Saturday, 10 March 2012

Do you remember.. ..Laird Cregar?

~ This is part of the Gone too soon Blogathon
hosted by Jnpickens @ COMET OVER HOLLYWOOD

As followers of this blog know (hello to all of you who visit via COMET OF HOLLYWOOD, too!!) since February this blog is themed: "Mirror, Mirror - It's all in the looks" is dealing with all ways of posts/ topics I can relate to this theme.. It was meant to run just for February - but with a miniseries about Berlinale Film Festival I overrun myself here a bit - so I prolongued the theme.. 

From the moment I started this theme I planned to do a post about one of my favourite actors. My followers know by now that I have two #1 actors (Vincent Price and Peter Lorre) following those two with just a smidge difference are my two #2 actors: John Garfield - and Laird Cregar.

The original idea was - after I posted about Karl Dane to start another series here: The Do you remember? series.- Actually it's a bit strange with me: whenever I learn something new to me I am immediately sure that everybody else knews it for years - that it is common knowledge. So I felt a bit silly to write about him - but then I was very suprised to learn that not every single person in the world knew about Karl Dane.. 

~ The Great Dane - and a German Sheperd.. ~

Frankly - it felt quite cool to get people to know him and I decided to start a series in which I feature some favourites of mine - even if everybody knows all about them - just my own declarations of love for those people.. 

Anyway - though I had this experience with the Karl Dane post - I am again very sure that most people know about Laird Cregar. (I have a feeling like some people are actually here to read a bit about him..) 

I am very, very happy to be part of a giant blogathon dealing with those people who are "gone too soon". So for I was anyway about to post about Laird Cregar I decided to join the party and connect with some other bloggers around - and I hope that you people will at least not be too much disappointed with my try.. 

So - finally:  

Here we go - and here's our guest:

~ Laird Cregar ~

Have some facts about him (including his filmography):

Laird Cregar was born Samuel Laird Cregar on July 28, - the year was either 1913, 1914 or 1916 - there are several sources saying different things.. Most sources state 1913 though - and they all agree about that he was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.. 

~ Young Samuel Laird Cregar
- who dropped his first name Samuel when he decided to become an actor.. ~

He went to school in England at Winchester Academy, where his parents sent him to. There he was working as a page boy and bit player at the Stratford-upon-Avon Players. Back in America besides other jobs he did to simply survive he trained to become an actor. There were times that he was that flat broke that he had to sleep in his car. He made some impressions on stage with an one-man-show in which he portrayed Oscar Wilde

~ still young.. but no film star yet.. ~ 

His film debut was in 1940 when he had a little part in OH JOHNNY, HOW YOU CAN LOVE - it was merely a walk-on part - but finally a start.. The same year he also had a little part in a Warner Bros. B-movie Western GRANNY GET YOUR GUN starring Harry Davenport and May Robson

~ Belgium poster for OH JOHNNY, HOW YOU CAN LOVE (1940) ~

In 1941 - after accepting a studio contract from 20th Century Fox - he had three appearances in films which gave him a bit more of a funny image:

In HUDSON'S BAY (1941) he was a zany fur trapper - I must admit that I do not know this film. But for I adore Paul Muni I really, really want to see that one!

~ Publicity still for HUDSON'S BAY
with Paul Muni and John Sutton ~

In BLOOD AND SAND (1941) which starred Tyrone Power,jr and Linda Darnell  he was a vain critic - can you get a better cast? Hardly.. 

 and in CHARLEY'S AUNT (1941) his character had to fawn over/ make love to Jack Benny's character who was pretending to be a woman.. For Laird Cregar who was reportedly homosexual this part could be at the same time just an easy bit and a real challenge.. There are sources saying that he had the tendency to fall in love with his leading men - but I don't know whether that is true or not. All I can say that you work really, really close together with your partners when you're an actor - and that sometimes it's hard to seperate acting from "mere feelings".. 

~ Edmund Gwenn and Laird Cregar - longing for a little loving of Ms. Jack Benny.. ~

Another interesting thing about this film: though he was supposed to act as the father of James Ellison - he was actually younger than Ellison who was born in 1910..  Because of his tall and due to his weight of about 300 pounds (ca. 136kg) very impressive figure he always appeared to be older than he actually was: not even 30 at that time..

~ aside a film camera.. sporting a very cute space width.. ~

But the same year he had a part in a film which showed him from quite a dark and diabolic side - a part which would lead to other parts of that kind. He was really very, very impressive here. His acting is one of the finest you can find.. Well, in my opinion it is for sure.. 

