Lewis Frederick Ayres III
December 28, 1908
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||December 30, 1996 88) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park|
(m. 1931;div. 1933)
(m. 1934;div. 1940)
Lewis Frederick Ayres III (December 28, 1908 – December 30, 1996) was an American actor whose film and television career spanned 65 years. He is best known for starring as German soldier Paul Bäumer in the film All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and for playing Dr. Kildare in nine films.  He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Johnny Belinda (1948).
Ayres was born in Minneapolis  to Irma Bevernick and Louis Ayres, who divorced when he was four. Louis, an amateur musician and court reporter, remarried soon afterwards.
As a teen, he and his mother moved with his step-father, William Gilmore,  and half brother and sister to San Diego, California. 
Leaving high school before graduating, he started a small band which traveled to Mexico. He returned months later to pursue an acting career, but continued working full-time as a musician. He played banjo and guitar for big bands, including the Henry Halstead Orchestra. He recorded one of the earliest Vitaphone movie shorts called Carnival Night in Paris (Warner Brothers, 1927).
Ayres wrote, "I was a member of Henry Halstead's orchestra in 1927 at the Mission Beach Ballroom in San Diego, California for the summer. My instruments were tenor banjo, long-neck banjo and guitar. After a hiatus, I rejoined Mr. Halstead with a new group, including Phil Harris, on New Year's Eve the same year for the opening night of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a memorable occasion."[ citation needed ]
He left a national tour to pursue a career as an actor full-time.
Ayres was discovered at a night club by talent agent Ivan Kahn. He was cast to play opposite Greta Garbo in The Kiss (1929), but it was his leading role in the original version of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) that made him a star, secured him a contract with Universal—and made him a conscientious objector to World War II.
He made a number of mostly forgotten B movies for Universal, with the exception of Iron Man (1931), with Jean Harlow. His most successful movies at this time were those he made on loan to other studios, including The Doorway to Hell (1930) with James Cagney in a supporting role, and as Janet Gaynor's leading man in both State Fair (1933) and Servants' Entrance (1934), which featured a combination of live action and Walt Disney animation in a musical dream sequence, both for Fox Films.
Ayres left Universal to sign with Fox Films. In 1934, Fox listed him as one of its second tier stars. 
He moved to poverty row studio Republic Pictures to pursue a second career as a director, including the film Hearts in Bondage (1936), starring James Dunn and Mae Clarke. He moved to Paramount Pictures before finally being signed to MGM in 1938. At this time, he was loaned from Paramount to play the role of Ned in Holiday (1938).
The role earned him considerable critical attention, including interest from MGM to put him under contract specifically for the role of Dr. James Kildare in an upcoming film series. Ayres played the role in nine films from 1938 to 1942 (and again in a 1950s radio series) while also appearing in light comedies for MGM, including Spring Madness and Rich Man, Poor Girl (both 1938), The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939), and Fingers at the Window (1942). His final film as Dr. Kildare, Born to Be Bad, was re-edited after he was drafted and declared himself a conscientious objector in March 1942.
He returned to acting in the films The Dark Mirror (1946) with Olivia de Havilland and The Unfaithful (1947) with Ann Sheridan. For his role in Johnny Belinda (1948) he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, while co-star Jane Wyman won Best Actress.
Ayres gradually moved to television, appearing in several anthology series in guest roles. In the summer of 1958, he hosted eleven original episodes of a CBS Western anthology television series called Frontier Justice , a production of Dick Powell's Four Star Television. He was offered the part of Dr. Kildare in an NBC series but his prescient request that the show have no cigarette advertising led to the offer being withdrawn, and the part going, in 1961, to Richard Chamberlain. He appeared as the vice-president in Advise & Consent (1962), and in The Carpetbaggers (1964), but he was by then primarily a television actor, with only occasional film work.
For a guest role in Kung Fu ("The Vanishing Image", 1974) he was nominated for an Emmy.
His documentary film Altars of the World (1976), based on a series of documentaries he made titled Altars of the East (1956), brought his Eastern philosophical beliefs to the screen and earned him critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award for best documentary in 1977. 
Ayres guest-starred in an episode of The Bionic Woman ("Doomsday is Tomorrow", 1977) as Dr. Elijah Cooper, an elderly nuclear scientist who attempts to blackmail the world into peace.
In 1985, he was cast in his first series as a regular cast member, as the father of Robert Wagner in the short-lived series Lime Street. His last role was in the made-for-TV film Hart to Hart: Crimes of the Heart (1994), also starring Wagner.
In March 1942, Ayres was identified as a 4E conscientious objector and sent to a CO camp. As expected, the announcement that a Hollywood actor objected to the war was a major source of public outcry and debate. 
Within a month it was determined that he had initially requested to be A-O-1, so that he could serve as a non-combat medic. However, the military's policy that servicemen cannot request, or be guaranteed, where they will serve, forced him to request a 4E status. The U.S. military confirmed that they would place him as a medic and in April 1942, his status was changed. He enlisted in the United States Army on May 18, 1942. 
He served as a first aid instructor in the United States Army before requesting a drop in rank in order to serve as a medic and chaplain's assistant in the Pacific. He was one of 16 medics who arrived under fire during the invasion of Leyte to set up evacuation hospitals, and there he provided care to soldiers and civilians in the Philippines and New Guinea. He donated all the money he had earned as a serviceman to the American Red Cross. 
Serving for three and a half years in the Medical Corps, he was awarded three battle stars. After the war, he resumed his career and made scores of movies, but never reached the peak of his early Hollywood stardom, except when he was nominated for an Oscar. 
