Bruce Bennett

Active - 1939 - 1990  |   Born - May 19, 1906 in Tacoma, WA  |   Died - Feb 24, 2007 in Santa Monica, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Western, Action, Crime, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

When Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs set about to produce his own talking pictures based on his jungle-man creation, he decided to emulate the example of the MGM Tarzan pictures, which starred Olympic champion Johnny Weissmuller. Using the 1932 Olympics as his talent pool, Burroughs selected shot-put champ Herman Brix, who'd already played a few bits in such films as Student Tour (1934) and Death on the Diamond (1934). Brix was quickly dispatched to Guatemala to film the 12-chapter serial The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935). This low-budget endeavor brought Brix to the attention of independent producer Sam Katzman, who cast the gangly young athlete in a succession of action pictures and serials. In 1937, Brix took some time off to learn the rudiments of acting, then re-emerged on screen in 1938 with a new name: Bruce Bennett. Under contract to Columbia from 1938 through 1943, Bennett showed up in roles of all sizes in films of all kinds, ranging from George Stevens' big-budgeter Talk of the Town (1942) to such 3 Stooges shorts as How High Is Up? (1940) and So Long Mr. Chumps (1941). His parts increased in size and importance when he moved to Warner Bros. in 1945; here he was assigned such choice roles as Joan Crawford's ex-husband in Mildred Pierce (1945) and the lone prospector who is killed off in the middle of Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). A ubiquitous second lead and character actor throughout the 1950s, Bruce Bennett left films in the early 1960s to make a bundle in real estate, briefly returning before the cameras in 1972.

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