Ralph Rexford Bellamy

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Ralph Rexford Bellamy

Birthdate: (87)
Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA
Death: November 29, 1991 (87)
Santa Monica, CA, USA
Place of Burial: Los Angeles, California, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Rexford Bellamy and Lilla Louise Smith
Husband of Alice Murphy
Ex-husband of Alice Delbridge; Catherine Willard and Ethel Smith

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:

About Ralph Rexford Bellamy

Before Ralph Bellamy became an actor, he worked with 15 different traveling stock companies, not just as an actor but also as a director, producer, set designer, and prop handler. Bellamy eventually became a leading man of stage and screen. Early on in his career he became typecast as a rich but dull character who never got the girl. However, he worked hard to escape the typecasting and eventually succeeded, playing a number of different roles on film. He was highly regarded in the entertainment industry and was a founder of the Screen Actors Guild. For his contribution to the television industry, Ralph Bellamy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6542 Hollywood Boulevard.

He was born on June 17, 1904 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lilla Louise (née Smith), a native of Canada, and Charles Rexford Bellamy. He ran away from home when he was fifteen and managed to get into a road show. He toured with road shows before finally landing in New York. He began acting on stage there and by 1927 owned his own theatre company. In 1931, he made his film debut and worked constantly throughout the decade first as a lead then as a capable supporting actor. Bellamy was cast in the lead role in the 1936 film Straight from the Shoulder and also in the 1937 film It Can't Last Forever with Edward J. Pawley.

He received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Awful Truth (1937) with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, and played a similar part, that of a naive boyfriend competing with the sophisticated Grant character, in His Girl Friday (1940). He portrayed detective Ellery Queen in a few films during the 1940s, but as his film career did not progress, he returned to the stage, where he continued to perform throughout the fifties. Highly regarded within the industry, he was a founder of the Screen Actors Guild and served as President of Actors' Equity from 1952-1964.

Throughout the 1930s and '40's, Bellamy was regularly seen socially with a select circle of friends known affectionately as the Irish Mafia. This group consisted of a group of Hollywood A-listers who were mainly of Irish descent (despite Bellamy having no Irish family connections himself). Others included James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Spencer Tracy, Lynne Overman, Frank Morgan and Frank McHugh.

In 1949, Bellamy starred in the drama Man Against Crime on the DuMont Television Network; the program lasted until 1956, when the lead role was taken by Frank Lovejoy, who thereafter starred in NBC's Meet McGraw detective series. Bellamy was a regular panelist on the CBS television game show To Tell the Truth during its initial run. He also starred in the television detective series Follow That Man (aka "Man Against Crime"). Bellamy starred as Willard Mitchell, along with Patricia Breslin and Paul Fix, in the 1961 episode "The Haven" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. About this same time, he appeared too on the NBC anthology series, The Barbara Stanwyck Show.

During the 1963-1964 television season, Bellamy co-starred with Jack Ging in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour, in the role of a psychiatrist in private practice. Wendell Corey had appeared in the first season of the series.

He appeared on Broadway in one of his most famous roles, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello. He later starred in the 1960 film version. In the summer of 1961, Bellamy hosted nine original episodes of a CBS Western anthology series called Frontier Justice, a Dick Powell Four Star Television production.

On film, he also starred in the Western The Professionals (1966) as an oil tycoon, and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) as an evil physician, before turning to television during the 1970s. An Emmy Award nomination for the mini-series The Winds of War (1983) - in which Bellamy reprised his Sunrise at Campobello role of Franklin Roosevelt - brought him back into the spotlight. This was quickly followed by his role as Randolph Duke, a conniving billionaire commodities trader in Trading Places (1983), alongside Don Ameche.

In the 1988 Eddie Murphy film, Coming to America, Bellamy and co-star Don Ameche reprised a one-scene cameo of their roles as the Duke brothers. After Randolph and Mortimer Duke lost their enormous fortune at the end of Trading Places, in Coming to America, the brothers are shown homeless and living on the streets. Prince Akeem (Murphy) gives them a paper bag filled with money, which they gratefully accept, exclaiming, "We're back!"

In 1984, he was presented with a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and in 1987 received an Honorary Academy Award "for his unique artistry and his distinguished service to the profession of acting".

Among his later roles was a memorable appearance as a once-brilliant but increasingly forgetful lawyer sadly skewered by the Jimmy Smits character on an episode of L.A. Law.

He continued working regularly and gave his final performance in Pretty Woman (1990).


Bellamy was married 4 times, first to Alice Delbridge (1927–1930), then Catherine Willard (1931–1945). He was married to organist Ethel Smith from (1945 to 1947),and, finally, to Alice Murphy (1949–1991).

He opened the popular Palm Springs Racquet Club in Palm Springs, California with fellow actor Charles Farrell.

Bellamy died on November 29, 1991, at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, from a lung ailment. He was 87 years old. Bellamy was buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.



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Ralph Rexford Bellamy's Timeline

June 17, 1904
Chicago, IL, USA
November 29, 1991
Age 87
Santa Monica, CA, USA
Age 86
Los Angeles, California, USA