Jeff Corey

Active - 1940 - 1999  |   Born - Aug 10, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York  |   Died - Aug 16, 2002   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Crime, Comedy, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor Jeff Corey forsook a job as sewing-machine salesman for the less stable world of New York theatre in the 1930s. The 26-year-old Corey was regarded as a valuable character-actor commodity when he arrived in Hollywood in 1940. Perhaps the best of his many early unbilled appearances was in the Kay Kyser film You'll Find Out (40), in which Corey, playing a game-show contestant (conveniently named Jeff Corey), was required to sing a song while stuffing his mouth full of crackers. The actor was busiest during the "film noir" mid-to-late 1940s, playing several weasely villain roles; it is hard to forget the image of Corey, in the role of a slimy stoolie in Burt Lancaster's Brute Force, being tied to the front of a truck and pushed directly into a hail of police bullets. Corey's film career ended abruptly in 1952 when he was unfairly blacklisted for his left-leaning political beliefs. To keep food on the table, Corey became an acting coach, eventually running one of the top training schools in the business (among his more famous pupils was Jack Nicholson). He was permitted to return to films in the 1960s, essaying such roles as a wild-eyed wino in Lady in a Cage (64), the louse who kills Kim Darby's father in True Grit (68), and a sympathetic sheriff in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (68). In addition to his film work, Jeff Corey has acted in and directed numerous TV series; he was seen as a regular on the 1985 Robert Blake series Hell Town and the 1986 Earl Hamner Jr. production Morningstar/Eveningstar. The following decade found Corey appearing in such films as Sinatra (1992), Beethoven's 2nd (1993) and the action thriller Surviving the Game (1994). Shortly after suffering a fall at his Malibu home in August of 2002, Corey died in Santa Monica due to complications resulting from the accident. He was 88.

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