Robert Montgomery

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Robert Montgomery

Robert MontgomeryWhen Robert Montgomery joined the Guild and the Board of Directors in October 1933, he was the father of a baby daughter, Elizabeth Montgomery, (who would find television fame as the star of Bewitched in the 1960's.) A leading star at MGM -- signed in 1929 when he was 25 -- tall, debonair, recognized as one of the best-dressed men in Hollywood, "Bob" wielded considerable clout, and did not hesitate to use it. 1933: Made on Broadway set As Colliers magazine once put it: "Nobody Pushes Bob Around." In later years, James Cagney stated "I can honestly say that without Montgomery there would be no Guild. He was there: when the time came for speaking up, he spoke up." The Guild's future Executive Secretary, Jack Dales, watched him in action during negotiations at MGM for the extra players in 1938, recalling: ..."finally Bob Montgomery hit the table, and he said 'You know, you people should be ashamed of yourselves. 1930: being directed in Divorcee You have no compunction about robbing an extra. You won't challenge me, but an extra you will take on like this. You take advantage of the helpless. Why don't you pick on people your own size?'" Born as Henry Montgomery, Jr., in 1904, his youth was spent in secure comfort: attending private schools in New York and, later, Europe. But at age 18, in 1922, security vanished: after his father (vice-president of the New York Rubber Company) died, the family discovered they were broke. Young Montgomery found employment as a railroad mechanic's assistant, and even a deckhand on a tanker, before deciding it was no life for him. He moved to New York and, by 1924, changed his name to "Robert" and made his Broadway debut in the short-lived The Face and the Mask. 1941: Here Comes Mr. Jordan with Jimmie Gleason A few weeks later, he won another Broadway role in Dawn where he fell in love with a 20 year-old actress from a socially prominent Louisville, Kentucky family, Elizabeth "Betty" Allen. They married in 1928. In 1937, President Montgomery, like a proud father, wrote praise and predictions about the newly-recognized Screen Actors Guild: "Few of us realize that we have founded an institution. It does not belong to any group or clique of actors; it belongs to all of us. It does not even belong to the present generation of actors. If we have built solidly, it belongs to the future as well as the present, not only to those now playing, but also to those who have not yet made their mark upon the scene." The following year, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as a killer in Night Must Fall (1937), and received another Oscar nomination in 1942 for Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941).