Stack in c. 1950s
Charles Langford Modini Stack
January 13, 1919
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||May 14, 2003 84) (aged|
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Westwood, Los Angeles|
|Occupation||Actor, Television Host|
Rosemarie Bowe (m. 1956)
Robert Stack (born Charles Langford Modini Stack, January 13, 1919 – May 14, 2003) was an American actor, sportsman, and television host. In addition to acting in more than 40 feature films, he starred in the landmark ABC-TV television series The Untouchables (1959–1963), for which he won the 1960 Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series, and later hosted/narrated true crime series Unsolved Mysteries (1987–2002). He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film Written on the Wind (1956).
The Untouchables is an American crime drama that ran from 1959 to 1963 on the ABC Television Network, produced by Desilu Productions. Based on the memoir of the same name by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, it fictionalized Ness's experiences as a Prohibition agent, fighting crime in Chicago in the 1930s with the help of a special team of agents handpicked for their courage, moral character, and incorruptibility, nicknamed the Untouchables. The book was later made into a film in 1987 by Brian De Palma, with a script by David Mamet, and a second, less-successful TV series in 1993.
An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is an American award that recognizes excellence in the television industry, and is the equivalent of an Academy Award, the Tony Award, and the Grammy Award.
Unsolved Mysteries is an American true crime television program, created by John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer. Documenting cold cases and paranormal phenomena, the show began as a series of seven specials, presented by Raymond Burr, Karl Malden, and Robert Stack, beginning on NBC on January 20, 1987, becoming a full-fledged television program on October 5, 1988, hosted by Stack. After nine seasons on NBC, the program moved to CBS for its 10th season on November 13, 1997. After adding Virginia Madsen as a co-host during season 11 failed to boost slipping ratings, CBS cancelled the program after only a two-season, 12-episode run on June 11, 1999. The program was revived by Lifetime in 2000, with season 12 beginning on July 2, 2001. Unsolved Mysteries aired 103 episodes on Lifetime, before ending on September 20, 2002, an end that coincided with Stack's illness and eventual death.
He was born Charles Langford Modini Stack in Los Angeles, California, but his first name, selected by his mother, was changed to Robert by his father. He spent his early childhood in Europe (Limerick, Ireland). He became fluent in French and Italian at an early age, and did not learn English until returning to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.
California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.
His parents divorced when he was a year old, and he was raised by his mother, Mary Elizabeth (née Wood). His father, James Langford Stack, a wealthy advertising agency owner, later remarried his mother, but died when Stack was 10.
He had always spoken of his mother with the greatest respect and love. When he collaborated with Mark Evans on his autobiography, Straight Shooting, he included a picture of himself and his mother. He captioned it, "Me and my best girl." His maternal grandfather, the opera singer Charles Wood, studied voice in Italy and performed there under the name "Carlo Modini." On the paternal side of his family, Stack had another opera-singer relative: the American baritone Richard Bonelli (born George Richard Bunn), who was his uncle.
By the time he was 20, Stack had achieved minor fame as a sportsman. He was an avid polo player and shooter. His brother and he won the International Outboard Motor Championships, in Venice, Italy; and at age 16, he became a member of the All-American Skeet Team.He set two world records in skeet shooting and became National Champion. In 1971, he was inducted into the National Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame. He was a Republican.
Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers. In 2018, 260,897 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.
Skeet shooting is a recreational and competitive activity where participants, using shotguns, attempt to break clay targets mechanically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles.
Stack took drama courses at Bridgewater State College. His deep voice and good looks attracted producers in Hollywood.
Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.
When Stack visited the lot of Universal Studios at age 20, producer Joe Pasternak offered him an opportunity to enter the business. Recalled Stack, "He said, 'How'd you like to be in pictures? We'll make a test with Helen Parrish, a little love scene.' Helen Parrish was a beautiful girl. 'Gee, that sounds keen,' I told him. I got the part."
Joseph Herman "Joe" Pasternak was a Hungarian-born American film producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with singing stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950. Pasternak worked in the film industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of the classical Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.
Helen Parrish was an American movie actress, the daughter of stage and film actress Laura Parrish.
Stack's first film, which teamed him with Deanna Durbin, was First Love (1939), produced by Pasternak. This film was considered controversial at the time. He was the first actor to give Durbin an on-screen kiss.
Stack won critical acclaim for his next role, The Mortal Storm (1940) starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart, and directed by Frank Borzage at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He played a young man who joins the Nazi party.
Back at Universal, Stack was in Pasternak's A Little Bit of Heaven (1940), starring Gloria Jean who was that studio's back-up for Deanna Durbin. Stack was reunited with Durbin in Pasternak's Nice Girl? (1941).
Stack then starred in a Western, Badlands of Dakota (1942), co-starring Richard Dix and Frances Farmer. He was borrowed by United Artists to play a Polish Air Force pilot in To Be or Not To Be (1942), alongside Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. Stack admitted he was terrified going into this role, but he credited Lombard—who he'd known personally for several years—with giving him many tips on acting and with being his mentor. Lombard was killed in a plane crash shortly before the film was released.
Stack played another pilot in Eagle Squadron (1942), a huge hit. He then made a Western, Men of Texas (1942).
