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Chester Morris Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (10)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA  (barbiturate overdose)
Birth NameJohn Chester Brooks Morris
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The Academy Award-nominated film actor Chester Morris, who will forever be associated with the character Boston Blackie, was born John Chester Brooks Morris on February 16 1901 in New York City, the son of actor William Morris and comedienne Etta Hawkins.

Chester Morris made his Broadway debut as a teenager in 1918 in the play "The Copperhead," in support of the great Lionel Barrymore, who ironically would play Boston Blackie in a silent picture (The Face in the Fog (1922)) a generation before Morris would make that role his own. A year earlier, Chester Morris had made his movie debut in Van Dyke Brooke's An Amateur Orphan (1917), but he didn't really become a movie actor until the sound era. Instead, Morris made his acting bones on the boards, appearing on Broadway in the plays "Thunder" and "The Mountain Man" in 1919. He returned to the Great White Way in 1922 in the comedy "The Exciters" following it up with the comedy-drama "Extra" in 1923. Now established, Chester Morris began billing himself as "the youngest leading man in the country."

He appeared without credit in 'Cecil B. DeMille's The Road to Yesterday (1925), though his dark, good-looks and chiseled jaw made him a natural for movie stardom, it wasn't until the transition of the movies from silent pictures to the talkies that he became a movie actor. He was one of the first actors to be nominated for an Academy Award when in 1930 (the second year of the as-yet non-nicknamed Oscars) he was recognized with a nod as Best Actor for Alibi (1929), his first talking picture. But it was his appearance in The Big House (1930), the film for which he is best known (other than his portrayal of Boston Blackie in the eponymous detective series of the 1940s) that he broke through to stardom.

From 1930 through the middle of the decade, he was a star with good roles in first-rate pictures, usually assaying a tough guy. However, his star dimmed and by the end of the decade he was appearing in B-pictures, but beginning in 1941, the Boston Blackie series at Columbia Pictures revived his career. In all, he appeared in 14 pictures as the detective. He later segued to TV work in the 1950s and '60s, appearing in the occasional film such as his last, The Great White Hope (1970), which meant he had been a working movie actor for seven decades.

Although he was afflicted with cancer, it is unclear whether he took his own life as he was apparently in good spirits and left no note September 11, 1970.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Lillian Kenton (30 November 1940 - 11 September 1970) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Suzanne Kilborn (8 November 1926 - 10 November 1939) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (10)

Son of actor William Morris.
Was appearing in a stage production of "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" at the Bucks County Playhouse at the time of his death.
Starred as the title character on NBC Radio's "Boston Blackie" (1944).
In 1952, received the deathbed confession of his friend, Roland West, for the murder of Thelma Todd in 1935.
Brother of actor Adrian Morris and writer Gordon Morris.
His younger of two sons, Kenton Morris, tragically died at age 61 on September 11, 2008, while piloting a private plane. His mother was Morris' wife, Lillian.
The Boston haircut where the hair was combed straight back over the crown and cut level at the back was a popular style in the 1940s. The style was made famous by the character of Boston Blackie, played by Chester in 14 films, and it's thought that this is the origin of the name.
Morris' maternal grandparents looked after the two DeMille boys William C. and Cecil B. when their parents were on tour.
According to director Edward Dmytyk, who worked with Morris on "Confessions of Boston Blackie," the actor hated stunt work but loved performing magician's card tricks between takes.
Was in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Alibi (1929), The Divorcee (1930) and The Big House (1930). The last two of these were released in the same year.

Personal Quotes (1)

[after appearing in thirteen 'Boston Blackie' pictures] After that, a producer wouldn't put me in an 'A' movie even if I paid for the privilege. The only thing I could do was get out and go back to the theater.

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