~ in I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) - really madly in love.. ~

Then followed a part as a classic villain of this time periode: Gestapo officer Herr Funk in JOAN OF PARIS (1942) opposite  the always wonderful Paul Henreid and the fantastic Michèle Morgan.

~ Publicity Still for JOAN OF PARIS (1942) ~

Also in 1942 he worked like many other stars of that time in Hollywood Canteen - here he is carrying a dinner tray:

It followed a Screwball comedy - starring Gene Tierney and Henry Fonda: RINGS ON HER FINGERS (1942). Here he was part of a crooked couple - the other half was: My beloved Spring Byington!! Too amazing for words.. 

~ Publicity Still for RINGS ON HER FINGERS (1942 )  ~

Afterwards he was in the film which might be one of his best-known: THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) - which marked the breaktrough for Alan Ladd (In 1943 Laird Cregar reprised his film character in a Lux Radio Theater version).

~ in THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) - still not even 30 years old.. ~

I found a cute little snippet of a publicity shot for THIS GUN FOR HIRE - showing 6'3'' (1,90m) high Laird Cregar and his tiny leading lady Veronica Lake (4'11½'' / 1,51m):

~ ... ~

A drama with Maureen O'Hara, George Montgomery and again John Sutton followed: TEN GENTLEMEN FROM WEST POINT (1942). Sorry.. But I haven't watched this film yet - so I can't give you any infos about Laird Cregar here.. 

~ Spanish poster for TEN GENTLEMEN FROM WEST POINT (1942) ~

In THE BLACK SWAN (1942) he teamed again with Tyrone Power, jr. - and again his part was more funny when he portrayed historical character Sir Henry Morgan.. I am not really overwhelmed by this film - but his part  makes it at least bearable for me.. So does the presence of a ridiculous looking George Sanders - and also Anthony Quinn and the fantastic George Zucco.. An amazing cast in a film which leaves me a bit startled.. 

~ in THE BLACK SWAN (1942) ~

In 1943 he had a part in HELLO, FRISCO, HELLO - another historical setted film.. I am yet to see this film - so I can't tell you anything about his part here.. I am sorry again..

~ Poster for HELLO, FRISCO, HELLO (1943) - well.. obviously.. ~

Again with Gene Tierney (though they had no scene together) he worked in Ernst Lubitsch's HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943). He had started to loose weight - and looked in my humble opinion gorgeous as "His Excellency" who is actually no one less but the devil.. This is (as I believe) the first part I ever saw him in - and I fell for him immediately. He was not only tall and elegant - but also very witty and impish.

~ dashing in HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943) ~

In 1943 he was in HOLY MATRIMONY with Monty Woolley and Gracie Fields. And again: A film I am yet to see.. 

~ Maybe it's just me.. But I think Monty Woolley and Laird Cregar bear a certain  resemblance.. ~

His second to last film was THE LODGER (1944) - in which his character was suspected to be Jack the Ripper.. Again his acting is marvellous. Besides this film has the great Sara Allgood and again George Sanders.. This film will be reviewed at this blog this year.. (just saying..)

~ with loosing weight he also started to look younger..
well.. maybe because he also had  some plastic surgery.. ~

His last film also paired him again with Linda Darnell and George Sanders: HANGOVER SQUARE (1944) - which is more than just worth a look.. I love this film from A-Z - it even has a cat.. 

~ as an talented musician with strange blackouts in HANGOVER SQUARE... ~

Tragedy had it that Laird Cregar who became more and more obsessed with his weight lost so much of it in such a short time that his body had trouble to deal with it. 

~ besides undergoing a at that time in late 1944 new procedure (stomach bypass surgery)
 he did a lot of sports to loose weight.. ~

~ happy with his achievements.. ~

On December 9, 1944 at the age of 31 (taking that he was born in 1913) he died due to a heart attack. Vincent Price delivered the eulogy at Laird Cregar's funeral. In one of his last interviews Laird Cregar said:

 "I have a feeling the studio is almost beginning to consider me an actor now, instead of a type."

And though I have no idea what would have happened when Laird Cregar would have lived for let's say 50 more years - I would have hoped for some films together with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.. I am sure that - whatever parts he would have gotten then: he would have succeeded in them. 

His epitaph reads

"I am with you always."

- and for me for one he always will.


Thank you very much for listening!

Yours truly



  1. Great post, Irene!! I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Mr. Cregar. Really, I knew very little about him and thought I had only seen him in "The Lodger" and "I Wake Up Screaming." However, based on some of the films you mentioned (including "Heaven Can Wait," which I watched about 4 months ago), I have seen him at least a half dozen times. I had no idea.

    I thought he was totally sensational in "The Lodger." He played his part to absolute perfection.