During World War II, Stack served as an Aerial Gunnery Officer and gunnery instructor in the United States Navy.
Stack resumed his career after the war with roles in such films as Fighter Squadron (1948) at Warners with Edmond O'Brien, playing a pilot; A Date with Judy (1948) at MGM, with Wallace Beery and Elizabeth Taylor.
Stack was in two films at Paramount: Miss Tatlock's Millions (1948) and Mr. Music (1950). He had an excellent role in Bullfighter and the Lady (1951), a passion project of Budd Boetticher for John Wayne's company.
Stack supported Mickey Rooney in My Outlaw Brother (1951) and had the lead in the adventure epic Bwana Devil (1952), considered the first color, American 3-D feature film. It was released by United Artists who also put Stack in a Western, War Paint (1953). He continued making similar low budget action fare: Conquest of Cochise (1953) for Sam Katzman; Sabre Jet (1953), playing another pilot, this time in the Korean War; The Iron Glove (1954), a swashbuckler where Stack played Charles Wogan, for Katzman.
Stack was back in "A" pictures when he appeared opposite John Wayne in The High and the Mighty (1954), playing the pilot of an airliner who comes apart under stress after the airliner encounters engine trouble. The film was a hit and Stack received good reviews.
Sam Fuller cast him in the lead of House of Bamboo (1955), shot in Japan for 20th Century Fox. He supported Jennifer Jones in Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955), also at Fox, and starred in Great Day in the Morning (1956) at RKO.
Stack was then given an excellent part in Written on the Wind (1956), directed by Douglas Sirk and produced by Albert Zugsmith. Stack played another pilot, the son of a rich man who marries Lauren Bacall who falls for his best friend, played by Rock Hudson. The movie was a massive success and Stack was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor; Dorothy Malone, who played Stack's sister, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Malone won, but Stack lost, to Anthony Quinn. Stack felt that the primary reason he lost to Quinn was that 20th Century Fox, who had loaned him to Universal-International, organized block voting against him to prevent one of their contract players from winning an Academy Award while working at another studio.
Stack was reunited with Hudson, Malone, Zugsmith and Sirk on The Tarnished Angels (1957), once more playing a pilot. At Fox he was in The Gift of Love (1958) with Bacall.
Stack then was given a real star role, playing the title part in John Farrow's biopic, John Paul Jones (1959). Despite a large budget and an appearance by Bette Davis it was not a success.
Stack portrayed the crimefighting Eliot Ness in the award-winning ABC television hit drama series, The Untouchables (1959–1963). The show portrayed the ongoing battle between gangsters and a special squad of federal agents in prohibition-era Chicago. The show won Stack the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at the 12th Primetime Emmy Awards in 1960.
During the series' run, Stack starred in a disaster movie, The Last Voyage (1960), appearing opposite Malone. At Fox he was in The Caretakers (1963) with Joan Crawford.
After The Untouchables Stack had small roles in Is Paris Burning? (1966) and The Peking Medallion (1967).
Stack starred in a new drama series, rotating the lead with Tony Franciosa and Gene Barry in the lavish The Name of the Game (1968–1971). He played a former federal agent turned true-crime journalist, evoking memories of his role as Ness.
Stack played a pilot in the TV movie Murder on Flight 502 (1975) and was the lead in the series Most Wanted (1976), playing a tough, incorruptible police captain commanding an elite squad of special investigators, also evoking the Ness role. He later did a similar part in the series Strike Force (1981).
He made a film in France, Second Wind (1978).
Stack parodied his own persona in the comedy 1941 (1979). His performance was well received and Stack became a comic actor, appearing in Airplane! (1980), Big Trouble (1986), Plain Clothes (1988), Caddyshack II (1988), Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996), and BASEketball (1998). He also provided the voice for the character Ultra Magnus in The Transformers: The Movie (1986).
In a more serious vein he appeared in the action movie Uncommon Valor (1983), the television miniseries George Washington (1984) and Hollywood Wives (1985), and appeared in several episodes of the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest in 1986.
Stack's series Strike Force was scheduled opposite Falcon Crest, where it quickly folded. [ citation needed ]
He began hosting Unsolved Mysteries in 1987. He thought very highly of the interactive nature of the show, saying that it created a "symbiotic" relationship between viewer and program, and that the hotline was a great crime-solving tool. Unsolved Mysteries aired from 1987 to 2002, first as specials in 1987 (Stack did not host all the specials, which were previously hosted by Raymond Burr and Karl Malden), then as a regular series on NBC (1988–1997), then on CBS (1997–1999) and finally on Lifetime (2001–2002). Stack served as the show's host during its entire original series run.
In 1991, Stack voiced the main police officer Lt. Littleboy (who is also the main protagonist and narrator) in The Real Story of Baa Baa Black Sheep. For a brief period between 2001 and 2002, Stack voiced Stoat Muldoon, a character featured on the computer-animated television series, Butt-Ugly Martians on Nickelodeon.
In 1996, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
Stack was married to actress Rosemarie Bowe from 1956 until his death. He underwent radiation therapy for prostate cancer in October 2002 and died of a myocardial infarction on May 14, 2003.
He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California.
|1953||Family Theater||The Indispensable Man|
|1950||Lux Radio Theatre||Mr Belvedere Goes To College|
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