Who could forget him?
In comedies, such as Mr. Belvedere (above) or in dramas like Laura and The Razor’s Edge.
A dapper dancing teacher, professional ballroom dancer and an actor in musicals both on Broadway and in London, (who’d also appeared in a two silent films), Clifton Webb entered talkies like a comet, an instant star.
In the immortal words of bitchy columnist Waldo Lydecker, his memorable character in 1944’s Laura:
I’m not kind. I’m vicious. It’s the secret of my charm.
Not many actors could deliver such a line with such complete conviction as the former Webb Parmelee Hollenbeck, born in 1893 in Indianapolis, Ind. And who else could emerge so sympathetic after dumping a bowl of goo on the head of his annoying charge in the 1948 comedy Sitting Pretty.
The prissy babysitter character, Lynn Belvedere, was exploited by 20th Century Fox — which had Webb under contract — in the sequels, Mr. Belvedere Goes To College in 1949 and in 1951’s Mr. Belvedere Rings The Bell.
Although Webb’s film career was not extensive by classic Hollywood standards (just 27 credits) he turned up in several prestige pictures. He appeared with Barbara Stanwyck in the 1953 version of Titanic, and with Myrna Loy in 1950’s Cheaper By The Dozen. In his final outing, he appeared with William Holden in 1962’s The Devil Never Sleeps, playing a missionary priest. (Webb died four years later of a heart attack at age 76.)
In 1954’s Three Coins in the Fountain, Webb is cast as a fading novelist revived by a love affair with Dorothy McGuire. In fact, the actor was discretely gay, and lived with his mother most of his life.
Who, indeed, can forget him?