Roland Young (11 November 1887 – 5 June 1953) was an English-born actor. He began his acting career on the London stage, but later found success in America and received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the film Topper (1937).

Roland Young
Born(1887-11-11)11 November 1887
London, England
Died5 June 1953(1953-06-05) (aged 65)
New York City, U.S.
EducationUniversity College London
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1908–1953
Marjorie Kummer
(m. 1921; div. 1940)
Dorothy Patience May DuCroz
(m. 1948)

In 1960, Young was posthumously honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions in the television and motion pictures industries.[1]

Early life edit

Born in London, England, Young was the son of an architect, and early indications were that he would pursue the father's career.[2] He was educated at Sherborne School, Sherborne, Dorset and University College London before being accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where his fellow classmate was Gordon Richards.[3]

Career edit

Young made his first stage appearance in London's West End in Find the Woman in 1908, and in 1912 he made his Broadway debut in Hindle Wakes.[2] He appeared in two comedies written for him by Clare Kummer, Good Gracious Annabelle! (1916) and A Successful Calamity (1917) before he served with the United States Army during World War I.[1] He returned to New York when the war ended, and married Kummer's daughter Majorie in 1921 after they costarred in Kummer's Rollo's Wild Oat.[4] For the next few years, he alternated between New York and London. He made his film debut in the 1922 silent film Sherlock Holmes, in which he played Watson opposite John Barrymore as Holmes.

He signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and made his talkie debut in The Unholy Night (1929), directed by Lionel Barrymore. He was loaned to Warner Bros. to appear in Her Private Life (also 1929), with Billie Dove and Fox Film Corporation, winning critical approval for his comedic performance as Jeanette MacDonald's husband in Don't Bet on Women (1931). He was again paired with MacDonald Annabelle's Affairs (1931), a talkie version of Good Gracious Annabelle!. He appeared in Cecil B. de Mille's The Squaw Man, and played opposite Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in The Guardsman (both 1931). He appeared with Evelyn Brent in Columbia's The Pagan Lady (also 1931) and Pola Negri in RKO's A Woman Commands (1932). His final film under his MGM contract was Lovers Courageous (1932), opposite Robert Montgomery. He had a starring role in a risqué comedy for Fox entitled Pleasure Cruise (1933) alongside Genevieve Tobin.

Freelance performer edit

Young began to work as a freelance performer and found himself in constant demand. He appeared with Jeanette MacDonald, Genevieve Tobin and Maurice Chevalier in One Hour With You (1932) and with Kay Francis in Street of Women (1932). Alexander Korda invited him to return to Britain to make his British film debut in Wedding Rehearsal (1932). He returned to Hollywood and appeared in a diverse group of films that included comedies, murder mysteries, and dramas, and also worked on Broadway. Among his films of this period were Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), David Copperfield (1935) (playing Uriah Heep), and the H.G. Wells fantasy The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936).

In 1937, he achieved one of the most important successes of his career in Topper, as a bank president haunted by the ghosts of his clients, played by Cary Grant and Constance Bennett. It was one of the most successful films of the year, and Young was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Topper's wife was played by Billie Burke, who wrote in her memoir that Young "was dry and always fun to work with". They also appeared together in The Young in Heart (1938), and both of the Topper sequels, Topper Takes a Trip (1938) and Topper Returns (1941). He continued to play supporting roles in comedies such as Yes, My Darling Daughter, with Fay Bainter and Priscilla Lane, but over the next few years the importance of his roles again decreased. He achieved another success as Uncle Willie in The Philadelphia Story (1940) with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart. His last starring role was in the final instalment of the Topper series, Topper Returns in 1941, with Billie Burke, Joan Blondell and Carole Landis.

Later life and career edit

He continued working steadily through the 1940s, playing small roles opposite some of Hollywood's leading actresses, such as Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Paulette Goddard and Greta Garbo in her final film, Two-Faced Woman (1941). In 1945, he began his own radio show and appeared in the film adaption of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. By the end of the decade his film career had declined, and his final films, including The Great Lover (1949), in which he played a murderer opposite Bob Hope, and Fred Astaire's Let's Dance (1950), were not successful.

In the 1950s, Young appeared on several episodic television series, including Lux Video Theatre, Studio One, Pulitzer Prize Playhouse and The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre.

