Robert Cummings: Wikis


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Robert Cummings

Trailer for Saboteur (1942)
Born Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings
June 9, 1910(1910-06-09)
Joplin, Missouri, USA
Died December 2, 1990 (aged 80)
Woodland Hills, California, USA
Occupation Actor
Years active 1933–1986
Spouse(s) Emma Myers (1931–1933)
Vivian "Vivi" Janis[1] (1933–1945)
Mary Elliott (1945–1970)
Regina Young[1] (1971-19??)
Janie Cummings (1989–1990)

Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings (June 9, 1910 – December 2, 1990), known professionally as Bob Cummings, [2][3], was an American motion picture and television actor.

Cummings performed mainly in comedies, but was effective in his few dramas, especially two Alfred Hitchcock films, Saboteur (1942) and Dial M for Murder (1954).[4]




Early life and career

Bob Cummings was born in Joplin, Missouri, a son of Dr. Charles Clarence Cummings and his wife Ruth Annabelle Kraft.[5] His father was a surgeon, who was part of the original medical staff of St. John's Hospital in Joplin. He was the founder of the Jasper County Tuberculosis Hospital in Webb City, Missouri.[6][7] Cummings' mother was an ordained minister of the Science of Mind.[8]

While attending Joplin High School, Cummings was taught to fly by his godfather, Orville Wright.[4][9][7] During high school Cummings would give Joplin residents rides in his plane for $5 per person.[10][7]

Cummings studied briefly at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, but his love of flying caused him to transfer to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[7] He studied aeronautical engineering for a year before being forced to drop out for financial reasons, his family having lost heavily in the 1929 stock market crash.[7] Since the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City paid its male actors $14 a week, Cummings decided to study there.[1]

He studied drama for two years before appearing in Broadway in 1931.[7] As British actors were heavily in demand, Cummings traveled to England and learned to mimic an upper-class English accent.[7] He had a brief career on Broadway under the name Blade Stanhope Conway, posing as an Englishman.[1][7]

In 1933, he met and married his second wife, Vivian Janis. They were both appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies, with Cummings as the male lead opposite comedian, Fanny Brice.[7][11] In 1934, he moved to Hollywood, where he acted at first under the name Bruce Hutchens, assuming the persona of a wealthy Texan.[1][7] He made his film debut the following year in The Virginia Judge.[7]

Cummings then decided to use his own name, acting throughout the 1930s as a contract player in a number of supporting roles.[7]

Achieving stardom

He achieved stardom in 1939 in Three Smart Girls Grow Up, opposite Deanna Durbin. His many film comedies include: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) with Jean Arthur, and The Bride Wore Boots (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Cummings gave memorable performances in three notable dramas: Kings Row (1942) with friend Ronald Reagan, Saboteur (1942) with Priscilla Lane and Norman Lloyd, and Dial M for Murder (1954), with Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.[4][7] Cummings also starred in You Came Along (1945), which featured a screenplay by Ayn Rand. The Army Air Forces pilot Cummings played ("Bob Collins") died off camera, but was resurrected ten years later for his television show.

Cummings was chosen by producer John Wayne as his co-star to play airline pilot Captain Sullivan in The High and the Mighty, partly due to Cummings's flying experience. However, director William A. Wellman overruled Wayne and hired Robert Stack for the part.[12]

photographed in 1979

Cummings made his mark in the CBS Radio network's dramatic serial entitled Those We Love, which ran from 1938 to 1945. Cummings played the role of David Adair, opposite Richard Cromwell, Francis X. Bushman (a famed silent-era film actor), and Nan Grey.

World War II

In November 1942, Cummings joined the United States Army Air Forces.[13] During the war he served as a flight instructor.[4][7] Cummings had worked as a flight instructor for many years prior to the war.[7] He was, in fact, the first certified flight instructor in the United States, having gained certification in 1938.[7] After the war, Cummings served as a pilot in the United States Air Force Reserve.

