Ray Montgomery

Active - 1930 - 1970  |   Born - Jan 1, 1920   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Adventure, Romance, War

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Ray Montgomery was a gifted character actor who spent his early career trapped behind a too-attractive face, which got him through the studio door in the days just before World War II, but limited him to callow, handsome supporting roles. Born in 1922, Montgomery joined Warner Bros. in 1941 and spent the next two years working in short-subjects and playing small, uncredited parts in feature films, including All Through The Night, Larceny, Inc., Air Force, and Action In The North Atlantic -- in all of which he was overshadowed by lead players such as Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and John Garfield, and the veteran character actors in supporting roles (including Alan Hale, William Demarest, Frank McHugh, Barton McLane, and Edward Brophy) at every turn. And even in The Hard Way as Jimmy Gilpin, he was overshadowed (along with everyone else) by Ida Lupino. Montgomery went into uniform in 1943 and didn't return to the screen until three years later, when he resumed his career precisely where he left off, playing a string of uncredited roles. He got what should have been his breakthrough in 1948 with Bretaigne Windust's comedy June Bride, and his first really visible supporting role -- but again, he was lost amid the presence of such players as Robert Montgomery and Bette Davis and a screwball-comedy story-line.

It was back to uncredited parts for the next few years, until the advent of dramatic television. In the early 1950s, after establishing himself on the small-screen as a quick study and a good actor, Montgomery finally got co-starring status in the syndicated television series Ramar of the Jungle, playing Professor Howard Ogden, friend and colleague of the Jon Hall's title-character in the children's adventure series. The show was rerun on local television stations continuously into the 1960s. By then, Montgomery had long since moved on to more interesting parts and performances in a multitude of dramatic series and feature films.

He proved much better with edgy character roles and outright bad guys than he had ever been at playing good natured background figures -- viewers of The Adventures of Superman

(which has been in reruns longer than even Ramar), in particular, may know Montgomery best for two 1956 episodes, his grinning, casual villainy in the episode "Jolly Roger" and his sadistic brutality in "Dagger Island", where his character convincingly turns on his own relatives (as well as a hapless Jimmy Olsen). He could do comedy as well as drama, and was seen in multiple episodes of The Lone Ranger, The Gale Storm Show, and Lassie, in between movie stints that usually had him in taciturn roles, such as Bombers B-52 (1957) and A Gathering of Eagles (1963). During the 1960s, the now-balding, white-haired Montgomery was perhaps most visible in police-oriented parts, as a tough old NYPD detective in Don Siegel's Madigan (1968) and as an equally crusty (but sensitive) LAPD lieutenant in the Dragnet episode "Community Relations: DR-17". Montgomery's last screen appearance was in the series Hunter -- following his retirement from acting, he opened a notably successful California real estate agency.

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