Ayres was married three times. First to actress Lola Lane from 1931 until 1933, although they were separated much of that period.  He met actress Ginger Rogers while starring in the film Don't Bet on Love in 1933 and they wed 1934. They separated in 1936 and divorced in March 1940.  His third marriage, to Diana Hall, lasted from 1964 until his death in 1996.  Their son Justin was born in 1968.
In 1960, Lew Ayres was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with two stars. His motion pictures star is located at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard while his radio star is located at 1724 Vine Street.  
Ayres died on December 30, 1996.   His body was buried under a simple headstone at Westwood Memorial Park in Westwood, Los Angeles. 
Lionel Barrymore was an American actor of stage, screen and radio as well as a film director. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in A Free Soul (1931), and remains best known to modern audiences for the role of villainous Mr. Potter in Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.
Dr. James Kildare is a fictional American medical doctor, originally created in the 1930s by the author Frederick Schiller Faust under the pen name Max Brand. Shortly after the character's first appearance in a magazine story, Paramount Pictures used the story and character as the basis for the 1937 film Internes Can't Take Money, starring Joel McCrea as Jimmie Kildare. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) subsequently acquired the rights and featured Kildare as the primary character in a series of American theatrical films in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Several of these films were co-written by Faust, who also continued to write magazine stories and novels about the character until the early 1940s. Kildare was portrayed by Lew Ayres in nine MGM films.(Ayres was drafted in 1942 and served as a non-combatant medic until 1946.) Later films set in the same hospital featured Dr. Gillespie. Ayres returned to voice the Kildare character in an early 1950s radio series. The 1961–1966 Dr. Kildare television series made a star of Richard Chamberlain and gave birth to a comic book and comic strip based on the show. A short-lived reboot of the TV series, Young Doctor Kildare, debuted in 1972 and ran for 24 episodes.
Joel Albert McCrea was an American actor whose career spanned a wide variety of genres over almost five decades, including comedy, drama, romance, thrillers, adventures, and Westerns, for which he became best known.
Alan Hale Sr. was an American actor and director. He is best remembered for his many character roles, in particular as a frequent sidekick of Errol Flynn, as well as films supporting Lon Chaney, Wallace Beery, Douglas Fairbanks, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, and Ronald Reagan. Hale was usually billed as Alan Hale and his career in film lasted 40 years. His son, Alan Hale Jr., also became an actor and remains most famous for playing "the Skipper" on the television series Gilligan's Island.
Sidney Alderman Blackmer was an American Broadway and film actor active between 1914 and 1971, usually in major supporting roles.
Young Dr. Kildare is a 1938 film directed by Harold S. Bucquet and starring Lew Ayres as Dr. James Kildare, an idealistic, freshly graduated medical intern, who benefits greatly from the wise counsel of his experienced mentor, Dr. Leonard Gillespie. The film was based on a story and characters created by author Frederick Schiller Faust, writing as Max Brand.
Kent Taylor was an American actor of film and television. Taylor appeared in more than 110 films, the bulk of them B-movies in the 1930s and 1940s, although he also had roles in more prestigious studio releases, including Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), I'm No Angel (1933), Cradle Song (1933), Death Takes a Holiday (1934), Payment on Demand (1951), and Track the Man Down (1955). He had the lead role in Half Past Midnight in 1948, among a few others.
John Reginald Owen was a British actor. He was known for his many roles in British and American films and television programs.
Archibald L. Mayo was a film director, screenwriter and actor.
William Bakewell was an American actor who achieved his greatest fame as one of the leading juvenile performers of the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Philip Dorn, sometimes billed as Frits van Dongen, was a Dutch American actor who had a career in Hollywood. He was best known for portraying the father in the film I Remember Mama (1948).
Samuel Southey Hinds was an American actor and former lawyer. He was often cast as kindly authority figures and appeared in more than 200 films until his death.
Nella Walker was an American actress and vaudeville performer of the 1920s through the 1950s.
Herbert Halliwell Hobbes was an English actor.
Dr. Kildare's Victory is a 1942 film directed by W. S. Van Dyke. It stars Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore. It is the ninth and last of the MGM Dr. Kildare movie series.
Dr. Kildare Goes Home is a 1940 American drama film directed by Harold S. Bucquet, starring Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore and Laraine Day. It is the fifth in the MGM series of nine films with Lew Ayres as Dr. Kildare made from 1938–1942.
George H. Reed was an American actor working in the Hollywood film industry in both the silent and sound eras. His first major film was the 1920 Huckleberry Finn where he played Jim. He is also remembered for the film The Green Pastures (1936), which featured an all–African American cast, and the orderly Conover in MGM's Dr. Kildare series.
Dr. Kildare's Crisis is a 1940 drama film directed by Harold S. Bucquet, starring Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore and Laraine Day. Mary Lamont's financier brother Douglas Lamont is subject to seizures, and it seems that he is suffering from hereditary epilepsy.
Dr. Kildare is an NBC medical drama television series which originally ran from September 28, 1961, until August 30, 1966, for a total of 191 episodes over five seasons. Produced by MGM Television, it was based on fictional doctor characters originally created by author Max Brand in the 1930s and previously used by MGM in a popular film series and radio drama. The TV series quickly achieved success and made a star of Richard Chamberlain, who played the title role. Dr. Kildare inspired or influenced many later TV shows dealing with the medical field. Dr. Kildare aired on NBC affiliate stations on Thursday nights at 8:30–9:30 p.m. until September 1965, when the timeslot was changed to Monday and Tuesday nights at 8:30–9:00 p.m. through the end of the show's run.
John Hugh Elliott was an American actor who appeared on Broadway and in over 300 films during his career. He worked sporadically during the silent film era, but with the advent of sound his career took off, where he worked constantly for 25 years, finding a particular niche in "B" westerns.