    By the way, his voice is Vincent Price-sounding to me. Do you think that too? Since you are a mega-huge VP fan, you would probably REALLY know if the 2 men sounded similar.

    Have a great day,

  2. Amazing post Irene! Just recently saw Laird in This Gun For Hire and thought he was great. I also recall The Black Swan. I so want to see The Lodger, looks and sounds like a very good film. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post Irene!

  3. Thank you, Patti. I am very sorry to hear that Laird Cregar didn't effect you enough to be recognized by you in his other acting parts..

    Glad you liked him in THE LODGER.

    There is a slight similarity in his voice and that of Vincent Price - I must admit that.. ;")

    Hope you'll have a great day, too!

    Also: thank you, Monty. Happy to hear that you liked his performance in THIS GUN FOR HIRE. Hope you'll get the chance to watch THE LODGER. And: You're welcome.

    Thank you both so very much for leaving so very kind comments!

  4. Great post! I've loved him every time he's popped up in a film I was watching, enough that I sought out other films he was in, just to watch him. He's such a scene stealer, and his untimely death is such a loss.

  5. Irene - what a wonderful tribute to this great star. He was just wonderful in everything he did. I especially loved him in Hangover Square and Heaven Can Wait. When I read the Nero Wolfe mysteries, I always pictured his as Nero Wolfe.

  6. I've shamefully never heard of this actor, Irene, but now I have a bunch of films to check out! :)

    By the way, I've tagged you for an award at my blog: :)

  7. DKoren - agree! Completely! And: Thank you very, very much! :")

    FlickChick - also: Thank you very, very, very much!! Now I think I have to read the Nero Wolfe mysteries.. (Thank you for that, too!)

    Rianna: Thank you for the award! That's very kind of you! I certainly hope that you'll like what you see of Laird Cregar's work!

  8. Irene, you're definitely not alone in your Laird Cregar worship! The first film I ever saw him in (on DVD, of course; I wasn't born until many years later :-)) was I WAKE UP SCREAMING, and I was sold! That one is my favorite, with HANGOVER SQUARE a close second. What a shame he was Gone Too Soon, but what an amazing body of work he left behind! You did a superb job of writing about Our Man Cregar's all-too-short but always fascinating life and times!

    By the way, the gang at the blogs SPEAKEASY and LAURA'S MISCELLANEOUS MUSINGS are among Laird's big fans, too. Here are links to a couple of my blog posts featuring his work over at TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED, if you're interested:

    Thanks for helping to spread the word about Laird Cregar, so we can educate the budding classic film fans out there!

  9. Enjoyed this very much about an actor I'd wanted to learn a little more about. Hudson's Bay has been on my own short list to cover for awhile, it's a decent historical pic shown every so often on Fox Movie Channel. Laird is Muni's hunting and trapping sidekick as well as comedy relief. Both of them sport heavy French-Canadian accents in the movie which grated on me some at first but that I've come to at least tolerate with repeated viewings!
    Thanks for covering him!

  10. Irene, Laird Cregar is also a huge favorite of mine. One of my first blogs was about him. The Lodger and Hangover Square are my favorites. He was a talented actor, and it makes me very said that he felt he had to put his body through such torture just so he could be accepted as a leading man (which I heard that he felt). Very good article, with wonderful pictures. Glad to know he is not forgotten and still loved.

  11. DorianTB: Thank you very much for your kind words. Glad that you like his works, too! Thank you also very much for the links you left! I will check them out asap.

    Cliff Aliperti: Glad that you enjoyed this post! And thank you so very much for shedding a bit of light on Laird Cregar's part in HUDSON'S BAY! I can totally see that some fake accent can be grating..

    ClassicBecky: That's great about Laird Cregar being a huge favourite of yours, too! Yes, I heard that about him wishing for being the leading man inhis films, too - and I bet he would have been just awesome. Thank you for your kind words - for I am admiring your work in the bloggosphere for so long I am feeling kind of honored by this comment of yours!

    A lovely day to all of you - thank you so much for visiting and leaving so very nice comments!

  12. I just love him. This year he would have been 100 and we would have had 100 years of magnificent works of his artistry. Thank you Irene for posting so much good of this incredible man.

    And he's a hottie too. No doubt about that. That man was Sexy. Smart. Savvy. The whole package for a gentleman. So glad we have his movies to enjoy forever. He is forever...

  13. A great actor who fell eternally silent, long before he had the opportunity to go on to greater glory. Just goes to show the desire to
    look thinner/prettier/more handsome hasn't changed in seven decades.

    Sadly for Laird, his talent was not enough to change this fact.


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")