Robert Keith (actor)

Robert Keith (born Rolland Keith Richey, February 10, 1898 – December 22, 1966) was an American stage and film actor who appeared in several dozen films, mostly in the 1950s as a character actor.

Robert Keith
Robert Keith 1953.jpg
Keith in 1953
Rolland Keith Richey

(1898-02-10)February 10, 1898
DiedDecember 22, 1966(1966-12-22) (aged 68)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City
Years active1924–64
  • Laura Corinne Jackson (married 1917–before 1919)
  • Helena Shipman (married after 1920–1926)
(m. 1927; div. 1929)
Dorothy Tierney
(m. 1930)
ChildrenBrian Keith (1921–1997)

Early life and careerEdit

Robert Keith, Anne Revere, Florence McGee, Katherine Emery and Katherine Emmet in the original Broadway production of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour (1934)

Keith was born in Fowler, Indiana, the son of Mary Della (née Snyder) and James Haughey Richey.[1] His first wife was Laura Anne Corinne Jackson, the daughter of a prominent Cedar Rapids, Iowa family.[citation needed]

He is noted for the variety of his performances both as weak-willed and strong characters such as the father in Fourteen Hours (1951) and a psychopathic gangster in The Lineup (1958).

His best known performances are as the ineffectual police chief and father of biker Marlon Brando's love interest in the 1953 film The Wild One and as tougher, no-nonsense cop, this time Brando's antagonist, in the film musical, Guys and Dolls.

Keith had a large supporting role in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind. He had roles on television, including a role as Richard Kimble's father in The Fugitive and lead roles on episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Ten O'Clock Tiger" & "Final Escape") and The Twilight Zone ("The Masks"), which was his last screen effort, in the role of Jason Foster, the rich New Orleans patriarch to a self-centered, greed-riddled family waiting for their benefactor to die. He appeared as scientist Garson Lee in a 1954 episode of The Motorola Television Hour "Atomic Attack."

Personal lifeEdit

Keith's second wife was stage actress Helena Shipman, with whom he had a son, actor Brian Keith. On April 18, 1927, Keith married Peg Entwistle, an actress who was a decade his junior. They were divorced in 1929, with Entwistle citing abuse and domestic cruelty in her divorce filing.[2] Entwistle also stated that Keith had deceived her into believing that he had never been married before.[3][4] Keith married his fourth wife, Dorothy Tierney, in a secret wedding ceremony on an undisclosed date in 1930. They met in late 1929 while both were acting at different theatres in the San Francisco Bay Area.[5] The couple remained together until Keith's death on December 22, 1966. Among the pallbearers at his funeral were Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson, and James Cagney.[6]

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 5, 2006. Retrieved January 28, 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Zeruk, James Jr (2013). Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood sign suicide : a biography. McFarland. p. 114. ISBN 978-1476612195. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ "Hair Pulling Is Sufficient For Divorce Decree". The Montana Standard. United Press International. May 5, 1929. Archived from the original on November 14, 2021. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  4. ^ "Stage Folk Air Discord In Romance". Los Angeles Times. May 3, 1929. Archived from the original on November 14, 2021. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "Actor Forgets Lines—and Marriage Secret is Out". Oakland Tribune. June 4, 1930. Archived from the original on November 14, 2021. Retrieved November 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "Actor-Writer Robert Keith Rites Pending". Pasadena Star-News. December 27, 1966. Archived from the original on November 14, 2021. Retrieved November 14, 2021.

External linksEdit