One of his most memorable roles was as Lt. Thomas Doyle in Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
I Walk Alone
Man-Eater of Kumaon
Any Number Can Play
The File on Thelma Jordon
No Sad Songs for Me
The Great Missouri Raid
Rich, Young and Pretty
The Wild Blue Yonder
The Wild North
My Man and I
Hell’s Half Acre
The Big Knife
The Killer Is Loose
The Bold and the Brave
The Light in the Forest
Alias Jesse James
Blood on the Arrow
Agent for H.A.R.M.
Women of the Prehistoric Planet
Picture Mommy Dead
The Star Maker
Wendell Corey was never nominated for an Academy Award.
Wendell Reid Corey was born March 20, 1914, in Dracut, Massachusetts, the son of Milton Rothwell Corey (October 24, 1879 – October 23, 1951) and Julia Etta McKenney (April 11, 1882 – June 16, 1947). His father was a Congregationalist clergyman. Wendell was educated in Springfield.
Before becoming an actor, Corey was a washing-machine salesman in a department store.
Corey “began acting in 1938 with the depression-spawned Federal Theatre Project”. His Broadway debut was in Comes the Revelation (1942), which had a short run.
He followed it with the mildly popular Strip for Action (1942-43) by Lindsay and Crouse; The First Million (1943); Manhattan Nocturne (1943) directed by Stella Adler; Jackpot (1944); But Not Goodbye (1944) by George Seaton; and The Wind is Ninety with Kirk Douglas.
Most of these had short runs. Corey had his first hit as a cynical newspaperman in Elmer Rice’s comedy Dream Girl (1945).
While appearing in the play, Corey was seen by producer Hal Wallis, who persuaded him to sign a contract with Paramount and pursue a motion picture career in Hollywood.
His movie debut came as a gangster in Wallis’ Desert Fury (1947) starring Burt Lancaster, John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, and Mary Astor. In 1947 he appeared in The Voice of the Turtle on stage with Margaret Sullavan in England.
His second film was another for Wallis with Lancaster and Scott, I Walk Alone (1948). Both movies were popular.
Corey was borrowed by MGM to appear in The Search (1948) alongside Montgomery Clift for director Fred Zinnemann. Byron Haskin, who had directed Corey in I Walk Alone, used him in Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948) at Universal; he was second billed to Sabu.
MGM borrowed Corey for a popular romantic comedy Any Number Can Play (1949), supporting Clark Gable and Alexis Smith. Less popular was Holiday Affair (1949) at RKO where Corey was billed after Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. The movie has gain popularity in recent years.
Wallis promoted him to co-star status in The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) where he appeared opposite Barbara Stanwyck. Corey had a good part in Columbia’s No Sad Songs for Me (1950) playing Margaret Sullavan‘s husband. Wallis re-teamed him with Stanwyck in a Western, The Furies (1950), best remembered as Walter Huston’s final film. Corey appeared opposite another strong female star, Joan Crawford, in Harriet Craig (1950) at Columbia.
Corey was top billed in Paramount’s Western The Great Missouri Raid (1951), playing Frank James.
At MGM he played Jane Powell’s father in a musical Rich, Young and Pretty (1951). He went to Republic Pictures where he was top billed in a war film The Wild Blue Yonder (1951).
He took time off to appear on stage in England in The Voice of the Turtle and toured on stage on the Coast in Sabrina Fair.
Back at MGM Corey co-starred with Stewart Granger in The Wild North (1952), a popular adventure movie; he supported James Stewart in Carbine Williams (1952) a biopic and had a support role in My Man and I (1952).
Wallis sold Corey’s contract to Paramount in 1952. Corey supported Ray Milland in Jamaica Run (1952) for Paramount. He went to England to appear in The Voice of the Turtle on stage. While there he appeared in Laughing Anne (1953) with Margaret Lockwood. Back in the US he was in Hell’s Half Acre (1954) for Republic.
Corey had one of his most memorable roles when he played Lt. Thomas Doyle in Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. He toured the US on stage in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial in 1954.
He appeared in The Big Knife (1955) starring Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, and Shelley Winters; The Killer Is Loose (1956), playing a criminal after Joseph Cotten; The Bold and the Brave (1956) with Mickey Rooney at RKO; The Rack (1956), a Korean War drama at MGM, where Corey was billed after Paul Newman.
Corey returned to Broadway for The Night of the Auk (1956) by Arch Oboler directed by Sidney Lumet, but it had a short run.
Corey starred with Casey Walters in the television series Harbor Command (1957–1958). For Disney he was in the film The Light in the Forest (1958). Then he played Jesse James in the Bob Hope comedy Alias Jesse James (1959) and had a short Broadway run in Jolly’s Progress (1959) with Eartha Kitt.
Corey co-starred on The Nanette Fabray Show (1961) and had the lead role in the medical drama The Eleventh Hour (1962–1964). In The Nanette Fabray Show, Corey played a widower who married Fabray’s character. Bobby Diamond also starred in the short-lived series. In The Eleventh Hour, Corey appeared as Dr. Theodore Bassett, co-starring with Jack Ging in the role of psychologist Paul Graham. In the second season of The Eleventh Hour, however, Corey was replaced by Ralph Bellamy, who assumed the role of psychiatrist Richard Starke.
Corey made guest appearances on a number of programs, including Target: The Corruptors!, Channing, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, Burke’s Law, The Road West, and The Wild Wild West. He made a guest appearance during the final season of Perry Mason in 1966 as murder victim Jerome Klee in “The Case of the Unwelcome Well.”
His final films included Blood on the Arrow (1964),a Western; Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966), a spy film; Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), a science fiction film in which Corey was top billed; Waco (1966) and Red Tomahawk (1966), two Westerns with Howard Keel; Cyborg 2087 (1966), more science fiction; Picture Mommy Dead (1966) a horror movie with Don Ameche; Buckskin (1968), a Western. His last film appearance was in Ted V. Mikels’ The Astro-Zombies (1968).
Corey served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1961 to 1963 and was a member of the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild. A Republican campaigner in national politics since 1956, Corey was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in April 1965. The conservative politician ran for a California seat in the United States Congress in 1966, but lost the primary election. He was still a councilman at the time of his death.
Corey and Alice Wiley married in 1939 and they had one son and three daughters, Jonathan, Jennifer, Bonnie Alice, and Robin.
Corey died November 8, 1968, at age 54 at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, of cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism. Funeral services were held at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, California. He is interred in Washington Cemetery in Washington, Massachusetts.