John Boles

Active - 1924 - 2009  |   Born - Oct 27, 1895   |   Died - Feb 27, 1969   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Musical, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

If the stories about his activities as an Allied spy in Europe and Turkey during World War I can be believed, American actor John Boles had a far more exciting real life than he'd ever have in "reel" life. Whatever the case, the Texas-born Boles abandoned espionage for a stage career as a singer and actor. His screen bow was in the silent film So This is Marriage (1925), but he was shown to better advantage in talking pictures, beginning with his costarring role opposite Bebe Daniels in the 1929 musical blockbuster Rio Rita. A little more appealing and a lot more animated than most movie baritones, Boles was much in demand in the early 1930s, usually in parts originally intended for his Fox Studios coworker (and near-lookalike) Warner Baxter. Freelancing after his Fox contract ended in 1936, Boles experienced a dip in popularity, redeemed somewhat with a strong part as poverty-stricken Barbara Stanwyck's society husband in Stella Dallas (1937). When John Boles' film career wound down in 1943, he went back to the stage, making a somewhat melancholy return to Hollywood in the execrable low-budget farce Babes in Baghdad (1952), wherein he was trapped with fellow faded luminaries Paulette Goddard and Gypsy Rose Lee.

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