He had one of the longest careers in Hollywood. He worked for some of the best directors and opposite some of the biggest stars.
He was known as Bob Cummings. But for most of his film career he was billed as Robert Cummings.
That was his real name. Though he had tried names such as Blade Stanhope Conway and Bruce Hutchens — in early career efforts to pass himself off as either a Brit or a Texan (certainly not as the Midwesterner he was from Joplin, Missouri) — Robert Cummings was the name that stuck.
He was never in the top tier of leading men, but Cummings had a successful career in movies from the 1930s to the 1960s. And, he was one of the biggest stars on television in its early days.
Cummings was also known for his fastidious health regimen. In 1951, actress Joan Fontaine recalled sharing a chartered airplane ride with the actor to Brazil.
The plane trip was uneventful except that Bob Cumming’s wrist watch would regularly resound through the plane. He was a vitamin addict and took his pills every four hours, night and day, awakening the sleeping passengers, Fontaine wrote in her autobiography, No Bed of Roses.
The pill popping seemed to more or less work; Cummings died in 1990 at the age of 80.
Ok, let’s see how much you recall about this durable star. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Cummings’ most memorable movies included which of the following Alfred Hitchcock thrillers? a) 1949’s Under Capricorn; b) 1942’s Saboteur; c) 1944’s Lifeboat; or d) 1954’s Dial M For Murder.
2) Question: Cummings was never nominated for an Academy Award, but he did manage a slew of Emmy Award nominations and one actual win. What was it for?
3) Question: Which one of the following was not a leading lady in a Robert Cummings movie? a) Doris Day in 1954’s Lucky Me; Rosalind Russell in 1949’s Tell It To The Judge; Loretta Young in 1949’s The Accused; or d) Barbara Stanwyck in 1946’s The Bride Wore Boots.
4) Question: Perhaps best remembered today for his hit Fifties tv sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show, the actor actually made his initial tube splash in another series in which he played a footloose bachelor. Can you name that earlier program?
5) Question: It’s not widely known that Cummings was at actually one point host of NBC’s Tonight program. Who preceded him in that role, and who followed him?