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Ralph Bellamy 1904-1991

Country : Chicago, IL
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1904-06-17
Date of death : 1991-11-29
Cause of Death : Respiratory failure

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Ralph Rexford Bellamy (June 17, 1904 – November 29, 1991) was an American actor with a career spanning sixty-two years.

Early life

Bellamy was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lilla Louise Smith, a native of Canada, and her husband Charles Rexford Bellamy. He began his acting career on stage, and by 1927 owned his own theatre company. In 1931, he made his film debut and worked constantly throughout the decade to establish himself as a capable supporting actor. Bellamy received the lead role in the 1936 film Straight from the Shoulder.

Film career

He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Awful Truth (1937) opposite Irene Dunne and Cary Grant and played a similar part (a naive, aw-shucks boyfriend competing with the sophisticated light-comedy Grant character) in His Girl Friday (1940). He portrayed detective Ellery Queen in a few films during the 1940s, but as his film career did not progress, he returned to the stage, where he continued to perform throughout the fifties. Highly regarded within the industry, he was a founder of the Screen Actors Guild and served as President of Actors' Equity from 1952-1964.

He was briefly married to organist Ethel Smith from 1945 to 1947. Bellamy was also married to Alice Delbridge (1927-1930), Catherine Willard (1931-1945), and, finally, Alice Murphy (1949-1991).

In the 1930's and 40's. Bellamy was regularly seen socially with a select circle of friends known affectionetly as the Irish Mafia. This group consisted of a group of Hollywood A-listers mainly of Irish descent (despite Bellamy having no Irish family connections himself). Others included James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Spencer Tracy, Lynne Overman, Frank Morgan and Frank McHugh.

Bellamy was a regular panelist on the CBS television game show To Tell the Truth during its initial run. He also starred in the television detective series Follow That Man (aka "Man Against Crime").

In the 1963-1964 television season, Bellamy co-starred with Jack Ging in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour, having appeared as a psychiatrist in private practice. Wendell Corey had appeared in the first season of the series.

On Broadway he appeared in one of his most famous roles, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello. He later starred in the 1960 film version. In the summer of 1961, Bellamy hosted nine original episodes of a CBS Western anthology series called Frontier Justice, a Dick Powell Four Star Television production.

On film, he also starred in Rosemary's Baby (1968) as a devilish physician, before turning to television during the 1970s. An Emmy Award nomination for the mini-series The Winds of War (1983) - in which Bellamy reprised his Sunrise at Campobello role of Franklin Roosevelt - brought him back into the limelight. This was quickly followed by his role as Randolph Duke, a conniving billionaire alongside Don Ameche in Trading Places (1983).

In the 1988 Eddie Murphy film, Coming to America, Bellamy and co-star Don Ameche reprised a one-scene cameo of their roles as the Duke brothers. After Randolph and Mortimer Duke lost their enormous fortune at the end of Trading Places, in Coming to America, the brothers are homeless and living on the streets. Prince Akeem (Murphy) gives them a paper bag filled with money, which they gratefully accept and exclaim "We're back!" (failing to notice that the generous Akeem bears an uncanny resemblance to Billy Ray Valentine, the man who had ruined them).

Final years

In 1984, he was presented with a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and in 1987 received an Honorary Academy Award "for his unique artistry and his distinguished service to the profession of acting".

Among his later roles was a memorable appearance as a once-brilliant but increasingly forgetful lawyer sadly skewered by the Jimmy Smits character on an episode of L.A. Law.

He continued working regularly and gave his final performance in Pretty Woman (1990).

He died as a result of a lung ailment at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and was buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Awards and honours

Bellamy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6542 Hollywood Boulevard.

In a 2007 episode of Boston Legal, footage of a 1957 episode of Studio One was used. The episode featured Bellamy and William Shatner as a father-son duo of lawyers. This was used in the present-day to explain the relationship between Shatner's Denny Crane character and his father in the show.



  • The Secret Six (1931)
  • The Magnificent Lie (1931)
  • West of Broadway (1931)
  • Surrender (1931)
  • Forbidden (1932)
  • Disorderly Conduct (1932)
  • Young America (1932)
  • The Woman in Room 13 (1932)
  • Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932)
  • Almost Married (1932)
  • Wild Girl (1932)
  • Air Mail (1932)
  • Second Hand Wife (1933)
  • Parole Girl (1933)
  • Below the Sea (1933)
  • Destination Unknown (1933)
  • Picture Snatcher (1933)
  • The Narrow Corner (1933)
  • Flying Devils (1933)
  • Blind Adventure (1933)
  • Headline Shooter (1933)
  • Ace of Aces (1933)
  • Ever in My Heart (1933)
  • Before Midnight (1933)
  • Spitfire (1934)
  • Once to Every Woman (1934)
  • This Man Is Mine (1934)
  • Crime of Helen Stanley (1934)
  • One Is Guilty (1934)
  • Girl in Danger (1934)
  • Woman in the Dark (1934)
  • Helldorado (1935)
  • Rendezvous at Midnight (1935)
  • Gigolette (1935)
  • The Wedding Night (1935)
  • Eight Bells (1935)
  • Air Hawks (1935)
  • The Healer (1935)
  • Navy Wife (1935)
  • Hands Across the Table (1935)
  • Dangerous Intrigue (1936)
  • Roaming Lady (1936)
  • The Final Hour (1936)
  • Straight from the Shoulder (1936)
  • The Man Who Lived Twice (1936)
  • Wild Brian Kent (1936)
  • Counterfeit Lady (1936)
  • Let's Get Married (1937)
  • It Can't Last Forever (1937)
  • The Awful Truth (1937)
  • The Crime of Dr. Hallet (1938)
  • Fools for Scandal (1938)
  • Boy Meets Girl (1938)
  • Carefree (1938)
  • Girls' School (1938)
  • Trade Winds (1938)
  • Smashing the Spy Ring (1939)
  • Let Us Live (1939)
  • Blind Alley (1939)
  • Coast Guard (1939)
  • His Girl Friday (1940)
  • Flight Angels (1940)
  • Brother Orchid (1940)
  • Queen of the Mob (1940)
  • Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
  • Public Deb No. 1 (1940)
  • Meet the Wildcat (1940)
  • Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940)
  • Footsteps in the Dark (1941)
  • Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery (1941)
  • Affectionately Yours (1941)
  • Dive Bomber (1941)
  • Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime (1941)
  • Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941)
  • The Wolf Man (1941)
  • The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
  • Lady in a Jam (1942)
  • Men of Texas (1942)
  • The Great Impersonation (1942)
  • Stage Door Canteen (1943)
  • Guest in the House (1944)
  • Delightfully Dangerous (1945)
  • Lady on a Train (1945)
  • The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)
  • Sunrise at Campobello (1960)
  • The Professionals (1966)
  • Rosemary's Baby (1968)
  • Doctors' Wives (1971)
  • Cancel My Reservation (1972)
  • Oh, God! (1977)
  • Trading Places (1983)
  • Disorderlies (1987)
  • Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
  • Coming to America (1988)
  • The Good Mother (1988)
  • Pretty Woman (1990)

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