The Ubiquitous George Macready

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Tribute today to actor George Macready (1899-1973).

While a relatively minor stage and screen star, I have four special reasons (besides his talent) for including him here. One is that he claimed a (plausible) lineage from classical thespian William Macready. And even if it ain’t true, he’s a smart cookie for encouraging that notion. Secondly, he’s a fellow Rhode Islander, born and raised in Providence, and was a graduate of Brown. And third – – he was close friends with Vincent Price, and co-owned an art gallery with him in the 1960s. And fourth, Lenny Bruce did an impression of him early in his career — sniffing glue!

Macready’s stage career began in the 1920s. He was closely associated with the director Richard Boleslawski, and played numerous classical roles. Both Macready and Price were in the 1935-37 production of Victoria Regina starring Helen Hayes; this is probably where the two met and became chums.

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Macready didn’t break into films until the mid-1940s. A prominent scar on his face limited how he could be cast. Though it was from a car accident, it could be implied that it was from fencing or some other tawdry struggle. This combined with his fine voice and diction, meant that he was almost invariably cast as classy villains. The performance I always associate him with is as the heartless general in Stanley Kubrick’s Path’s of Glory (1957). He’s also in the noir classic Gilda (1946), the all-star 1953 Julius Caesar, the western Vera Cruz (1954), the sick-o murder story A Kiss Before Dying (1956), Roy Del Ruth’s ridiculous horror movie The Alligator People (1959), nuclear thriller Seven Days in May (1964) and the Blake Edwards comedy The Great Race (1965). Above all, one tends to associate him with television. He was a regular on Peyton Place, and a guest star on practically every series of the 50s and 60s you can name, especially westerns: Bonanza, The Rifleman, Bat Masterson, Have Gun – Will Travel, etc etc etc. One of Macready’s last roles was as Secretary of State Cordell Hull in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).

To find out more about  show business historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for this precis. Macready also holds a certain footnotoriety via Lenny Bruce’s “Airplane Glue” routine. I’d have linked this comment to YouTube but the Bruce clip is prefaced by an obnoxious Republican(!) campaign ad. I wonder how Lenny would have reacted to that little irony.

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