Regis Toomey — Nine-O'Clock Guy (1932) 🇺🇸

Regis Toomey — Nine-O'Clock Guy (1932) |

May 24, 2023

The Regis Toomey routine would not disturb the peace and quiet of even Sauk Center.

by Samuel Richard Mook

There are three actors in Hollywood who are the despair of all interviewers. Regis Toomey is one. Fredric March is another, and Chester Morris is the third. The despair is occasioned by the fact that all three are well-educated, refined gentlemen. They live exactly the same sort of lives you, or your brother, or sweetheart live, and nothing exciting ever happens to them.

They don't go around with the so-called smart set, they don't put on a show for an interviewer, and they don't squander their money in a manner calculated to attract attention.

Their homes are well run, their amusements simple, and their general routine of living the kind that might inspire envy in the breast of any well-to-do American in any American city — but not the kind that provides material for the tabloids.

Assigned to write a story about Regis, I went forlornly to his wife and asked her to jot down a few notes that might form the nucleus of a story. A few days later she handed me the following:

Regis doesn't like to dance.
He doesn't like toy Pekes,
He often goes to bed at nine
For weeks — and weeks — and weeks.
He likes his breakfast all alone
With the paper, and time to read it.
He loves to take his dog out walking,
But prefers to have me feed it.
When he makes up his mind it's final —
Not stubborn, but firm as a house.
He's moody and quiet and thoughtful —
But I've never known him to grouse.
He works with a will — and likes it —
And he always remembers to call
If he's going to be late for dinner.
Or won't be home at all.
He takes hours to don a Tuxedo,
And hates to ride in a plane,
Though he likes long drives in the country.
And can even sleep on a train.
Of course, he has some bad habits.
But they're small ones I don't like to tell —
He's so nice about all the big ones
I don't wonder at all that I fell.


That sums up Regis as well as a volume could.

A person knowing him, and not knowing his work, would never suspect Regis of being an actor. Yet it was that urge for expression that took him out of the field of business, where you would naturally expect to find him, and put him on the stage.

Working in the office of one of the steel companies in Pittsburgh — his home — he was not a huge success. One of the executives, a friend of his family, knowing Regis's association with the Cap and Gown Club while at the University of Pittsburgh, called him into the office one day.

"The whole trouble with you is, you've still got that theatrical bug in your bonnet," Regis was told. "Go to New York and see what you can do on the stage. If you make good, O. K. If you don't, come back and then you can settle down to business."

Regis went to New York, then to London, then on the road with various musical comedies, and finally into pictures. Curiously enough, it was an intensely dramatic part in "Alibi," in which Chester Morris also appeared, that got him his contract. Although he has an excellent baritone voice, he has never sung on the screen.

He has never built a home nor even tried to pick up one of Hollywood's famous show places at a foreclosure sale. "Fools build houses for wise men to live in" is a literally true adage, Regis believes.

"Most of the people in Hollywood are living in homes that would take the income from a half-million or million-dollar estate to keep up. When I build or buy, I want to know that I'm going to be able to keep the house after I get it.

"Most actors who buy or build are using their entire incomes to pay for their homes. I'm trying to build up an estate to give me sufficient income to live on when I'm through in pictures.

"Some day, of course, I want a home of my own. I'd like it out in the country a little way, with plenty of ground. I'm not particularly concerned about the house, except that I want it to be rambling, but not too large. But I want a tennis court, swimming pool, gardens, stables, and maybe a little place where I can practice putting and chip shots."

He doesn't ride horseback, but wants a stable. "When I get time I'll learn to ride. And I want to get hold of a horse that would be a sort of companion, like a dog."

I've never seen any one as crazy about animals as Regis is — dogs particularly. Once when he was visiting Paul and Daisy Lukas, he was petting Paul's police dog. Suddenly the animal sprang at him and bit him in the face. Regis was terrified. Not on account of the bite, but because something he loved had turned on him. He was afraid something had happened and dogs wouldn't trust him any more.

He has known poverty, and for that reason he knows the value of money. He's one of the most generous chaps I've ever known, yet before he spends a dollar on himself he turns it over a couple of times and figures out whether he will get a dollar's worth of value from whatever it is he intends buying.

He rarely takes a drink, saying he doesn't get any "lift" from it, and under the circumstances it would be foolish for him to "down the stuff." But there's always a drink on hand for any of his friends who drop in and want it.

He doesn't gamble, because, he says, he can't afford it. He won't play cards, for it's no fun playing unless you play for money, and he won't do that.

There are few actors in Hollywood as well posted on current events and the stock market as he. Yet he owns very few stocks. Most of his money goes into tax-free Liberty Bonds.

He doesn't care a great deal about going to parties, but likes to give them. He's as hospitable as any one you'll meet in a day's march, and almost any night the Toomeys are home, you'll find a few friends who've dropped in to spend the evening.

He's a sentimental Irishman and at heart. I think, still eighteen. Coming out of Levy's Tavern late one night last summer, lie glanced up at the full moon and turned to his wife and me.

"Next time there's a full moon we ought to plan something. I get romantic when there's a full moon," he admitted shamefacedly.

His favorite sport is golf, but he also likes tennis. When it's too dark or too inclement for either of these, he'll spend hours at a ping-pong table.

Probably his outstanding characteristics are loyalty and patience. He has more of both than is good for a man to have.

He may not be the most brilliant person who ever trod the earth, nor the most amusing, but he's got practically all the homely virtues there are, and in Hollywood, where it's very much every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, it's a relief and a blessing to know a man like that.

I wouldn't trade Regis Toomey and his friendship for any six of the average run of actors I know. And most of the people who know him feel the same way.

Of course Regis has some bad habits, his wife admits, but they're little things she won't tell.

Regis Toomey — Nine-O'Clock Guy (1932) |

Though Regis Toomey seldom appears in the magazines, he never fails to come through with a competent and satisfying performance on the screen. Why little is written about him is sympathetically explained by Samuel Richard Mook on the opposite page.

Photo by: Otto Dyar (1892–1988)

Collection: Picture Play MagazineApril 1932