As a youth, Ben Welden was trained to be a concert violinist. He chose instead a stage career, heading to London rather than New York to realize his goal. During the early '30s, the bald, barracuda-faced Welden was a valuable British movie commodity, playing American gangster types in such films as The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1937). He returned to the U.S. in 1937, where he appeared in picture after picture at Warner Bros., playing vicious thugs and "torpedoes" in several gritty urban efforts, among them Marked Woman (1937), City for Conquest (1940), and The Big Sleep (1946). Welden's work in such two-reelers as Columbia's The Awful Sleuth (1951) and Three Dark Horses (1952), and such sitcoms as The Abbott and Costello Show, revealed a flair for broad comedy that the actor would carry over into his many Runyon-esque bad-guy assignments on the Superman TV series. Gradually retiring from acting in the mid-'60s, Ben Welden (in real life a gentle, likeable man) maintained his comfortable living standard by operating a successful California candy popcorn business.
by Hal Erickson biography