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Charles Ambrose Bickford (January 1, 1891 – November 9, 1967)[1] was an American actor best known for his strong supporting roles.[2] He was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for The Song of Bernadette (1943), The Farmer's Daughter (1947), and Johnny Belinda (1948). Other notable roles include Whirlpool (1948), A Star is Born (1954), and The Big Country
The Big Country
(1958).

Contents

1 Biography

1.1 Early life 1.2 Acting career 1.3 Death and legacy

2 Partial filmography 3 See also 4 References 5 External links

Biography[edit] Early life[edit] Bickford was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the first minute of 1891.[3] The fifth of seven children, he was an intelligent but very independent and unruly child. He had a particularly strong relationship with his maternal grandfather (a sea captain) who was a powerful influence during his formative years. At the age of nine he was tried and acquitted of the attempted murder of a trolley motorman who had callously driven over and killed his beloved dog.[3]:12-16 Always more interested in experiencing life than reading about it, Bickford was considered "the wild rogue" of this family, causing his parents frequent consternation. In his late teens he drifted aimlessly around the United States for a time. Before breaking into acting he worked as a lumberjack, investment promoter, and for a short time, ran a pest extermination business. He was a stoker and fireman in the United States Navy
United States Navy
when a friend dared him to get a job in Burlesque. Bickford served as an Engineer Lieutenant in the United States Army during World War I. His first entry into acting was on the stage, eventually including Broadway. This venue provided him with an occasional living and served as the principal training ground for developing his acting and vocal talents. Acting career[edit] Bickford had intended to attend the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Institute of Technology to earn an engineering degree, but while wandering around the country, he became friends with the manager of a burlesque show, who convinced Bickford to take a role in the show. He debuted in Oakland, California, in 1911.[3]:50-53 Bickford enjoyed himself so much that he abandoned his plans to attend M.I.T.[3]:60-61 He made his legitimate stage debut with the John Craig Stock Company at the Castle Square Theatre in Boston in 1912.[3]:61-62 He eventually joined a road company and traveled throughout the United States for more than a decade, appearing in various productions. In 1925, while working in a Broadway play called Outside Looking In, he and co-star James Cagney (in his first Broadway role) received rave reviews.[3]:142-145 He was offered a role in Herbert Brenon's 1926 film of Beau Geste
Beau Geste
but, anxious not to give up his newfound Broadway stardom, turned it down, a decision he later came to regret. Following his appearance in the critically praised but unsuccessful Maxwell Anderson-Harold Hickerson drama about the Sacco and Vanzetti
Sacco and Vanzetti
case, Gods of the Lightning (Bickford was the Sacco character), Bickford was contacted by filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
and offered a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
studios to star in DeMille's first talking picture, Dynamite.[3]:157 He soon began working with MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer
on a number of projects.

Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
and Raquel Torres
Raquel Torres
in The Sea Bat
The Sea Bat
(1930)

