George Zucco (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

In his wallet George Zucco still carries a return steamship ticket to his native England. He was brought to New York to play Disraeli in “Victoria Regina” with Helen Hayes, came to California for a vacation, got an opportunity to play in pictures, and has been in Hollywood ever since.

He was born in Manchester, England, on January 11, the son of George Zucco, Sr., and Marion Zucco. His father, who was an importer, died when George was a baby. Mrs. Zucco moved to a suburb of London and opened a dressmaking shop.

He completed his education at Kent, receiving honors in mathematics and playing on the cricket and soccer teams.

Goes to Canada

Looking for new horizons and a new environment, he left England and went to Manitoba, Canada, to work on a large wheat farm, rising before dawn and working until after sunset for $18 a month and board . The work was hard and the pay small, but he preferred the open spaces to the desks and offices of London.

That preference lasted only a short time and soon, yearning to be back in a city, he came to Winnipeg and obtained a job as clerk in the grain exchange.

He appeared in a number of plays presented by his club, usually in leading roles. Gradually his love of stage work deepened, and when a stock company came to Winnipeg for an engagement he applied for a job, got it, and toured to the west coast.

In Stock

In Seattle he joined another company, playing the leading role in a Rex Beach play, “The Barrier.” He toured coast cities in that show, traveling as far north as Alaska. On returning to Winnipeg he became acquainted with a showman who persuaded Zucco to go to New York. He joined a company that was going to open the season in Reading, Pa.

When the troupe was playing in Utica, N. Y., the World War was declared, Zucco went to New York and sailed for England on the first available ship. On arrival he enlisted, was commissioned as a lieutenant, and sent to France.

Back to Theatre

When the war was over, Zucco went to London and enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He remained for one term and then began a series of engagements at such famous theatres as the Haymarket and Strand.

Between stage productions he played in moving pictures made in England, such as “Dreyfus,” “The Midshipman” and “Autumn Crocus.” Among his many successes on the London stage were a leading role in “The Family Royal,” produced by Noel Coward, and the part of Lieutenant Osborne in “Journey’s End.” He names that as his favorite role, having played it in 500 performances. Despite the unanimous high praise by all of London’s dramatic reviewers his mother, still his severest critic, after seeing the show said: “George, you know I still think you would have made a very successful farmer out there in Canada.”

His favorite role in pictures has been his characterization of the psychiatrist with the thick-lensed glasses in “After the Thin Man.” Other pictures in which he has appeared are Parnell, “Conquest,” “The Firefly,” Saratoga, “London by Night,” The Bride Wore Red“Madame X,” and Rosalie.

Five feet, eleven and one-half inches tall, Zucco weighs 165 pounds, has gray hair and dark brown eyes.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937