Recognition edit

Young has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for film at 6523 Hollywood Blvd. and another for television at 6315 Hollywood Blvd. Both were dedicated 8 February 1960.[1]

Personal life edit

Young was married twice, to Marjorie Kummer from 1921 until 1940, and to Patience DuCroz from 1948 until his death at home in New York City at 65 in 1953.[5]

Filmography edit

Year Film Role Director Notes
1922 Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson Albert Parker
1924 Grit Houdini Hart Frank Tuttle Lost film
1926 Camille Lord Kyne Ralph Barton Short
1928 Walls Tell Tales Short
1929 Her Private Life Charteris Alexander Korda
The Unholy Night Lord Montague Lionel Barrymore
Wise Girls Duke Merrill E. Mason Hopper
1930 The Bishop Murder Case Sigurd Arnesson Nick Grinde
Madam Satan Jimmy Wade Cecil B. DeMille
New Moon Count Strogoff Jack Conway
1931 Don't Bet on Women Herbert Drake William K. Howard
The Prodigal Doc aka Somerset Greenman Harry A. Pollard
Annabelle's Affairs Roland Wimbleton Alfred L. Werker
The Squaw Man Sir John Applegate Cecil B. DeMille
The Pagan Lady Dr. Heath John Francis Dillon
1931 The Guardsman The Critic Harold S. Bucquet
1932 Lovers Courageous Jeffrey Robert Z. Leonard
A Woman Commands King Alexander E. J. Babille
One Hour with You Professor Olivier Ernst Lubitsch
This Is the Night Gerald Gray Frank Tuttle
Street of Women Linkhorne 'Link' Gibson Archie Mayo
Wedding Rehearsal The Marquis of Buckminster Alexander Korda
They Just Had to Get Married Hillary Hume Edward Ludwig
1933 A Lady's Profession Lord Reginald Withers Norman Z. McLeod
Pleasure Cruise Andrew Poole Frank Tuttle
Blind Adventure The Burglar Ernest B. Schoedsack
His Double Life Priam Farrel William C. deMille
1934 Here is My Heart Prince Nicholas/Nicki Frank Tuttle
1935 David Copperfield Uriah Heep George Cukor
Ruggles of Red Gap George – Earl of Burnstead Leo McCarey
1936 The Unguarded Hour Bunny Sam Wood
One Rainy Afternoon Maillot Rowland V. Lee
Give Me Your Heart Tubbs Barrow Archie Mayo
1937 The Man Who Could Work Miracles George McWhirter Fotheringay Lothar Mendes
Gypsy Alan Brooks Roy William Neill
Call It a Day Frank Haines Archie Mayo
King Solomon's Mines Commander John Good Geoffrey Barkas
Topper Mr. Cosmo Topper Norman Z. McLeod Academy Award nomination - Best Supporting Actor
Ali Baba Goes to Town Sultan David Butler
1938 Sailing Along Anthony Gulliver Sonnie Hale
The Young in Heart 'Sahib' Carleton Richard Wallace
Topper Takes a Trip Mr. Cosmo Topper Norman Z. McLeod
1939 Yes, My Darling Daughter Titus Jaywood William Keighley
Here I Am a Stranger Prof. Daniels Roy Del Ruth
The Night of Nights Barry Keith-Trimble Lewis Milestone
1940 He Married His Wife Bill Carter Roy Del Ruth
Star Dust Thomas Brooke Walter Lang
Irene Mr. Smith Herbert Wilcox
Private Affairs Amos Bullerton Albert S. Rogell
Dulcy Roger Forbes S. Sylvan Simon
The Philadelphia Story William Q. Tracy (Uncle Willie) George Cukor
No, No, Nanette Mr. 'Happy' Jimmy Smith Herbert Wilcox
1941 Topper Returns Cosmo Topper Roy Del Ruth
The Flame of New Orleans Charles Giraud René Clair
Two-Faced Woman O.O. Miller George Cukor
1942 The Lady Has Plans Ronald Dean Sidney Lanfield
They All Kissed the Bride Marsh Alexander Hall
Tales of Manhattan Edgar Julien Duvivier
1943 Forever and a Day Henry Barringer [1]
1944 Standing Room Only Ira Cromwell Sidney Lanfield
1945 And Then There Were None Detective William Henry Bloor René Clair
1948 Bond Street George Chester-Barrett Gordon Parry
You Gotta Stay Happy Ralph Tutwiler H.C. Potter
1949 The Great Lover C.J. Dabney Alexander Hall
1950 Let's Dance Edmund Pohlwhistle Norman Z. McLeod
1951 St. Benny the Dip Matthew Edgar G. Ulmer
Lux Video Theatre Sumner TV
1953 That Man from Tangier George Robert Elwyn

Partial list of stage appearances edit

See also edit

Bibliography edit

  • Actors and Others (Pascal Covici, 1925)
  • Not For Children: Pictures and Verse (Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1930)
  • Thorne Smith: His Life and Times (Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1934)

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Roland Young". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b Halasz, George (27 May 1928). "Quit Architecture for the Stage". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 93. Retrieved 12 September 2015 – via  
  3. ^ "Gordon Richards, 70, Actor On Broadway and in Films". The New York Times. 17 January 1964.
  4. ^ (7 February 1921). Roland Young and Clare Kummer's Daughter Married, New York Herald
  5. ^ "Roland Young Dies in Home Here at 65". New York Times. 7 June 1953. p. 84. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  • Shipman, David, The Great Movie Stars, The Golden Years, Bonanza Books, New York, 1970. Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 78-133803

External links edit