He soon became a star after playing Greta Garbo's lover in Anna Christie (1930) but never developed into a leading man. Always of independent mind, exceptionally strong-willed and quick with his fists, Bickford would frequently argue and nearly come to blows with Mayer and any number of other MGM authority figures during the course of this contract with the studio. During the production of DeMille's Dynamite, he punched out his director following a string of heated arguments primarily, but not exclusively, related to the interpretation of his character's role. Throughout his early career on both the stage and later films Bickford rejected numerous scripts and made no secret of his disdain for much of the material he was offered. Not surprisingly, his association with MGM was short-lived, with Bickford asking for and quickly receiving a release from his contract. However, he soon found himself blacklisted at other studios, forcing him [3]:274-277 to take the highly unusual step (for that era) of becoming an independent actor for several years. His career took another turn when in 1935 he was mauled by a lion and nearly killed while filming East of Java. While he recovered, he lost his contract with Fox as well as his leading-man status owing to extensive neck scarring suffered in the attack coupled with his advancing age.[3]:298-303 It was not long, however, before he made a very successful transition to character roles, which he felt offered much greater diversity and allowed him to showcase his talent to better effect. Much preferring the character roles that now became his forte, Bickford appeared in many notable films, including The Farmer's Daughter, Johnny Belinda, A Star is Born, and Not As a Stranger.[3]:308 Finding great success playing an array of character roles in films and later in television, Bickford quickly became highly sought after; his burly frame and craggy, intense features, coupled with a gruff, powerful voice lent themselves to a wide variety of roles. Most often he played lovable father figures, stern businessmen, heavies, ship captains or authority figures of some sort. During the 1940s, he was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He served as host of the 1950s television series The Man Behind the Badge. On April 16, 1958, Bickford appeared with Roger Smith in "The Daniel Barrister Story" on NBC's Wagon Train. In this first-season episode, Daniel Barrister, played by Bickford, objects to medical treatment for his wife, Jenny, the victim of a wagon accident. Meanwhile, Dr. Peter H. Culver, played by Smith, has successfully fought a smallpox epidemic in a nearby town. He is brought to the wagon train by scout Flint McCullough, portrayed by series regular Robert Horton, to treat Mrs. Barrister. Viewers never knew if Barrister yielded to allow Dr. Culver to treat Jenny. Bickford continued to act in generally prestigious projects right up to his death. He guest-starred on ABC's The Islanders and on NBC's The Barbara Stanwyck Show and The Eleventh Hour. In his final years, Bickford played rancher John Grainger, owner of the Shiloh Ranch, on NBC's The Virginian western series. Two of the actor's most memorable late-career big-screen roles came in the western The Big Country
The Big Country
(1958) (as a wealthy and ruthless rancher) and in the drama Days of Wine and Roses (as the forlorn father of an alcoholic). In 1965, Bickford published his autobiography, Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors.[3]:308 Death and legacy[edit] He died in Los Angeles
Los Angeles
on November 9, 1967 of pneumonia and a blood infection at the age of 76.[1][4] Jennifer Jones, who was a close friend of Bickford's, attempted suicide on the day of his death but it is not clear if Bickford's death had anything to do with the attempt.[5] He had a son, Rex, and a daughter, Doris.[4] Rex died in 1960, seven years before his father.[citation needed] Bickford received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
in 1960. His motion pictures star is located at 6780 Hollywood Boulevard, while his television star is located at 1620 Vine Street.[6] Partial filmography[edit]

Dynamite (1929) Hell's Heroes (1930) Passion Flower (1930) Anna Christie (1930) as Matt Burke The Sea Bat
The Sea Bat
(1930) East of Borneo (1931) Men in Her Life (1931) The Squaw Man (1931) The Pagan Lady
The Pagan Lady
(1931) Scandal for Sale (1932) No Other Woman (1933) This Day and Age (1933) Red Wagon (1933) White Woman
White Woman
(1933) Little Miss Marker (1934) A Wicked Woman (1934) The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) East of Java
East of Java
(1935) The Plainsman
The Plainsman
(1936) Pride of the Marines (1936) High, Wide, and Handsome
High, Wide, and Handsome
(1937) Daughter of Shanghai
Daughter of Shanghai
(1937) Gangs of New York (1938) Stand Up and Fight (1939) Of Mice and Men (1939) as Slim One Hour to Live (1939) Queen of the Yukon
Queen of the Yukon
(1940) Reap the Wild Wind
Reap the Wild Wind
(1942) Tarzan's New York Adventure
Tarzan's New York Adventure
(1942) Mr. Lucky (1943) The Song of Bernadette (1943) Wing and a Prayer
Wing and a Prayer
(1944) Captain Eddie
Captain Eddie
(1945) Fallen Angel (1945) Duel in the Sun (1946) The Farmer's Daughter (1947) The Woman on the Beach
The Woman on the Beach
(1947) Brute Force (1947) The Babe Ruth Story
The Babe Ruth Story
(1948) Four Faces West
Four Faces West
(1948) Command Decision (1948) Johnny Belinda (1948) Whirlpool (1949) Roseanna McCoy (1949) Riding High (1950) Branded (1950) Guilty of Treason
Guilty of Treason
(1950) Jim Thorpe – All-American
Jim Thorpe – All-American
(1951) The Raging Tide
The Raging Tide
(1951) A Star Is Born (1954) as Oliver Niles The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
(1955) Prince of Players
Prince of Players
(1955) Not as a Stranger (1955) The Dark Wave (1956) You Can't Run Away from It
You Can't Run Away from It
(1956) Mister Cory
Mister Cory
(1957) The Big Country
The Big Country
(1958) The Unforgiven (1960) Days of Wine and Roses (1962) A Big Hand for the Little Lady
A Big Hand for the Little Lady
(1966)

