Conrad Nagel

Last updated
Conrad Nagel
Conrad Nagel - Apr 1922 Photoplay.jpg
Nagel in 1922
John Conrad Nagel

(1897-03-16)March 16, 1897
Keokuk, Iowa, U.S.
DiedFebruary 24, 1970(1970-02-24) (aged 72)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting place Garden State Crematory
Education Des Moines College
Highland Park College
Years active1918–1967
Ruth Helms
(m. 1924;div. 1934)
(m. 1945;div. 1948)
Michael Coulson Smith
(m. 1955;div. 1956)

John Conrad Nagel (March 16, 1897 – February 24, 1970) was an American film, stage, television and radio actor. [1] He was considered a famous matinée idol and leading man of the 1920s and 1930s. He was given an Academy Honorary Award in 1940 and three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.


Early life

Born in Keokuk, Iowa, [2] into an upper-middle-class family, he was the son of a musician father, Dr. Frank L. Nagel, who was of German descent, and a mother, Frances (née Murphy), who was a locally praised singer. Nagel's mother died early in his life, and he always attributed his artistic inclination to growing up in a family environment that encouraged self-expression. When Nagel was three, his father, Frank, became dean of the music conservatory at Highland Park College in Des Moines, and the family moved there.[ citation needed ]

After graduating from Highland Park College, Nagel left for California to pursue a career in the relatively new medium of motion pictures where he garnered instant attention from the Hollywood studio executives. With his 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) frame, blue eyes, and wavy blond hair; the young, Midwestern Nagel was seen by studio executives as a potentially wholesome matinee idol whose unpretentious all-American charm would appeal to the nation's nascent film-goers.[ citation needed ]

Film career

Nagel was immediately cast in film roles that cemented his unspoiled lover image. His first film was the 1918 retelling of Little Women, which quickly captured the public's attention and set Nagel on a path to silent film stardom. His breakout role came in the 1920 film, The Fighting Chance , opposite Swedish starlet Anna Q. Nilsson. In 1918, Nagel was elected to The Lambs, the theatrical club. [3]

In 1927, Nagel starred alongside Lon Chaney Sr., Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran in the now lost Tod Browning directed horror film, London After Midnight . Unlike many other silent films stars, Nagel had little difficulty transitioning to sound films. His baritone voice was judged to be perfect for sound, so he appeared in about thirty films in only two years. He described the time as a "great adventure." He was working so steadily that one night when he and his wife planned to go to the movies, he was in films playing at Grauman's, Loew's, and Paramount's theaters. "We couldn't find a theater where I wasn't playing. So we'd go back home. I was an epidemic." [4] He spent the next several decades being very well received in high-profile films as a character actor. He was also frequently heard on radio and made many notable appearances on television. [1]

The Academy and SAG

On May 11, 1927, Nagel was among 35 other film industry insiders to found the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS); a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. Fellow actors involved in the founding included: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Richard Barthelmess, Jack Holt, Milton Sills, and Harold Lloyd. He served as president of the organization from 1932 to 1933. [1] He was also a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).[ citation needed ]

Nagel was the host of the 3rd Academy Awards ceremony held on November 5, 1930, the 5th Academy Awards on November 18, 1932, and a co-host with Bob Hope at the 25th Academy Awards ceremony on March 19, 1953. The 21-year gap between his appearances in 1932 and 1953 is a record for an Oscar ceremonies host.[ citation needed ]

Radio and television

Nagel was the announcer for Alec Templeton Time , a musical variety program on NBC Radio in the summer of 1939. [5] He was the host on Silver Theatre, a summer replacement program that began June 8, 1937. [6]

From 1937 to 1947, he hosted and directed the radio program Silver Theater . He then hosted the TV game show Celebrity Time from 1948 to 1952 and the DuMont Television Network program Broadway to Hollywood from 1953 to 1954.

From September 14, 1955, to June 1, 1956, Nagel hosted Hollywood Preview , a 30-minute show on the DuMont Television Network which featured Hollywood stars with clips of upcoming films.

In 1961, again on television but in an acting role, he made a guest appearance on the popular courtroom drama Perry Mason , portraying the character Nathan Claver, an art collector and murderer, in the episode "The Case of the Torrid Tapestry". [7]

In 1962 he guest-starred on the TV Western Gunsmoke as the vengeful Major Emerson Owen in S7E33's “The Prisoner”.

Personal life

Nagel married and divorced three times. [2]

Nagel died in 1970 in New York City at the age of 72. [2] A spokesman for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner said that Nagel's death was "due to natural causes", more specifically, a heart attack and emphysema. He added that no autopsy was planned. [8]

Awards and honors

In 1940, Nagel was given an Honorary Academy Award for his work with the Motion Picture Relief Fund. [9]

For his contributions to film, radio, and television, Nagel was given three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1719 Vine Street (motion pictures), 1752 Vine Street (radio), and 1752 Vine Street (television). [10]




In the M*A*S*H episode "Abyssinia, Henry" which featured McLean Stevenson's final appearance on the show Lt. Col. Blake finds out that his mother-in-law used his brown double-breasted suit to attend a costume party dressed as Conrad Nagel.[ citation needed ]

Radio appearances

1953Theater of LifeThree Miracles [11]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noah Beery</span> American actor (1882–1946)

Noah Nicholas Beery was an American actor who appeared in films from 1913 until his death in 1946. He was the older brother of Academy Award-winning actor Wallace Beery as well as the father of prominent character actor Noah Beery Jr. He was billed as either Noah Beery or Noah Beery Sr. depending upon the film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clive Brook</span> English film actor (1887–1974)

Clifford Hardman "Clive" Brook was an English film actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tully Marshall</span> American actor (1864–1943)

Tully Marshall was an American character actor. He had nearly a quarter century of theatrical experience before his debut film appearance in 1914 which led to a film career spanning almost three decades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ernest Torrence</span> Scottish actor

Ernest Torrence was a Scottish film character actor who appeared in many Hollywood films, including Broken Chains (1922) with Colleen Moore, Mantrap (1926) with Clara Bow and Fighting Caravans (1931) with Gary Cooper and Lili Damita. A towering figure, Torrence frequently played cold-eyed and imposing villains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. P. McGowan</span> Australian film director

John Paterson McGowan was a pioneering Hollywood actor and director and occasionally a screenwriter and producer. McGowan remains the only Australian to have been made a life member of the Screen Directors Guild.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Collier Jr.</span> American actor (1902–1987)

William Collier Jr. was an American stage performer, producer, and a film actor who in the silent and sound eras was cast in no fewer than 89 motion pictures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bert Lytell</span> American actor

Bertram Lytell was an American actor in theater and film during the silent film era and early talkies. He starred in romantic, melodrama, and adventure films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lionel Belmore</span> English actor

Lionel Belmore was an English character actor and director on stage for more than a quarter of a century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Otis Harlan</span> American actor (1865–1940)

Otis Harlan was an American actor and comedian. He voiced Happy, one of the Seven Dwarfs in the Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William V. Mong</span> American actor

William V. Mong was an American film actor, screenwriter and director. He appeared in almost 200 films between 1910 and 1939. His directing (1911–1918) and screenwriting (1911–1922) were mostly for short films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lew Meehan</span> American actor

James Lew Meehan was an American film actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alec B. Francis</span> English actor

Alec B. Francis was an English actor, largely of the silent era. He appeared in more than 240 films between 1911 and 1934.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alfred Abel</span> German actor (1879–1937)

Alfred Peter Abel was a German film actor, director, and producer. He appeared in more than 140 silent and sound films between 1913 and 1938. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George K. Arthur</span> English actor

Arthur George Brest, known professionally as George K. Arthur, was an English actor and producer, born in Aberdeen, Scotland,. He appeared in more than 50 films between 1919 and 1935, and is best known as the diminutive half of the comedy team of Dane & Arthur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">DeWitt Jennings</span> American actor

DeWitt Clarke Jennings was an American film and stage actor. He appeared in 17 Broadway plays between 1906 and 1920, and in more than 150 films between 1915 and 1937.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gustav von Seyffertitz</span> German actor

Gustav von Seyffertitz was a German film actor and director. He settled in the United States. He was born in Haimhausen, Bavaria, and died in Los Angeles, California, aged 81.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edna Murphy</span> American actress

Edna Murphy was an American actress of the silent era. She appeared in 80 films between 1918 and 1933. Murphy was voted "Most Photographed Movie Star of 1925" by ScreenLand Magazine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Irving (American actor)</span> American actor

George Henry Irving was an American film actor and director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Julius Falkenstein</span> German actor

Julius Falkenstein was a German stage and film actor of the silent era. He appeared in more than 180 films between 1914 and 1933. Falkenstein was Jewish, but secured a special permit to continue making films following the Nazi rise to power in 1933. He died of natural causes the same year, having made only one further film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Paulig</span> German actor

Albert Paulig was a German film actor who was popular during the silent era. Paulig made his first film in 1914. The following year he appeared in one of Ernst Lubitsch's first directorial attempts, A Trip on the Ice (1915). Paulig was in a number of Harry Piel, thrillers including The Man Without Nerves (1924).


  1. 1 2 3 Slide, Anthony (February 1, 2010). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. p. 263. ISBN   978-0813137452.
  2. 1 2 3 "Old-Time Star Conrad Nagel Found Dead". The Dispatch . Lexington, North Carolina. February 25, 1970. p. 13. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  3. "History of The Lambs". The Lambs, Inc. 15 October 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  4. Eyman, Scott (March 13, 1997). The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930 . New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN   978-1439104286 . Retrieved August 18, 2019. epidemic.
  5. Dunning, John (May 7, 1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp.  22-23. ISBN   978-0-19-507678-3 . Retrieved 2019-09-26. Alec Templeton Time, musical variety.
  6. "Radio Headliners In Star Roles on "Silver Theatre"". Harrisburg Telegraph. May 31, 1947. p. 17. Retrieved May 28, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  7. "The Case of the Torrid Tapestry", S04E23, Perry Mason series, originally broadcast in the United States on the CBS television network, April 22, 1961. IMDb. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  8. "Conrad Nagel, Actor, Dies at 72; Star of Stage and Silent Pictures". The New York Times . 25 February 1970.
  9. "Nagel, Conrad". The Lambs, Inc. 2020. Archived from the original on September 24, 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2023.
  10. "Conrad Nagel". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on February 18, 2014. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  11. Kirby, Walter (July 5, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved July 5, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Succeeded by