Gene Blakely is an incurable movie fan whose hobby of
collecting stills--which began almost the day he was born
in Osceola, Iowa--has brought added fame to the
handsome stage and television performer. His
collection--the largest personal one in the United
States--numbers more than 8000 and spans the history
of motion pictures from the silent era to Marilyn Monroe
and Cinemascope. His career on Broadway is in striking
contrast to his boyhood days as a rancher in Northa
Dakota where his family now lives. Back in 1927 when he
was five years old, a visit to an aunt and uncle in
Waukegan, Illinois, proved to be a turning point in his life.
A stock company needed just such a youngster for one
of their plays and Gene got the part. He says he was
stage struck from that day on and all the while he was
riding the range on his parents' ranch knew that one day
he would be riding the Broadway bus instead. When he
finished his junior year at the University of
Wisconsin--where, incidentally, his first drama instructor
was Rusty Lane, now a fellow player in "The Desperate
Hours"--his parents granted him permission to leave the
University and come to New York to enroll at the
American Academy. He by-passed the Academy,
however, for a job at Christopher Morley's stock
company in Atlantic City. He made his Broadway bow with
the late Charles Butterworth in "Brighten the Corner,"
following tours in "The Eve of St. Mark," "Janie" and
"Over 21." Since then he has played in "John Loves
Mary," "Red Gloves" with Charles Boyer, "The Traitor"
and "The Male Animal" with Elliott Nugent. He has
appeared on more than 100 shows such as "Robert
Montgomery Presents," "Studio One," etc.