See also[edit]

Biography portal Massachusetts
Massachusetts
portal California
California
portal Los Angeles
Los Angeles
portal Film portal Television portal United States Navy
United States Navy
portal

List of actors with Academy Award nominations

References[edit]

^ a b LA Times Hollywood Star Walk ^ Obituary Variety, November 15, 1967. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bickford, Charles. Bulls Balls Bicycles & Actors. Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., 1965, p. 4 ^ a b Charles Bickford: Acquitted of attempted murder at nine, nearly killed by a lion, and three times Oscar nominee ^ L.A. Times obituary ^ Hollywood Walk of Fame

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles Bickford.

Works by or about Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
at Internet Archive Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
on IMDb Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
at AllMovie Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
"Charles Bickford". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 10, 2010.  Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
at Virtual History

v t e

National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor

John Williams (1954) Charles Bickford
Charles Bickford
(1955) Richard Basehart
Richard Basehart
(1956) Sessue Hayakawa
Sessue Hayakawa
(1957) Albert Salmi
Albert Salmi
(1958) Hugh Griffith
Hugh Griffith
(1959) George Peppard
George Peppard
(1960) Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason
(1961) Burgess Meredith
Burgess Meredith
(1962) Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Douglas
(1963) Martin Balsam
Martin Balsam
(1964) Harry Andrews
Harry Andrews
(1965) Robert Shaw (1966) Paul Ford
Paul Ford
(1967) Leo McKern
Leo McKern
(1968) Philippe Noiret
Philippe Noiret
(1969) Frank Langella
Frank Langella
(1970) Ben Johnson (1971) Joel Grey
Joel Grey
/ Al Pacino
Al Pacino
(1972) John Houseman
John Houseman
(1973) Holger Löwenadler
Holger Löwenadler
(1974) Charles Durning
Charles Durning
(1975) Jason Robards
Jason Robards
(1976) Tom Skerritt
Tom Skerritt
(1977) Richard Farnsworth
Richard Farnsworth
(1978) Paul Dooley
Paul Dooley
(1979) Joe Pesci
Joe Pesci
(1980) Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
(1981) Robert Preston (1982) Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
(1983) John Malkovich
John Malkovich
(1984) Klaus Maria Brandauer
Klaus Maria Brandauer
(1985) Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis
(1986) Sean Connery
Sean Connery
(1987) River Phoenix
River Phoenix
(1988) Alan Alda
Alan Alda
(1989) Joe Pesci
Joe Pesci
(1990) Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
(1991) Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
(1992) Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio
(1993) Gary Sinise
Gary Sinise
(1994) Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey
(1995) Edward Norton
Edward Norton
(1996) Greg Kinnear
Greg Kinnear
(1997) Ed Harris
Ed Harris
(1998) Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman
(1999) Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix
(2000) Jim Broadbent
Jim Broadbent
(2001) Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper
(2002) Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin
(2003) Thomas Haden Church
Thomas Haden Church
(2004) Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal
(2005) Djimon Hounsou
Djimon Hounsou
(2006) Casey Affleck
Casey Affleck
(2007) Josh Brolin
Josh Brolin
(2008) Woody Harrelson
Woody Harrelson
(2009) Christian Bale
Christian Bale
(2010) Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
(2011) Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio
(2012) Will Forte
Will Forte
(2013) Edward Norton
Edward Norton
(2014) Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone
(2015) Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges
(2016) Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
(2017)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 61810145 LCCN: n86138679 ISNI: 0000 0001 1492 4448 GND: 1074843878 SUDOC: 061282928 BNF: cb146598276 (data) BIBSYS: 6013944 BNE: XX1064888 SN

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