In the early 1930s he was one of the busiest actors on the Warners lot.
And, ok, we admit it. We really like what we call “working actors.” You know, the Richard Jaeckels, the Charles McGraws and the Lyle Talbots of the Hollywood world.
They were never front-line, A-list stars or even top-name character actors, but they worked a lot in both movies and TV, and invariably had beneficial effects on properties that hired them.
Today’s Lyle Talbot quiz was largely inspired by the publication of The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century, written by the actor’s daughter Margaret Talbot.
While she unsuccessfully tries to examine a century of movie history though the lens of Talbot’s career, she writes movingly yet dispassionately about her father, who had his share of early triumphs and late-career battles.
In fact, Talbot’s working life spanned most of the 20th century. He was born in Pittsburgh in 1902, and died in San Francisco in 1996. Over that period, he successively appeared in many show biz venues: carnivals, vaudeville, the stage and, beginning in the early Thirties, the “talkies.”
After his film career diminished in the Fifties, he turned to television with relish. In all, his career encompasses more than 300 — yes, 300 — movie and TV titles.
Talbot had leading man looks and bearing. (That’s him below as a dashing airline pilot romancing stewardess Ann Dvorak in 1934’s Murder in the Clouds.) But somehow, he never projected “star” charisma onscreen, and never made it to the A-list.
But he kept on working. One of his proudest boasts is that he made pretty much his entire living from acting.
Let’s see how much you know about this hard working actor. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Talbot is perhaps best remembered today for two bizarre features created by one of Hollywood’s most idiosyncratic directors. Can you identify this director, and name the two movies alluded to? (Hint: the director was played on the screen by none other than Johnny Depp.)
2) Question: Talbot was a big hit on which one of the following tv series? a) Dragnet; b) Bonanza; c) Make Room For Daddy; or d) The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.
3) Question: Which one of the following did Talbot NOT costar with onscreen? a) John Wayne; b) Loretta Young; c) Barbara Stanwyck; or d) Barbara Payton.
4) Question: Later in his career, Talbot developed a personal habit that almost ruined him. What was it? a) Alcoholism; b) Drug addiction; c) An addiction to spending on luxury amenities he couldn’t afford; or d) A serious health problem.
5) Question: Talbot received a big mid-career boost by playing the Lone Ranger on tv in the Fifties. a) True; or b) False.