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Tom Conway

from the trailer for
Grand Central Murder (1942)
Born Thomas Charles Sanders
15 September 1904(1904-09-15)
St. Petersburg, Russia
Died 22 April 1967 (aged 62)
Culver City, Los Angeles
Occupation actor
Years active 1940–1964
Spouse(s) Queenie Leonard
(11 February 1958–11 February 1963, divorced)
Lillian Eggers
(10 August 1941–24 July 1953, divorced)

Tom Conway (15 September 1904 – 22 April 1967) was a British film and radio actor, and the brother of actor George Sanders.


Early life

Conway was born to English parents as Thomas Charles Sanders in St. Petersburg, Russia; his younger brother was actor George Sanders, whom Conway strongly resembled, especially in his speaking voice. At the outbreak of the Russian Revolution (1917), the family moved back to England, where both brothers were educated at Brighton College. The brothers tossed a coin to decide which would change his surname to avoid any confusion with each other.[citation needed]


Conway is remembered today for playing "The Falcon" in ten of that series' entries, taking over from his brother in The Falcon's Brother, in which they both star. Conway also played Sherlock Holmes following Basil Rathbone's departure from the 19461947 radio series. Despite an uncanny similarity to the sound of Rathbone's voice, he was not accepted as Holmes by the listening audience and was replaced in the same year by John Stanley. Conway also starred in three of film producer Val Lewton's horror films while a contract actor for RKO Pictures, twice playing Dr. Louis Judd in two otherwise unrelated films—Cat People (1942) and The Seventh Victim a year later—-even though the character was killed in the first film. The third Val Lewton film in which he starred was I Walked with a Zombie (1943).

His screen career diminished in the 1950s, but he appeared in a number of English films, on radio, and on television. In 1951, Conway replaced Vincent Price as the star of the radio mystery series The Saint, taking on a role that his brother, Sanders, had played on film a decade earlier. In October, 1957, Conway performed as Max Collodi in Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "The Glass Eye" to critical praise.

Later life and death

Despite making over $1 million in his twenty-four year film career, Conway later struggled to make ends meet. Failing eyesight and prolonged bouts with alcohol took their toll on Conway in his last years. His second wife, Queenie Leonard divorced him in 1963, due to his drinking problem, and George Sanders also broke off all contact with him because of it.

Conway underwent cataract surgery during the winter of 1964-65. In September 1965 Tom briefly returned to the headlines when he was discovered living in a $2-a-day room in a Venice, California flophouse. Gifts, contributions and offers of aid poured in - for a time. Conway, still standing tall and trim, his hair now white, peered owl-like through thick-lensed glasses at the newspaper cameras.

His last years were marked with further visits to the hospital. It was there that former sister-in-law Zsa Zsa Gabor visited him one day and gave him $200. "Tip the nurses a little bit so they'll be good to you," she told him. The following day, the hospital called her to say that Conway had left with the $200, gone to his girlfriend's and died in her bed. It was April 22, 1967, and Conway died from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 62.


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