Massey Raymond biography
Date of birth : 1896-08-30
Date of death : 1983-07-29
Birthplace : Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality : Canadian
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-06-07
Credited as : Actor and film producer, ,
Born in Toronto, Canada, 30 August 1896. Educated at Appleby School, Ontario, 1910-14; Toronto University, and Baliol College, Oxford, 1919-21. Married 1) Margery Fremantle in 1921 (divorced 1929), one son; 2) Adrianne Allen (divorced 1939), one son (actor Daniel Massey) and one daughter (actress Anna Massey); 3) Dorothy Ludington Whitney in 1939; one step-daughter. Served in Canadian Field Artillery, 1915-19. Stage debut, Everyman Theatre, London, 1922; entered into co-management of Everyman Theatre, 1926; film debut, 1930; New York debut, 1931; served in Canadian Army, 1942-43; took US nationality, 1944; toured with dramatic readings of the poem "John Brown's Body", 1953; final appearance on London stage, 1970. Member: Council, Actors' Equity Association (vice-president); Council, British Actors' Equity Association. Recipient: Delia Austria Medal, 1939. DFA: Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin, 1961; Northwestern University, 1959; D.Litt: Lafayette University, 1939; Hobart College, Geneva, New York, 1953; LL.D: Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, 1949; LHD: American International College of Massachusetts, 1960; DHL: College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio, 1966. Died in Los Angeles, 29 July 1983.
Raymond Massey was the younger son of a wealthy industrialist in Toronto. His ancestors included Boston preachers as well as Ontario farmers. The family manufactured agricultural machinery and young Raymond spent much of his youth on their private experimental farm, where he indulged his two main passions: horse-riding and amateur theatricals. He was joined in the latter pursuit by his cousins and his older brother Vincent, who later became Governor-General of Canada.
In 1915 Massey joined the Canadian Field Artillery and served as an officer in France and Siberia. His military experience convinced him of the value of both discipline and individual initiative. After the war he attended Balliol College for two years before deciding to become a professional actor. When he informed his family, his strict Methodist father enjoined him to pray before each performance and his austerely discreet brother inquired "What name will you use?"
Massey began his professional career at the Hart House Theatre built by his family but soon went to London, where he concentrated on contemporary plays. He helped to introduce the plays of Eugene O'Neill to British audiences when he appeared as Jack in a production of In the Zone at the Everyman Theatre in 1922 and he played Captain La Hire and D'Estivet in the original production of St Joan in 1924. Massey began directing the same year and by 1926 was a partner in the management of the Everyman Theatre. Over the next five years he directed and appeared in many new plays, opposite such prominent actresses as Angela Baddeley, Athene Seyler, Isabel Jeans, and Gladys Cooper. He scored a considerable success as Khan Aghaba in The Transit of Venus in 1927, a role in which he exploited the romantic potential of his darkly handsome, aquiline features and resonant, metallic voice.
In 1931 Massey went to New York and made his Broadway debut as Hamlet in a production by Norman Bel Geddes that featured a number of innovative touches, including Massey himself speaking the lines of the Ghost to a spectral head. It instantly established him in the USA as an actor of power and presence and also inspired the playwright Robert Sherwood to begin work on a play about Abraham Lincoln, in which Massey would score his greatest stage success. In the meantime he appeared as the repressed New England farmer in Ethan Frome opposite Ruth Gordon in New York and as the cynical hoofer Harry Van in Idiot's Delight in London. He continued to pursue a transatlantic stage career playing with many of the major actors of the period, including Laurence Olivier, Noël Coward, Sybil Thorndike, and his wife Adrianne Allen.
During the 1930's Massey began to appear in films, initially in costume epics produced by Sir Alexander Korda. Typically he was cast as a saturnine villain: the silky menace of his Chauvelin opposite Leslie Howard's effetely charming Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel set a pattern that would be repeated with variations when Massey played Black Michael in The Prisoner of Zenda and Oswald Cabal in H. G. Wells's Things to Come. His work in these British films led to a Hollywood offer and casting as the sternly oppressive Governor De Laage in John Ford's Hurricane.
By 1938 Robert Sherwood had completed his play Abe Lincoln in Illinois and Massey opened in it on Broadway before touring throughout the USA in 1939 and 1940. In this role his angular physique, natural reserve, scratchy humour, innate authority, and fierce determination all worked to shape a strongly felt performance that embodied a vision of simple integrity that struck a resonant chord at a time when the USA was heading into another world war.
