July 8th, 2007

carole lombard 06
  • vp19

Ralph Bellamy remembers



In many of more than 100 movie appearances, Ralph Bellamy's character never won the girl. However, he invariably won the audience's respect for his talent and professionalism.

The quintessential second lead, Bellamy worked in Hollywood for nearly 60 years. His cast of his first feature film, "The Secret Six," included Jean Harlow and Clark Gable; the cast of his last, "Pretty Woman," included Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Not a bad set of career bookends. He was also one of the founders of the Screen Actors Guild and served four terms as president of Actors' Equity.



Bellamy made two films with Lombard -- "Hands Across The Table" (1935), playing a wealthy, wheelchair-bound former aviator (nearly a quarter-century later on both stage and screen, Bellamy would use a wheelchair in his signature role, as Franklin D. Roosevelt in "Sunrise At Campobello"), and the Warners misfire "Fools For Scandal" (1938).

In 1983, eight years before his death at age 87, Bellamy was interviewed by John A. Gallagher. It's a fascinating oral history well worth watching, and it can be found divided into five parts on YouTube. He briefly discusses Carole at the start of part 4. Enjoy the recollections of one of filmdom's class acts:

part 1, where he discusses his stage work in a stock company and how it prepared him as an actor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETymAwzuqlo

part 2, where he talks about working under Harry Cohn at Columbia and also acting for legendary director John Ford:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3PwhdcRjSI

part 3, where he talks about his two films with director Tay Garnett:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GVi-XcgRQY

part 4, where he talks about "Hands Across The Table" and Carole ("great girl to work with") and working with director King Vidor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZX2AsFuG40

part 5, where he discusses filming "The Awful Truth" with director Leo McCarey and how fellow director Gregory La Cava tried to copy McCarey's improvisational style, with disastrous results:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdWYEZ3CtcY

And speaking of "The Awful Truth" (which Lombard got to perform in a 1940 radio adaptation, with Bellamy reprising his film role), here's a clip from that screwball classic of Bellamy and Irene Dunne singing "Home On The Range." It's hilarious: