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James GregoryJAMES GREGORY

New York born James Gregory gave up a career as a stockbroker for one as an actor. Born in the Bronx December 23, 1911, Gregory grew up in suburban New Rochelle. His ability and enthusiasm were recognized as early as high school where he was elected president of the Drama Club and captain of the golf team. Always independent and ambitious, Gregory went to work on Wall Street as a runner shortly after the 1929 stock market crash. Over a five year period he was promoted to clerk, then private secretary.

Interested in theatre, Gregory worked in local drama groups in Westchester County and progressed to pro status as a Summer stock player in 1935. He performed in plays throughout New York, Maryland and New Jersey and traveled with a troupe through small towns in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, earning all of $25 for a week of one-night stands. In 1939 Gregory made his Broadway debut in a production of “Key Largo” with Paul Muni. Over the next several years he performed in approximately 25 Broadway productions, taking time out to serve with the Navy and Marines during WWII, including 83 days on Okinawa. In 1944 he married Ann Miltner who sang occasionally as a member of The Chordettes.

Gregory’s first film work is an uncredited bit in “The Naked City” (‘48). Still performing on stage, by 1950 Gregory also began to work in early live and filmed television. In 1955 Gregory starred on CBS radio’s “21st Precinct” as Capt. Frank Kennelly. However, it wasn’t until 1957 that Gregory made his first Western, “Gun Glory”. From ‘59-‘60 he starred on TV as Lt. Barney Ruditsky for 27 episodes of “The Lawless Years”, set in the halcyon years of prohibition in New York City. A dedicated and thoroughly professional actor, Gregory was always in demand and never at a loss for work until he retired in the mid-‘80s after a seven year regular stint as loveable but exasperating Inspector Frank Luger on the “Barney Miller” sitcom.

Besides a murderous role as Morgan Hastings in John Wayne’s “Sons of Katie Elder” (‘65), his western roles were primarily confined to TV—“Wagon Train”, “Frontier Circus”, “Laramie”, “Wild Wild West” (as President Grant), “Rawhide”, “Man Called Shenandoah”, “The Loner”, “Cimarron Strip”, “Gunsmoke”, “High Chaparral”, “Outcasts”, “Lancer”, “Bonanza”, “Big Valley”, “Virginian” and others.

The always captivating Gregory never gave a bad performance in over 200 movie and TV roles. When asked to define his work he simply said, “I am an actor.”

Gregory died September 16, 2002, in Sedona, AZ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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