He was one of the most recognizable character actors of the last century. You might not place the name but the face is undoubtedly familiar.

As you know, we a very fond of classic Hollywood’s great character and supporting players, and certainly, Gene Lockhart qualifies in both departments. Like his talented peers, he worked like a dog — 146 movie and tv titles to his credit (at least 125 of them features) over a 35-year period. (He died in 1957 at age 65.)

Unlike many performers (Dan Duryea comes to mind; vicious villain onscreen, pussycat off), Lockhart really was as amiable and gentle as many of the characters he played (he was born in Canada). But he could as well convincingly portray simpering nasties such as the self-pitying Nazi collaborator in Fritz Lang’s 1938 thriller, Hangmen Also Die.

More typically Lockhart effectively flashed his jowly countenance with mirthful blue eyes in a range of films from 1938’s Blondie, the first in a series of Dagwood and Blondie pictures, to such Fifties romantic comedies as MGM’s Confidentially Connie costarring Van Johnson and Janet Leigh. From the mid Fifties on , Lockhart focussed on television, and continued working until a few years before his death.

Let’s see how much you remember about this fine character actor.  As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow.  Here we go:

1) Question: Lockhart had an extensive stage backround before signing on with Hollywood’s RKO studio.  Which of these celebrated American playwrights most extolled the actor’s talents?  a) Arthur Miller; b) Eugene O’Neill; c) Tennesee Williams; or d) Neil Simon.

2) Question:  Lockhart converted at least part of his career to something of a family act. Who was (were) the other performing member(s?) a) His brothers; b) His wife; c) His mother-in-law; or d) His wife and daughter.

3) Question:  In addition to his acting talents, Lockhart was known as a gifted writer.  a) True; or b) False?

4) Question:  What did Lockhart have in common with swing era bandleaders Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington?  a) He like they adored jazz; b) He like they disliked conventional Broadway musicals; c) They recorded a hit tune Lockhart had a hand in writing; or d) none of the above.

5) Question: Lockhart was Oscar nominated in the best supporting actor category for his performance in which one of the following titles?  a) 1938’s Algiers; b) 1940’s His Girl Friday; c) 1938’s A Christmas Carol; or d) 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street.

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