- Nov 17, 1926
- Trenton, New Jersey, USA
American actor Robert Brown -- not to be confused with the British actor of the same name whose credits include the James Bond movie The Living Daylights -- was born in Trenton, NJ, in 1926 (some sources say 1927), of Welsh and Scottish descent. He studied drama at the New School Dramatic Workshop, where his fellow students included Walter Matthau, Rod… More Bio:
American actor Robert Brown -- not to be confused with the British actor of the same name whose credits include the James Bond movie The Living Daylights -- was born in Trenton, NJ, in 1926 (some sources say 1927), of Welsh and Scottish descent. He studied drama at the New School Dramatic Workshop, where his fellow students included Walter Matthau, Rod Steiger, future director Gene Saks, and actor-singer Harry Belafonte. Brown was principally a theater actor for the first two decades of his career, making his Broadway debut 1948 in Skipper Next to God, directed by Lee Strasberg and starring John Garfield. His other Broadway credits included Maxwell Anderson's Barefoot in Athens (1951) and Christopher Fry's The Dark Is Light Enough, the latter starring Katharine Cornell.
Brown's tall, rangy good looks should have made him a natural for movies, but as a New York-based actor, his big-screen credits were minimal. He played a small role in the Benedict Bogeaus-produced Appointment in Honduras (1953), directed by Jacques Tourneur, and a much larger part, as the dissolute (but ultimately self-sacrificing) brother to Arthur Franz in The Flame Barrier (1958). Brown appeared in various dramatic anthology shows, and in episodes of series such as Perry Mason, and was somewhat busier in movies in the 1960s. His most prominent acting job, however, was in an episode of Star Trek, in a role that came to him accidentally. John Drew Barrymore was supposed to be the featured guest star in "The Alternative Factor," a 1967 episode, in a difficult dual role, but he never reported for filming, and Brown was cast in the part of the mysterious alien Lazarus at the last possible moment. He never had a chance to absorb the script the way he might have, in what was a difficult acting job. Despite the fact that he and the rest of the cast were rushed through his scenes, Brown managed to bring a good deal of humanity and complexity to his portrayals of the two roles. Ironically, thanks to the enduring popularity of the series, this has probably been Brown's most widely seen television appearance.
In 1968, Brown won the leading role in an unusual nonviolent Western called Here Come the Brides. The series' roots lay in an unproduced film project that was to have starred Burt Lancaster, and Brown's portrayal of Jason Bolt evoked images of Lancaster (and also Errol Flynn) at their most charismatic. Brides only lasted two seasons, but Brown was sufficiently well-established to get the lead in another very different series, Primus, about a marine biologist. Following the cancellation of that series, Brown appeared intermittently on television into the 1980s.
Beefy British character actor Robert Brown should not be confused with the actor of the same name who starred in TV's Here Come the Brides (1968-1969), nor with film editor Robert N. "Toby" Brown. In films from 1955's Helen of Troy, Brown specialized in roughneck costume roles, such as the Chief of Rowers in Ben-Hur (1959) and Talbot in Billy Budd (1962). In the 1957 Roger Moore TV series Ivanhoe, Brown was appropriately cast as Gurth. After playing Admiral Hargreaves in the 1977 James Bond entry The Spy Who Loved Me, Robert Brown succeeded Bernard Lee as Bond's immediate superior "M", essaying the role for the first time in Octopussy (1983) and for the last time in A View to a Kill (1989).
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