A few weeks ago we highlighted Lloyd Nolan, and mentioned his part in 1945’s The House on 92nd Street (above). It was a dark war drama about Nazi agents flooding American between 1939 and 1941. Nolan played, typically for him, an FBI agent in pursuit.
But the actor who was supposed to become a star from his double agent role in that film was a fellow named William Eythe. You see him below.
Eythe was a contract player at 20th Century Fox in the mid 1940s. He got his big break after being discovered on Broadway by being cast in a small but pivotal role in The Ox Bow Incident (below). Then he was given a small but showy part in The Song of Bernadette.
He was a Tyrone Power “type,” and since the studio was losing Power to the Army, Fox initially tried to build up his career. But Eythe soon ran afoul of studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, and was quicky sidelined.
When Power refused to co-star with Tallulah Bankhead in Ernst Lubitsch’s A Royal Scandal, a tale about Catherine The Great, Eythe was cast in the role. Then came his most famous part, as the double agent in The House on 92nd St.
He starred in a few other ‘A’ films, such as Centennial Summer and Colonel Effingham’s Raid, but then was relegated to ‘B’ films and eventually was pitched into that dark pit called Hollywood anonymity. His offscreen sexuality didn’t help at the time, something that a short marriage in the late Forties to actress Buff Cobb didn’t assuage. (Cobb’s next husband, by the way, was tv newsman Mike Wallace.)
Eythe went to pot physically fairly early — dying of hepatitis at age 38 in 1957.
Feel free to let us know if you honestly knew who this guy was, and if so, how and why.