During the early 1940's Massey continued to tour the USA, playing opposite Katherine Cornell in two Shaw plays, The Doctor's Dilemma and Candida. His authority and restrained energy provided an excellent foil for her luminous charm. Massey exploited these same qualities in a staged reading of Stephen Vincent Benet's poem `John Brown's Body', in which he toured with Judith Anderson and Tyrone Power, and in his portrayals of Prospero and Brutus at the new Shakespearean Festival at Stratford, Connecticut, and his Broadway appearance as the godlike Mr Zuss in Archibald MacLeish's verse drama J.B.
Massey continued to appear in films as varied as Michael Powell's historical fantasy Stairway to Heaven, the grittily realistic Action in the North Atlantic, and the ghoulish comedy Arsenic and Old Lace. Perhaps his most memorable film role was the uncompromising father who battles with James Dean in Elia Kazan's East of Eden. By now thoroughly identified with the historical and ethical spirit of 19th-century America, Massey became a US citizen in 1944 and settled first in Wilton, Connecticut, and then in California. For five years in the early 1960's he played the genial curmudgeon Dr Gillespie in the long-running television series Dr Kildare, opposite Richard Chamberlain.
Massey made two more forays to London: he adapted Bruce Hamilton's novel The Hanging Judge for a successful run at the New Theatre, starring Sir Godfrey Tearle, and made a final appearance at the Duke of York's in 1970 in Robert Anderson's I Never Sang for My Father, with Catherine Lacey. Severely crippled by arthritis in his last years, he completed two volumes of autobiography: When I Was Young is a lively account of life in Edwardian Toronto and his experiences in World War I and A Hundred Different Lives is a richly anecdotal reminiscence of his professional career.
* As actor:
* 1922: Jack in In the Zone (O'Neill), Everyman Theatre, London.
* 1922: Roberts in Glamour (Bernard), Apollo Theatre, London.
* 1923: James Bebb in At Mrs Beam's (Munro), Everyman Theatre, London, and Royalty Theatre, London.
* 1923: Jones in The Rose and the Ring (Deans), Wyndham's Theatre, London.
* 1924: Stanley Pitt in The Audacious Mr Squire (Bowkett and Stannard), Criterion Theatre, London.
* 1924: Captain La Hire and Canon d'Estivet in Saint Joan (G. B. Shaw), New Theatre, London.
* 1925: Lieutenant Gaythorne in Tunnel Trench (Griffith), Prince's Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1925: Jonty Drennan in The Round Table (Robinson), Wyndham's Theatre, London.
* 1925: Captain Rickman in Prisoners of War (Ackerley), Court Theatre, London, and Playhouse Theatre, London.
* 1926: Robert Mayo in Beyond the Horizon (O'Neill), Everyman Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1926: Rufe Pryor in Hell-Bent for Heaven (Hughes), Everyman Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1926: Edmund Crowe in The Rat Trap (Coward), Everyman Theatre, London.
* 1926: Mr Man in Brer Rabbit (Dearmer), Everyman Theatre, London.
* 1926: Tommy Luttrell in The White Chateau (Berkeley), Everyman Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1927: Khan Aghaba in The Transit of Venus (Harwood), Ambassadors' Theatre, London.
* 1927: Rev MacMillan in An American Tragedy, Apollo Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1927: Reuben Manassa in The Golden Calf (Jerrold), Globe Theatre, London.
* 1928: Austin Lowe in The Second Man (Behrman), Playhouse Theatre, London.
* 1928: Alister Ballantyne in Four People (Malleson), St Martin's Theatre, London.
* 1928: Joe Cobb in Spread Eagle (Brooks and Lister), New Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1928: Lewis Dodd in The Constant Nymph (Kennedy and Dean), Garrick Theatre, London.
* 1929: Randolph Calthorpe in The Black Ace (Brandon and Farson), Globe Theatre, London.
* 1930: Smitty in In the Zone (O'Neill), Ambassadors' Theatre, London.
* 1930: Raymond Dabney in The Man in Possession (Harwood), Ambassadors' Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1930: Topaze in Topaze (Levy), New Theatre, London.
* 1931: Randall in Late Night Final (Weitzenkorn), Phoenix Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1931: Hamlet in Hamlet (Shakespeare), Broadhurst Theatre, New York.
* 1932: Smith in Never Come Back (Lonsdale), Phoenix Theatre, London.
* 1932: Hiram Travers in Bulldog Drummond (Munro), Adelphi Theatre, London.
* 1933: Dr Maclean in Doctor's Orders (Verneuil, adapted by Graham), Globe Theatre, London.
* 1933: Hugh Sebastian in The Rats of Norway (Winter), Playhouse Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1933: Kurt von Hagen in The Ace (Malleson, adapted from Rossmann), Lyric Theatre, London.
* 1933: Cleon in Acropolis (Sherwood), Lyric Theatre, London.
