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Lew Ayres's Geni Profile

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Lewis "Lew" Frederick Ayres, III

Birthplace: Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Death: Died in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Cause of death: Complications from a coma
Immediate Family:

Son of Lewis Frederick Ayres and Irma Dora Bevernick
Ex-husband of Ginger Rogers; Lola Lane and Diana Hall
Father of <private> Ayres

Occupation: American actor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Lew Ayres

After appearing opposite Greta Garbo in The Kiss (1929), Lew Ayres starred in the Academy Award- winning film All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) for which he rose to fame. However, he is best remembered for his title role in the Dr. Kildare movie series from 1938 to 1942. For his contribution to motion pictures and radio, Ayres received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Born Lewis Frederick Ayres III on December 28, 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and reared in San Diego, California, Ayres began acting in bit player roles in films in 1927. He was discovered in 1927 playing banjo in the Henry Halstead Orchestra as Halstead was recording one of the earliest Vitaphone movie shorts called Carnival Night in Paris (Warner Brothers, 1927). Ayres wrote, "I was a member of Henry Halstead's orchestra in 1927 at the Mission Beach Ballroom in San Diego, California for the summer. My instruments were tenor banjo, long-neck banjo and guitar. After a hiatus, I rejoined Mr. Halstead with a new group, including Phil Harris, on New Year's Eve the same year for the opening night of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a memorable occasion."

Ayres played opposite Greta Garbo in 1929's The Kiss, but it was his starring role in 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front which made him a star. Ayres was Janet Gaynor's leading man in Servants' Entrance (1934), which featured a combination of live action and Walt Disney animation in a musical dream sequence. He played the title role in Young Dr. Kildare in 1938 and became a matinee idol, starring in several Kildare films. During this time, Ayres also co-starred with Joan Crawford and James Stewart in The Ice Follies of 1939.

Mirroring his anti-war and medical roles in his film work, Ayres was a pacifist who sought to become a member of the Medical Corps during World War II. The United States armed forces, however, would not guarantee him that position, so he declared himself a conscientious objector, and reported to a CPS camp. But having such a well-known public figure take this stance was poor publicity for the United States armed forces. It led to revisions of the rules, at which point Ayres was then able to join the Medical Corps. He so served with distinction in the Pacific theater and in New Guinea.

Ayres made few films after the war, but in 1948 his role in Johnny Belinda earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Co-star Jane Wyman fell in love with Ayres and left her husband Ronald Reagan for him, albeit unsuccessfully.

In the summer of 1958, Ayers hosted eleven original episodes of a CBS Western anthology television series called Frontier Justice, a production of Dick Powell's Four Star Television. He was offered the part of Dr. Kildare in an NBC series. But his request, now considered prescient, that the show have no cigarette advertising led to the offer being withdrawn, and the part went, in 1961, to Richard Chamberlain.

He played the role of the governor in the pilot episode of the TV CBS series, Hawaii Five-O. He chose not to move to Hawaii to do the series, but did appear in the show in other roles from time to time. He also had many guest roles in other television programs.

His 1976 documentary film Altars of the World brought his Eastern philosophical beliefs to the screen and earned him critical acclaim. Ayres' science-fiction roles included appearances in the second season of The Bionic Woman as a pacifist scientist, Dr. Elijah Cooper, in the 1977 two-part episode "Doomsday Is Tomorrow," and as Adar, the pacifist President of the Council of the Twelve, in the original Battlestar Galactica film in 1978. In 1974, he had appeared in a small role as Dr. Emil Vaslovik, creator of the title android, in The Questor Tapes, written for television by Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon and directed by Richard A. Colla, who, almost four years later, again directed him in Battlestar Galactica: "Saga of a Star World".

Ayres' played a Vice-President of the United States twice, in Advise and Consent and The Man, as well as the President of the United States in the made-for-TV Earth II.

Late in life, he appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the father of the Murray Slaughter character played by Gavin MacLeod. The episode involved a May–November romance between Mary and Murray's father.

His last role was on the made for TV-film, "Hart to Hart: Crimes of the Heart" (1994).

Ayres was married three times.

  1. Lola Lane (actress) from 1931 until 1933
  2. Ginger Rogers (actress) from 1934 until 1940
  3. Diana Hall from 1964 until his death. They had one son, Justin, born in 1968.


Lew Ayres was an American actor, best known for starring as Paul in All Quiet on the Western Front and for playing Dr. Kildare in nine movies. Wikipedia

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Lew Ayres's Timeline

December 28, 1908
Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
December 30, 1996
Age 88
Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States