Today we begin a four part series on actors who have managed to win the top awards on film (The Oscar) on stage (The Tony) and on television (The Emmy).
Although there have been over a dozen actors who’ve accomplished this, we will only highlight four — those from the Golden Era of filmmaking. And it’s only fitting that we begin with a man who had one of the longest and most distinguished careers in movies, Melvyn Douglas.
His career spanned more that 50 years. He started on Broadway but soon found his way to Hollywood where he starred opposite Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich. He was in one of the first “screwball” comedies, Theodora Goes Wild, with Irene Dunne, and of course, Ninotchka, with Garbo.
His award winning films occurred later, when after World War II (he had served in both Wars) he returned to character parts. He won Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards for Hud in 1963 and for Being There in 1979. And he’s been nominated in the Best Actor category for his role in I Never Sang for My Father.
He had returned to Broadway in Inherit the Wind in 1955 (which he later did on TV) and then won the Tony in 1960 for his portrayal in Gore Vidal‘s The Best Man.
He did many TV series and dramas and in 1967 won the Emmy for his performance in CBS Playhouse’s production of Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. was in the 60s and 70s the busiest actor of his generation. His other notable films of the period include The Americanization of Emily, and The Candidate.
In the 1960s and 70s he seemed to be the busiest actor of his generation.
Douglas was married to actress turned politician Helen Gahagan, who as Helen Gahagan Douglas was a three term congresswoman from California but lost her senate bid to Richard Nixon in 1950. Since she opposed the House un-American Activities Committee Nixon claimed she was a Commie sympathizer and tarred her as “Pink, right down to her underwear.” She is credited with being the first to label him “Tricky Dick.”
Douglas and Gahagan had two children and Melvyn Douglas (nee Hesselberg) had a son, Gregory Hesselberg, by his first wife. His daughter, Melvyn Douglas’ granddaughter, is the actress Illeana Douglas.