Actor Frank Lovejoy was born in the Bronx on this date 102 years ago, on March 28, 1912.
Prior to three or four years ago, I'm not sure I could have picked out Frank Lovejoy's photo, as up to that point he was someone whose work simply hadn't come up much in my viewing. In recent years he's become a real favorite, the kind of actor whose name causes me to smile when it turns up in the opening credits.
Lovejoy started out working on Broadway and in radio. Jake Hinson wrote about Lovejoy's radio career last year for the Noir City e-magazine, and has also posted the article at The Night Editor. One of my goals is to catch up with Lovejoy's radio show NIGHT BEAT, which you can read all about here and listen to an episode here.
Lovejoy's film career began in 1948, and by his third film he was costarring with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame in IN A LONELY PLACE (1950). I love the way his wife in the film, played by Jeff Donnell, describes him as "attractive and average." That "Joe Everyman" quality was part of Lovejoy's appeal, yet there was a compelling edge to his performances which made him stand out.
Lovejoy was quite a fine actor, as anyone who's seen him in another early film, TRY AND GET ME (1950), can attest. He makes it completely believable that his "regular guy" character is led along by psychotic criminal Lloyd Bridges into the very worst possible behavior, yet his tormented anguish is such that he continues to draw viewer sympathy. Since the film was beautifully restored a few years ago, hopefully even more people will have the chance to admire his superb performance in a disturbing film.
SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955), released on DVD last year by Olive Films, is pure fun, with Lovejoy playing a mild-mannered professor who's actually working to ferret out Commies in a shabby roadside diner.
Frank Lovejoy was just 50 years old when he passed on from a heart attack in 1962. He was survived by his wife, actress Joan Banks, and two children.
I regret the many performances we were never able to experience due to his early passing, but he left behind a wonderful body of work which continues to entertain film viewers -- and radio listeners! -- today.
For more information on Frank Lovejoy, please visit the birthday tribute posted by Ivan last year at Radio Spirits.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing Frank Lovejoy starring with Edmond O'Brien and William Talman in Ida Lupino's THE HITCH-HIKER (1953) on the closing night of this year's Noir City Film Festival.
He was in many more good films, and review links for some of them are below. I'd encourage anyone who -- like me just a few years ago -- isn't familiar with Lovejoy's work to seek out some of his films.
Previously reviewed Frank Lovejoy films: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950), TRY AND GET ME (1950), GOODBYE, MY FANCY (1951), BEACHHEAD (1954), STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND (1955), TOP OF THE WORLD (1955), THE CROOKED WEB (1955), SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955), THREE BRAVE MEN (1956), and JULIE (1956).
2015 Update: Here are reviews of additional Frank Lovejoy films reviewed in the past year: BLACK BART (1948), FORCE OF ARMS (1951), THE HITCH-HIKER (1953), SHE'S BACK ON BROADWAY (1953), and MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY (1954).