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  • actor David Manners lived for 67 years after starring in the 1931 film Dracula, but never watched it?

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David Manners

David Manners as Jonathan Harker in Dracula (1931).
Born Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom
April 30, 1900(1900-04-30)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died December 23, 1998 (aged 98)
Santa Barbara, California
Years active 1929 - 1936
Spouse(s) Suzanne Bushnell (1929-1931)

David Manners (April 30, 1900 – December 23, 1998) was a Canadian - American film actor.

Born Rauff de Ryther Daun Acklom in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Manners came to Hollywood at the beginning of the talking films revolution after studying acting with Eva Le Gallienne, and acting on stage with Helen Hayes. His family moved to New York City in 1907 and to Hastings-on-Hudson, New York in 1922.

In spite of his father's protestations of his thespian ambitions and his even having studied forestry (which bored him) at the University of Toronto, Manners resolutely pursued a stage career and appeared in both Broadway and out-of-town productions, one of which induced Le Gallienne to comment that he was "a very bad actor".

Contents

A Hollywood career

Manners was serendipitously "discovered" by the film director James Whale at a Hollywood party, and within a few years, he was a popular leading man, playing opposite such up and coming actresses as Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Stuart, Myrna Loy, Loretta Young, and Ann Dvorak, and he was paired several times with Helen Chandler.

His very first film, directed by Whale, was unfortunately destroyed before having been released, but with his second movie, Journey's End (1930), The New York Times and Variety officially bestowed their imprimatur upon the fledgling film actor. His subsequent film appearances in movies made at RKO Radio Pictures and Warner Brothers were critically praised (again including The New York Times, an early and prescient adherent of his acting abilities), and he was contracted by the latter studio.

In late 1930, he filmed his most famous role, as the hero John Harker (in the 1897 novel Dracula, the character's first name is Jonathan) opposite Bela Lugosi, in Universal's 1931 horror classic, Dracula. Until the end of his life, Manners continued to receive fan mail from fans of the movie.

Numerous films followed. In only his tenth movie, he co-starred with one of the "grand dames of the silver screen," Barbara Stanwyck, in Frank Capra's critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful The Miracle Woman (1931), and the movie's failure to attract an audience disappointed Capra tremendously. But the New York Times, again lauding Manners, featured this tribute, "Manners does exceptionally well with this sympathetic assignment."

During his brief tenure at Warners, which loaned him out to other studios quite frequently, Manners progressed from callow featured actor and leading man to finally attaining star stature with the lead in Crooner (1932). Shortly thereafter, he began to freelance with much success.

In a film made just prior to the termination of his Warner Bros. contract, RKO's A Bill of Divorcement, co-star Katharine Hepburn commented that, "David was a big star. I was so nervous working with him... He was... just a dear to work with and a totally professional and talented actor."

A year later an ingenue remarked that, "David wasn't in the one scene I did in Roman Scandals, but he watched every scene shot. He was tremendously enthusiastic, and he...invited me to supper. ... He was mobbed everywhere. All the time he kept telling me I had style and personality. He said if I persevered I'd get somewhere in Hollywood. Not once did he ever hint that he'd like to take me home to his boudoir. ... He was so utterly charming." That ingenue who did persevere was Lucille Ball.

Many studios vied for his talent and services besides RKO and Warner Brothers, including Columbia, Universal, Paramount, Fox Film Corporation, Tiffany Pictures, and United Artists.

Pursuit of other interests

After the success of Dracula, Manners worked for several years as a romantic leading man, and was most often seen in a tuxedo in romantic comedies and light dramas. The Last Flight (1931), a "Lost Generation" celebration of alcohol in Paris, and Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932) with Boris Karloff were two standouts. But by 1936 he had grown bored with Hollywood, and abandoned his film career.

Manners never acclimated to Hollywood, which he found to be "a false place". Although he co-founded the Screen Actors Guild along with the efforts of James Cagney and Eddie Cantor in 1933, he returned to New York City. From 1936 to 1956, he lived near Victorville, California on a ranch, and then in Pacific Palisades and Santa Barbara, living with a male partner until the partner's death in 1978. [1]

In 1940, he officially changed his name to David Joseph Manners and became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He returned to the theater where he worked regularly until his retirement in the 1950s. Appearing on Broadway, in summer stock, and on tour, Manners was cast in a variety of productions, including the ill-fated Broadway production of the Agatha Christie play Hidden Horizon (1946). The acclaimed actor Marlon Brando, who was cast along with Manners in Maxwell Anderson's play Truckline Cafe (1946), said of his colleague, "I owe him my entire career."

He spent the remainder of his life in private pursuits, such as painting and writing. Several of his novels, published by Dutton, sold over 100,000 copies each. His reflections on philosophy and Being were put forth in Look Through: An Evidence of Self Discovery, published in 1971 by El Cariso Publications.

He died in Santa Barbara, California on December 23, 1998 at the age of 98.

Filmography

Bibliography

  • Clive Hirschhorn, The Warner Bros. Story (New York: Crown Publishers, New York, 1979)
  • Ephraim Katz, The Film Encyclopedia (New York: Harper Perennial, 1980)
  • D. McMurchy, "David Manners: A Perfect Gentleman", Classic Images (July 1999), vol. 289
  • David Morgan Jones, The Wonder Within You, Trafford Publishing (2006), ISBN 1412050138 ISBN 978-1412050135

References

  1. ^ David Morgan Jones, The Wonder Within You (Trafford Publishing, 2006), ISBN 1412050138 ISBN 978-1412050135

External links

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