Ian Keith

Ian Keith(February 27, 1899 – March 26, 1960) was an American actor.

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 Ian Keith's Life and career

BornKeith Rossin Boston, Massachusetts , Ian Keith was a veteran character actor of the legitimate theater, and appeared in a variety of colorful roles in silent features of the 1920s. His stage training made him a natural choice for the new "talking pictures"; he played John Wilkes Booth in D. W. Griffith 's first talkie,Abraham Lincoln. Keith had a major role as a gambler in director Raoul Walsh 's 1930 widescreen westernThe Big Trailstarring John Wayne . In 1932, Cecil B. DeMille cast him inThe Sign of the Cross. This established him as a dependable supporting player, and he went on to play dozens of roles—including Octavian ( Augustus ) in Cleopatra —in major and minor screen fare for the next three decades.

Ian Keith's tall frame (6' 2"), dark, handsome features (usually clean-shaven), and his resonant voice served him well. He became one of DeMille's favorites, appearing in many of the producer's epic films. He handled costume roles and modern-day professional types with equal aplomb. He portrayed Count de Rochefort in both the 1935 version and the 1948 remake . In the 1940s he became even busier, working primarily in "B" features and westerns and alternating between playing good guys (a chief of detectives inThe Payoff, a friendly hypnotist inMr. Hex, a blowhard politician inShe Gets Her Man) and bad guys (a murder suspect inThe Chinese Cat, a crooked lawyer inBowery Champs, a swindler inSinging on the Trail). He appeared in a supporting role to Tyrone Power inNightmare Alley(1947) as a former vaudevillian turned carny who has succumbed to alcoholism. He also had a definite flair for comedy, and his florid portrayal of the comic-strip ham actor "Vitamin Flintheart" inDick Tracy vs. Cueballwas so amusing that he repeated the role in two more films.

His authoritative stature also lent himself to tough-guy military roles, such as Admiral Burns in Robert Gordon 's sci-fi epic,It Came From Beneath the Sea(1955).

He also appeared on many television episodes in the 1950s. In 1955, he was seen on screen in his only Shakespeare role, when he made a cameo appearance as the Ghost opposite Richard Burton 's Hamlet in a sequence from the Edwin Booth biopicPrince of Players. Cecil B. DeMille brought him back to the big screen forThe Ten Commandments(1956); Keith played Ramses I .


Keith died on March 26, 1960, and was cremated in New York City.

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 Ian Keith's Marriages

  • Blanche Yurka (1922 - 1926)
  • Ethel Clayton (1928 - 1931)
  • Fern Andra (m. in 1932 and again in 1934, when the legality of the first ceremony was questioned; divorced; in 1938 Andra married again)
  • Hildegarde Pabst (? - 1960)

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 Ian Keith's Partial filmography

  • The Tower of Lies(1925)
  • Prince of Tempters(1926)
  • The Lookout Girl(1928)
  • A Tailor Made Man(1931)
  • Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)(1931)
  • The Sin Ship(1931)
  • Queen Christina (film)(1933)
  • Dangerous Corner(1934)
  • The Three Musketeers(1935)
  • Comet Over Broadway(1938)
  • The Three Musketeers(1948)
  • Prince of Players(1955)

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 Ian Keith's References

  1. Fairfax, Arthur (December 28, 1940). "Mr. Fairfax Replies" (PDF). Movie Radio Guide 10 (12): 43. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 

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