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Burgess Meredith

Filmography

1935      

The Scoundrel

 

1936      

Winterset

 

1937      

There Goes the Groom 

 

1938      

Spring Madness

 

1939      

Idiot’s Delight 

Of Mice and Men 

 

1940      

Castle on the Hudson

Second Chorus 

The San Francisco Docks

 

1941      

That Uncertain Feeling 

Tom, Dick and Harry 

The Forgotten Village

 

1942      

Street of Chance 

 

1943      

A Welcome to Britain 

The Rear Gunner

 

1944      

Our Country 

Hymn of the Nations 

Salute to France

Tunisian Victory 

Attack! Battle of New Britain 

 

1945      

The Story of G.I. Joe

A Walk in the Sun 

 

1946      

The Diary of a Chambermaid 

Magnificent Doll 

 

1947      

Mine Own Executioner 

 

1948      

On Our Merry Way 

 

1949      

Jigsaw

A Yank Comes Back

Golden Arrow

The Man on the Eiffel Tower 

 

1950      

Works of Calder 

 

1954      

Screen Snapshots: Hollywood’s Invisible Man 

 

1957      

Joe Butterfly 

Albert Schweitzer

 

1958      

The Kidnappers 

Sorcerer’s Village 

 

1959      

America Pauses for Springtime

America Pauses for the Merry Month of May 

 

1962      

Advise and Consent 

 

1963      

The Cardinal  

 

1965      

In Harm’s Way 

 

1966      

Madame X 

Batman 

The Crazy Quilt 

A Big Hand for the Little Lady 

 

1967      

Torture Garden 

Hurry Sundown 

 

1968      

Stay Away, Joe 

Skidoo 

Dear Mr. Gable 

Debrief: Apollo 8 

 

1969      

The Father

Mackenna’s Gold 

Hard Contract 

The Reivers 

 

1970      

There Was a Crooked Man…

The Yin and the Yang of Mr. Go 

 

1971      

Clay Pigeon

Such Good Friends 

 

1972      

A Fan’s Notes 

Beware! The Blob 

Mineral King 

The Man 

 

1974      

Hay que matar a B. 

Garden Needles

 

1975      

The Day of the Locust

92 in the Shade

The Master Gunfighter 

The Hindenburg 

 

1976      

Circasia 

Burnt Offerings 

Rocky 

 

1977      

The Sentinel 

Golden Rendezvous 

 

1978      

The Manitou 

Foul Play 

The Great Bank Hoax 

Magic

 

1979      

Rocky II 

 

1980      

When Time Ran Out

Final Assignment 

 

1981      

The Last Chase 

Clash of the Titans 

True Confessions 

 

1982      

Rocky III 

 

1983      

Twilight Zone: The Movie 

 

1985      

Santa Claus: The Movie

Rocky IV (archival footage)

 

1987      

G.I. Joe: The Movie 

King Lear 

 

1988      

Hot to Trot 

Full Moon in Blue Water 

 

1990      

Oddball Hall 

State of Grace

Rocky V (Flashback)

 

1993      

Grumpy Old Men

 

1994      

Camp Nowhere 

 

1995      

Tall Tale

Across the Moon 

Grumpier Old Men 

 

2006      

Rocky Balboa (archival footage)

Awards

Burgess Meredith was nominated for two Best Actor in a Supporting Role Academy Awards for The Day of the Locust (1975) and Rocky (1976).

I was born a character actor. I was never really a leading man type. ~ Burgess Meredith

Burgess Meredith: Learn more about him, review his filmography and more

Actors, Biographies

Burgess Meredith was born in 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Ida Beth (née Burgess) and Dr. William George Meredith, a Canadian-born physician.

Meredith graduated from Hoosac School in 1926 and then attended Amherst College (class of 1931). He left Amherst, and became a reporter for the Stamford Advocate. He later served in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II, reaching the rank of captain. During 1943 he appeared in a training film for the US Army on “A Welcome to Britain” which discussed how to behave in Britain. He was discharged in 1944 to work on the movie The Story of G.I. Joe, in which he played the war correspondent Ernie Pyle.

In 1929, he became a member of Eva Le Gallienne’s Civic Repertory Theatre company in New York City. Although best known to the larger world audience for his film and television work, Meredith was an influential actor and director for the stage. He made his Broadway debut as Peter in Le Gallienne’s production of Romeo and Juliet (1930) and became a star in Maxwell Anderson’s Winterset (1935), which became his film debut the following year.

Early in his career, Meredith attracted favorable attention, especially for playing George in a 1939 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and as war correspondent Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe (1945). He was featured in many 1940s films, including three — Second Chorus (1940), Diary of a Chambermaid (1946), and On Our Merry Way (1948) — co-starring then-wife Paulette Goddard. He also played alongside Lana Turner in Madame X. As a result of the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigation, Meredith was placed on the Hollywood blacklist, and was largely absent from film for the next decade, though he remained involved in stage plays and radio during this time.

Meredith was a favorite of director Otto Preminger, who cast him in Advise and Consent (1962), The Cardinal (1963), In Harm’s Way (1965), Hurry Sundown (1967), Skidoo (1968), and Such Good Friends (1971). He was in Stay Away Joe (1968), appearing as the father of Elvis Presley’s character. In 1975, he received critical acclaim for his performance as Harry Greene in The Day of the Locust and received nominations for the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Academy Award for best supporting actor. Meredith then played Rocky Balboa’s trainer, Mickey Goldmill, in the first three Rocky films (1976, 1979, and 1982). Though his character died in the third Rocky film, he returned briefly in a flashback in the fifth film, Rocky V (1990). His portrayal in the first film earned him his second consecutive nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Meredith played an old Korean War veteran Captain J.G. Williams in The Last Chase with Lee Majors. He appeared in Ray Harryhausen’s last stop-motion feature Clash of the Titans (1981), in a supporting role. Meredith appeared in Santa Claus: The Movie (1985). In his last years, he played Jack Lemmon’s character’s sex-crazed 95-year-old father in Grumpy Old Men (1993) and its sequel, Grumpier Old Men (1995).

Meredith appeared in four different starring roles in the anthology TV series The Twilight Zone, tying him with Jack Klugman for the most appearances on the show in a starring role.

Meredith also played the Penguin in the television series Batman from 1966 to 1968, and in the 1966 film based on the TV series. His role as the Penguin was so well-received, the show’s writers always had a script featuring the Penguin ready whenever Meredith was available. He and Cesar Romero (the Joker) are tied for number of appearances on the show.

In 1994, Meredith published his autobiography, So Far, So Good. In the book he confessed that he suffered from violent mood swings caused by cyclothymia, a form of bipolar disorder.

Meredith was married four times. His first wife, Helen Derby Merrien Burgess, was the daughter of Harry L. Derby, president of the American Cyanamid and Chemical Corporation; she took her life after their divorce. His next two wives were actresses, Margaret Perry and Paulette Goddard. His last marriage, to Kaja Sundsten, lasted 46 years and produced two children—Jonathon (a musician) and Tala (a painter). Friend Adam West spoke briefly at his memorial service. His remains were cremated.