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Bruce Cabot

Bruce Cabot

Bruce Cabot was born Étienne Pelissier Jacques de Bujac on the 20th of April, 1904 in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

He studied at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee without graduating, and drifted from job to job before arriving in Hollywood in 1931 and making his uncredited screen debut in the same year’s Heroes of the Flames. A chance introduction to David O Selznick at a party served to launch his career proper; Selznick was at the time RKO’s central producer and therefore in charge of many key studio decisions, and the young actor received roles in Lady with a Past and The Roadhouse Murder (both 1932).

Bruce Cabot with Fay Wray in King Kong (RKO 1933)

Bruce Cabot with Fay Wray in King Kong (RKO 1933)

With his dashing good looks apparently marking him out for a future in leading-man roles, de Bujac – now performing as Bruce Cabot – was cast as morose sailor turned gallant hero Jack Driscoll in King Kong (1933). Saving Fay Wray from a fate worse than laryngitis, he impressed audiences and filmmakers alike, and soon became a safe bet not just for heroics, but for villainy as well, as shown in his performance as a lynch mob leader in Fritz Lang’s Fury (1936).

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He signed up for military service in 1942, working overseas in an intelligence role. During his service he was accused of playing a part in a large gold smuggling ring, although no charges were brought against him.

After World War II he returned to Hollywood, and as well as enjoying regular work, became a good friend of John Wayne, who had in 1939 beaten him to the lead role in Stagecoach. The friendship would later lead to Cabot being cast in ten of Wayne’s movies, including The Green Berets (1968). His final screen appearance came as corrupt casino manager Bert Saxby in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever; married three times, he died of throat and lung cancer on the 3rd of May, 1972, at the age of 68. He was buried in the town of his birth.

Classic Monsters of the Movies issue #9

Check out the feature on stop-motion horror movie animation in Classic Monsters of the Movies issue #9

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