Ferrer recommended the doctor to Cummings, who was complaining of a lack of energy. While Jacobson insisted that his injections contained only "vitamins, sheep sperm, and monkey gonads", they actually contained a substantial dose of methamphetamine.[102]

Cummings continued to use a mixture provided by Jacobson, eventually becoming a patient of Jacobson's son Thomas, who was based in Los Angeles, and later injecting himself. The changes in Cummings' personality caused by the euphoria of the drug and subsequent depression damaged his career and led to an intervention by his friend, television host Art Linkletter. The intervention was not successful, and Cummings' drug abuse and subsequent career collapse were factors in his divorces from his third wife, Mary, and fourth wife, Gina Fong.[100]

After Jacobson was forced out of business in the 1970s, Cummings developed his own drug connections based in the Bahamas. Suffering from Parkinson's Disease, he was forced to move into homes for indigent older actors in Hollywood.[100]

Children[edit]

Cummings had seven children. His son, Tony Cummings, played Rick Halloway in the NBC daytime serial Another World in the early 1980s.

Political affiliation[edit]

Cummings was a supporter of the Republican Party.[103]

Death[edit]

On December 2, 1990, Cummings died of kidney failure and complications from pneumonia at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.[97]

He is interred in the Great Mausoleum in the same niche as his parents, Charles C. and Ruth Cummings, at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.[104][105][106]

Filmography[edit]

Robert Cummings and Peggy Moran, Spring Parade (1940).

Stage work[edit]

  • The Roof (1931)
  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 (1934)
  • Faithfully Yours (1951)
  • The Wayward Stork (1966)

Television credits[edit]

Radio credits[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Oliver, Myrna. "Robert Cummings". Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1990.
  2. ^ a b c d Wise and Wilderson 2000, p. 189.
  3. ^ "Robert Cummings | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  4. ^ a b FilmReference.com
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Christensen 1999, p. 225.
  6. ^ a b Greenwood 1960, p. 45.
  7. ^ "The Life Story Of: ROBERT CUMMINGS". Voice. 23, (35). Tasmania, Australia. 2 September 1950. p. 4. Retrieved 12 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ a b c THE LIFE STORY OF robert cummings. (1936, Dec 05). Picture show, 36, 20. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/1880296370?accountid=13902
  9. ^ a b By, P. H. (1937, Aug 29). Greta garbo and hepburn used guile. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/150943442?accountid=13902
  10. ^ a b c Lyon et al. 1987, p. 164.
  11. ^ a b c d $$Words$$. (1963, Feb 09). WHAT'S IN A NAME? Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/168336124?accountid=13902
  12. ^ a b Wilkinson, L. A. (1939, Oct 29). HOAXER OF HOLLYWOOD. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/165014887?accountid=13902
  13. ^ "CBC: Life And Times". CBC.ca. November 12, 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
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Bibliography

External links[edit]