Television career

Cummings began a long career on television in 1952, starring in the comedy "My Hero". He received an Emmy award for his portrayal of "Juror Number Eight," in the first televised performance of Twelve Angry Men, a live production which aired in 1954 (Henry Fonda played the same role in the feature film adaptation).[7]

From 1955 through 1959, Cummings starred on a successful NBC sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show (known as Love That Bob in reruns), in which he played Bob Collins, an ex-WWII pilot who became a successful professional photographer, and as a bachelor in 1950's Los Angeles, thought himself to be quite the ladies' man. This sitcom was noted for some very risque humor for its time. Cummings also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. Bob also made an appearance at Disneyland's grand opening on July 17, 1955.[7]

The New Bob Cummings Show followed on CBS for one season, 1961-62. He also starred one season in My Living Doll (1964), another CBS sitcom. His last significant role was the 1973 TV movie Partners in Crime, co-starring Lee Grant.

Personal life

Cummings married five times and fathered seven children. He was a staunch advocate of natural foods and a healthy diet and authored a book, Stay Young and Vital (1960), on health foods and exercise. In reference to refined products such as white flour, white rice, and sugar, he was quoted as saying, "Never eat anything white."

Cummings' son, Tony Cummings, played Rick Halloway in the daytime serial Another World in the early 1980s.


Cummings died in 1990 at the age of 80. He was interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.


  • Seasoned Greetings (1933) (short subject)
  • Sons of the Desert (1933) [as "Blade Stanhope Conway"; crowd extra]
  • The Virginia Judge (1933)
  • So Red the Rose (1935)
  • Millions in the Air (1935)
  • Desert Gold (1935)
  • Forgotten Faces (1936)
  • Border Flight (1936)
  • Three Cheers for Love (1936)
  • Hollywood Boulevard (1936)
  • The Accusing Finger (1936)
  • Hideaway Girl (1936)
  • Arizona Mahoney (1936)
  • The Last Train from Madrid (1937)
  • Souls at Sea (1937)
  • Sophie Lang Goes West (1937)
  • Wells Fargo (1937)
  • College Swing (1938)
  • You and Me (1938)
  • The Texans (1938)
  • Touchdown, Army (1938)
  • I Stand Accused (1938)
  • Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)
  • The Under-Pup (1939)
  • Rio (1939)
  • Everything Happens at Night (1939)
  • Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939)
  • And One Was Beautiful (1940)
  • Private Affairs (1940)
  • Spring Parade (1940)
  • One Night in the Tropics (1940)
  • Free and Easy (1941)
  • The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)
  • Moon Over Miami (1941)


  1. ^ a b c d e Christopher Lyon, James Vinson, Susan Doll, Greg S Faller. "The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers", page 164. St. James Press, 1987.
  2. ^ "Robert O. Cummings. DOB: June 9, 1910. DOD: December 2, 1990. California Death Index." Accessed April 19, 2009.
  3. ^ "Robert Cummings. DOB: June 9, 1910. DOD: December 2, 1990. Social Security Death Index." Accessed April 19, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d James E. Wise & Paul W. Wilderson. "Stars in Khaki: Movie Actors in the Army and the Air Aervices," Page 189. Naval Institute Press, 2000
  5. ^ Bob Cummings Biography.
  6. ^ "John Watson: A tour of Joplin Museum Complex," Cleburne Times Review (Cleburne, TX) Published May 11, 2009. Accessed June 1, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Christensen, Lawrence O. "Dictionary of Missouri Biography," Page 225. University of Missouri Press, 1999
  8. ^ Bob Cummings Biography.
  9. ^ "John Watson: A tour of Joplin Museum Complex," Cleburne Times Review (Cleburne, TX) Published May 11, 2009. Accessed June 1, 2009.
  10. ^ "John Watson: A tour of Joplin Museum Complex," Cleburne Times Review (Cleburne, TX) Published May 11, 2009. Accessed June 1, 2009.
  11. ^ H.W. Wilson Company. "Current Biography", page 17. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1956.
  12. ^ McGivern, Carolyn, The Lost Films of John Wayne, Nashville, Cumberland House, 2006, p. 82
  13. ^ Ashbu, LeRoy. "With Amusement For All", page 265. Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2006

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