* 1934: David Linden in The Shining Hour (Winter), Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, Booth Theatre, New York, and St James's Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1936: Ethan Frome in Ethan Frome (Davis), National Theatre, New York.
* 1938: Harry Van in Idiot's Delight (Sherwood), Apollo Theatre, London; also directed.
* 1938-1940: Abraham Lincoln in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (Sherwood), Plymouth Theatre, New York.
* 1941: Sir Colenso Ridgeon in The Doctor's Dilemma (G. B. Shaw), Shubert Theatre, New York.
* 1942: James Havor Morell in Candida (G. B. Shaw), Shubert Theatre, New York.
* 1943: Rodney Boswell in Lovers and Friends, Plymouth Theatre, New York.
* 1945: Stage Manager in Our Town (Wilder), USO European tour.
* 1945: Henry Higgins in Pygmalion (G. B. Shaw), Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York.
* 1947: Professor Lemuel Stevenson in How in Wonder, Hudson Theatre, New York.
* 1949: Role in The Winslow Boy (Rattigan), US tour; US tour, 1950; also directed.
* 1949: The Captain in The Father (Strindberg), Cort Theatre, New York; also directed.
* 1955: Brutus in Julius Caesar (Shakespeare), American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, Stratford, Connecticut.
* 1955: Prospero in The Tempest (Shakespeare), American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, Stratford, Connecticut.
* 1957: Abraham Lincoln in The Rivalry (Corwin), Orpheum Theatre, Seattle; US tour, 1960.
* 1958: Mr Zuss in J.B. (McLeish), ANTA Theatre, New York.
* 1970: Tom Garrison in I Never Sang for My Father (Anderson), Duke of York's Theatre, London.
* 1975: Nonno in The Night of the Iguana (T. Williams), Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles.
* As director:
* 1927: The Wolves (Rolland), London.
* 1927: The Crooked Billet (Titheradge), Royalty Theatre, London.
* 1927: The Squall (Bart), Globe Theatre, London.
* 1928: Blackmail (Bennett), Globe Theatre, London.
* 1929: The Sacred Flame (Maugham), Playhouse Theatre, London.
* 1929: The Stag (Nichols), Globe Theatre, London.
* 1929: The Silver Tassie (O'Casey), Apollo Theatre, London.
* 1929: Symphony in Two Parts (Novello), New Theatre, London.
* 1930: Dishonoured Lady (Barnes and Sheldon), Playhouse Theatre, London.
* 1931: Lean Harvest (Jeans), St Martin's Theatre, London.
* 1931: Grand Hotel (Baum, adapted by Knoblock), Adelphi Theatre, London.
* 1931: Full Circle (Pedrolo), London.
* 1935: Ringmaster (Winter), Shaftesbury Theatre, London.
* 1935: Worse Things Happen at Sea (Winter), St James's Theatre, London.
* 1936: Heart's Content (Strode), Shaftesbury Theatre, London.
* 1937: The Orchard Walls (Hodge), St James's Theatre, London.
* The Speckled Band, 1930; The Face at the Window, 1931; The Old Dark House, 1932; The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1934; Things to Come, 1936; Fire Over England, 1936; Under the Red Robe,, 1937; The Prisoner of Zenda, 1937; Dreaming Lips, 1937; Hurricane, 1937; The Drum, 1938; Black Limelight, 1939; Abe Lincoln in Illinois, 1940; Santa Fe Trail, 1940; 49th Parallel, 1941; Dangerously They Live, 1941; Desperate Journey, 1942; Reap the Wild Wind, 1942; Action in the North Atlantic, 1943; Arsenic and Old Lace, 1944; The Woman in the Window, 1944; Hotel in Berlin, 1945; God is My Co-Pilot, 1945; A Matter of Life and Death, 1946; Possessed, 1947; Mourning Becomes Electra, 1947; The Fountainhead, 1948; Roseanna McCoy, 1949; Chain Lightning, 1949; Barricade, 1950; Dallas, 1950; Sugarfoot, 1951; Come Fill the Cup, 1951; David Bathsheba, 1951; Carson City, 1952; The Desert Song, 1953; Prince of Players, 1955; Battle Cry, 1955; East of Eden, 1955; Seven Angry Men, 1955; Omar Khayyam, 1957; The Naked and the Dead, 1958; The Great Imposter, 1960; The Fiercest Heart, 1961; The Queen's Guard, 1961; How the West Was Won, 1962; Mackenna's Gold, 1968.
* Our Town, 1948; I Spy (series), 1955; Dr Kildare (series), 1961-66; All My Darling Daughters, 1972; The President's Plane is Missing, 1973.