Today is the birthday of Roy D’Arcy (Roy Francis Giusti, 1894-1969). I am wracking my brains this morning as to how he ever got onto my radar — and I think it is because I saw him in Revolt of the Zombies (1936) a few months ago. D’Arcy specialized in screen villains. But we get ahead of ourselves.
Originally from San Francisco, D’Arcy is said to have “traveled with a band of Gypsies” and studied painting in Paris before returning to the U.S. to go on the stage. He sang in the choruses of musical comedies, and toured in vaudeville as a monologist throughout the early twenties. His break was when Erich Von Stroheim cast him as the villain in The Merry Widow (1925). Throughout the remainder of the silent era, he enjoyed stardom playing evil characters in such films as La Boheme (1926) and The Temptress (1926). When talkies arrived he was mostly relegated to B movies, serials and westerns for such studios as Monogram and Mascot, although one of his last roles was an uncredited part in Fred and Ginger’s The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). In the 40s he retired from show business and went into real estate.
For more on vaudeville history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.