Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dean Stockwell - Bit Actor

I watched the Academy Awards, as I'm sure most everyone who reads blogs about classic movies did. I was glad to see that The Artist won five awards. It was a movie, not a way to show off CGI mastery. (Even though I did like Hugo.)

Another film that was talked about was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig (b. 1968) and Rooney Mara (b. 1985). Mara only has 16 titles to her name, so she may still be a Bit Actor. Titles being what they are, this title reminded me of The Boy with Green Hair (1948). I don't know why.

The boy who had that green hair was played by veteran child actor, Dean Stockwell (b. 1936). Stockwell started on film working with Greer Garson, Gregory Peck and Lionel Barrymore in The Valley of Decision (1945). and next up was Anchors Aweigh (1945) starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelley.

In 1947 he appears as Nick Jr. in the final Nick and Nora film, Song of the Thin Man. By 1950 he was receiving star billing in some movies...at age 14...including the title role in Kim, also starring Errol Flynn (1909 - 1959). In 1951 he was in Cattle Drive starring Joel McCrea (1905 - 1990).

And then...nothing. Until he shows up on television in 1956 at age 20. He works on TV in many teleplays and some series', while making a few more films. He co-stars in Compulsion (1959) with Orson Welles (1915 - 1985).

Dean Stockwell
A big role as Katherine Hepburn's son is a boost to Stockwell's career. In Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962) he appears also as Jason Robard's brother in Eugene O'Neill's classic. But also at that time, according to info found on Wikipedia, Stockwell spends some time as a hippie, which was probably not a good choice for a serious actor.

He eventually came back to acting and entered the medical field as Dr. Rudy Devereux on "Dr. Kildare." There are good roles and some really bad roles in Stockwell's future. One particularly bad film was The Werewolf of Washington (1973) which only rated a 3.7 on IMDb.

Dean continued to work hard. He has a total of 193 titles listed on IMDb. But his choices, or perhaps the projects that are offered to him, are not always A titles. You can find him in Paris Texas (1984), The Legend of Billie Jean (1985), and the TV movie "The Gambler, Part III: The Legend Continues."

Not all was bleak, and there were some better titles. Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and Married to the Mob (1988), plus a strong role on "Quantum Leap" helped him considerably. In 1997 he appears in Air Force One with Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Glenn Close, and also in The Rainmaker with Matt Damon and Danny DeVito. Not bad, but maybe not great. At least he's in very good company, and it is obvious that he is recognized as being able to turn in a credible performance.

Dean Stockwell may still show up in new work. His last listed film is The Deal (2007) starring Penelope Ann Miller (b. 1964), and he is in a few television roles up to 2009 including "Battlestar Galactica." Stockwell has a long and varied career, and against all odds, he was able to transform from a child star, to a reliable Bit Actor.