Ian Keith

Active - 1924 - 2004  |   Born - Feb 27, 1899   |   Died - Mar 26, 1960   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Adventure, Action, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Tall, handsome, golden-throated leading man Ian Keith became a Broadway favorite in the 1920s. He also pursued a sporadic silent film career, appearing opposite the illustrious likes of Gloria Swanson and Lon Chaney Sr. A natural for talkies, Keith appeared in such early sound efforts as Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail (1930) and D.W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln (1930) (in which he played John Wilkes Booth). A favorite of Cecil B. DeMille, Keith stole the show as the cultured, soft-spoken Saladin in DeMille's The Crusades (1935). A rambunctious night life and an inclination towards elbow-bending reduced Keith's stature in Hollywood, and by the mid-1940s he was occasionally obliged to appear in such cheapies as the 1946 "Bowery Boys" epic Mr. Hex. His final screen appearance was a cameo as Rameses I in DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956). Among Ian Keith's wives was stage luminary Blanche Yurka and silent-film leading lady Ethel Clayton.

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