That dapper Dude pictured above matured into a character actor and wound up on TV as Ozzie Nelson’s neighbor.
When Lyle Talbot first arrived in Hollywood, he was considered a hot leading man prospect. But somehow, he never projected “star” charisma onscreen, and never made it to the A-list. But he kept on working.
His costars in a string of projects included Loretta Young, Barbara Stanwyck, Dick Powell, Pat O’Brien, Ann Dvorak, a very young John Wayne and (in 1932’s 20 Years In Sing Sing) Spencer Tracy. He even hung out with the William Randolph Hearst crowd at the latter’s San Simeon in northern California.
Offscreen, Talbot had his share of romances, and married and divorced three times almost casually. As his career went on, he developed a drinking problem. His personal life stabilized in the late Forties when he met and married his fourth wife, Margaret Epple, a woman nearly a generation his junior who sternly cracked down on any sign of alcohol abuse.
The couple had a long and fruitful marriage (until her death in 1989) that produced four children including the author (Margaret Talbot) of the biography that inspired this blog, 2012’s The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century.
Ok, on to the answers to our Lyle Talbot Quiz. As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Talbot is perhaps most widely recognized today as that straight, authoritative actor who anchored the completely whacky casts of two Edward D. Wood Jr. titles: 1953’s Glen or Glenda (a strange look as cross dressing) and the infamous 1959 space odyssey, Plan 9 From Outer Space, that has become affectionately regarded as “the worst movie ever made.” Talbot nonetheless regarded each assignment from the eccentric director (played by Johnny Depp in director Tim Burton’s superb 1994 biopic, Ed Wood) as a serious paying job. He recalled that Wood paid him daily (about $300) in stained and wrinkled 10-dollar bills.
2) Answer: (d) As alluded to above, after his film career diminished in the Fifties, Talbot turned to television in abundance, and is often remembered today as the Ozzie Nelson’s strong-voice neighbor and best fiend “Joe Randolph” on the long running TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. In all, his career encompasses more than 300 — yes, 300 — movie and TV titles.
3) Answer: d) Barbara Payton.
4) Answer: As indicted in our introduction, Talbot was beset by a) alcoholism.
5) Answer: b) False. Between 1950 and 1955, Talbot played at least five different roles on the tv version of The Lone Ranger. Clayton Moore played the Lone Ranger.