Jim Hutton

Active - 1958 - 1978  |   Born - May 31, 1934   |   Died - Jun 2, 1979   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Crime, Romance, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor Jim Hutton was performing in a military show in Germany when he was discovered by director Douglas Sirk. Sirk promptly cast Hutton in A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), which though released by Universal, led to an MGM contract for the young actor. Evidently MGM had plans to turn Hutton into the new Jimmy Stewart, for the studio insisted upon casting their young star in roles calling for ingenuous clumsiness. Perhaps the quintessential Hutton role was as The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962), in which his constant bumbling eventually transforms him into a war hero. MGM frequently paired Hutton with another player of acute comic skill, Paula Prentiss; they worked so well together that many fans assumed Hutton and Prentiss were married -- which must have been amusing to Paula's longtime husband Richard Benjamin. Hutton was allowed a few non-comedy "outdoors" roles in Major Dundee (1965) and The Green Berets (1969), but for the most part was locked into playing gangling young goofs. Oddly, Hutton's screen persona worked quite well for his TV-series role as Ellery Queen in the mid-1970s. The actor was charming and convincing as the self-effacing, deceptively preoccupied criminologist, especially when he turned to the camera 45 minutes into each Ellery Queen episode and invited the folks at home to help him solve the mystery. Hutton died of cancer at age 46 -- too soon to fully realize the success of his son, actor Timothy Hutton.

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