Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Tribute To Morris Ankrum

Morris Ankrum:

A dependable and familiar character actor

Morris Ankrum (Morris Nussbaum) was born in Danville, Vermilion County, eastern Illinois on 28 August 1896. Ankrum graduated from The University of Southern California with a law degree and went on to an associate professorship in economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

The road toward a career in acting began at Berkeley when Ankrum became involved in the drama department and went on to teach drama and directing at the Pasadena Playhouse. Between 1923 and 1939, he acted in various Broadway stage productions such as “The Big Blow” and “Within the Gates.”

After signing with Paramount Pictures, Ankrum used the name "Stephen Morris" before changing it to Morris Ankrum in 1939.

Ankrum had the kind of presence and appearance that led him to be cast in supporting roles as an authority figure, more often than not as an army general or other military officer.

During Ankrum’s thirty year career that included some seventy mostly B-grade films, he had some notable roles. One such role was in Tennessee Johnson (1942) as Senator Jefferson Davis addressing the United States Senate upon his resignation to lead the Confederate States of America as its president.

Ankrum had numerous roles in western films and series such as Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942), Apache (1954), The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Bronco, Maverick, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Cimarron City, Rawhide and The Rifleman.

He is also well-remembered for his performances in science fiction genre films as a gruff, no-nonsense authoritative military officer assisting scientists as they fight off alien menaces to our planet. Most of these films have been and will be featured in this blog such as;

Rocketship X-M (1950), Flight to Mars (1951), Red Planet Mars (1952), Invaders From Mars (1953), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), Kronos (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Giant Claw (1957), From Earth to the Moon (1958) and X—The Man With the X-Ray Eyes (1963).

From 1957 until his death in 1964, Ankram made frequent appearances in Perry Mason playing the role of a judge presiding over murder trials.

On September 2, 1964, Ankrum died of trichinosis. His final appearance in a TV series was on the Perry Mason, episode, "The Case of the Sleepy Slayer," and his last film appearance was in Guns of Diablo (1965), released after his death. 

Morris Ankrum in The Giant Claw (1957)
Big Bird Battle Scene (OMG!)

©Chris Christopoulos 2015