Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lloyd Corrigan – What a Character!

This blog post is part of the What A Character! Blogathon hosted by Kellee at Outspoken & FreckledPaula at Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora at Once Upon a Screen 

One of the selling points of a great character actor is his ability to be cast in virtually any role, and have people leaving the theater remembering the performance, and not the actor.  It’s precisely why so many great character actors go nameless – you know their face, but their name will often slip your mind.  It’s the whole reason we see marathons of character actors given names like “That Guy!” Thursdays.

Lloyd Corrigan is very much an example of that situation. With 172 acting credits in both large screen and small on his IMDB resume, he’s not a name that the average film fan will know, but he’s certainly one they’ve seen.

Before his prolific acting career, Corrigan started as a writer and director for the silent films, including a female-centric version of the perennial Brewster’s Millions story, and a trilogy of Fu Manchu films, starring Werner Oland as The Demon Doctor. A short he wrote and directed, La Cucaracha, won the best comedy short subject for 1935.

As an actor, he jumped regularly between comedy – he appeared in a couple Bob Hope comedies like The Ghost Breakers and Son of Paleface, and a few of the Bowery Boys films– and drama, like the 1946 noir film The Chase, where he plays a business rival of the main character who meets a grisly death via a large dog in a locked wine cellar. He appeared in several of the Boston Blackie series of films in a recurring role of millionaire Arthur Manleder. He was in the Jose Ferrer version of Cyrano De Bergerac as Ragueneau the pastry chef.

Corrigan helps Ray Milland and
 Maureen O’Sullivan in The Big Clock
In the Noir classic The Big Clock, Lloyd plays a radio actor who comes to the aid of suspected murderer George Stroud (Ray Milland), who is also in charge of the investigation to find said murderer.  Corrigan takes on a number of roles to aid Stroud, including a false suspect, one “Jefferson Randolph”, an anxious witness happy to describe said suspect, and later in the film as a police inspector, with the hopes of keeping the real suspect under control.

In Whistling in the Dark, the first of the Red Skelton trilogy, Corrigan plays Harvey Upshaw, target of a wild murder plot.  He’s a harmless married man who’s intended to receive a sizable pile of cash from a maiden aunt, much to the consternation of Conrad Veidt, who was expecting the money to be bequeathed to his supernatural scam.  Skelton plays a radio detective who gets involved in the goings on and must use his radio show as a live attempt to contact Upshaw, who is on an airplane with a man who plans to kill him with poisoned tooth powder. Did I mention this was a comedy?

Holborn Gaines, relaxing in his dead
wife's housecoat in The Manchurian
In amongst all the comedies, Corrigan still made appearances in major dramas, including The Manchurian Candidate, where he played newspaper magnate Holborn Gaines, employer and friend of Medal of Honor winner and potent brainwashing subject Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey). Gaines becomes close with Shaw after discover they share an abiding hatred of Shaw’s father-in-law, Senator John Iselin (James Gregory) and his wife, Raymond’s mother (Angela Lansbury). Sadly, as a test of Shaw’s conditioning, he is instructed to kill Gaines.

Corrigan had quite the resume on
television as well - here he is on
an episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive
In addition to an appearance as the Mayor in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, one of Corrigan’s last regular roles was a one-season sitcom called Hank, about a hard-working young man who’s trying to make his way through college with a series of small jobs and a steady string of auditing classes.
Lloyd Corrigan’s appearances in films are often brief – as a character actor, his job is to further the story, not be the story. He deserves more recognition, in name as well as face, and we can but hope that pieces like this, we can help fix that problem.


  1. Lloyd Corrigan? Nothing simpler. He got shot by "Gat" Benson and ended up as The Spectre . . .

    No, wait. Wrong Corrigan.

    Okay, I got it. Lloyd Corrigan was in "Peyton Place", an episode of "The Outer Limits" and co-starred with Diahann Carroll . . .

    No, still wrong.

    Okay, I know Lloyd Corrigan from somewhere. Think think think . . .

    Yeah, that's right. He got killed by Laurence "A Dandy in Aspic" Harvey while lying in bed in "The Manchurian Candidate". A job of acting if ever there was one (especially wearing that outfit). I may also be the only one of you infants out there who remember Corrigan in "Hank" (which also featured the immortal Miss Katie Sweet). "He's up with the sun . . ."

    (Ah, Katie, we hardly knew ye.)

    Fortunately, Lloyd Corrigan managed to break out into much more memorable roles, such as the television series where he did a lot of SCUBA diving . . .

    No, wait, that was Lloyd Bridges.


    Uh . . . okay! Way to go, Lloyd Corrigan. Way to character act! Yay, Lloyd!

  2. Glad you liked it, and nice hearing from you!

  3. I used to remember Mr. Corrigan by referring to him as a "poor man's Charles Winninger". Can't you see him in some of the other's roles? I dropped that back-handed compliment once I became more familiar with his work. One of my faves is another radio actor role in the Roy & Dale flick "Lights of Old Santa Fe"; a nice, substantial part.

    1. Part of the allure of a character actor is that they remind you of other people. Thanks for popping by! :-)

  4. I almost focused on La Cucaracha as an entry for the Hispanic blogathon and would have known about Corrigan's writing talents. So impressed about that part of his career, which is the best thing about this blogathon. These actors are so much more than faces we may recognize. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Dorian! A terrific addition to What a Character!


    1. Thanks for your kind words - Happy Thanksgiving!

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  6. Thanks, my friends, and you and yours!

  7. So glad you focused on Lloyd Corrigan. He's another actor in this blogathon that I always recognize by sight, but never by name. I agree – he deserves much more recognition! :)

    1. Ruth, dear pal, I was happy to see you visited our little blog on the Prairie!

  8. I didn't realise Corrigan had been in quite so many films - what a varied career! I had no idea about his silent past either although it makes perfect sense, actors of Corrigan's calibre didn't just spring to life fully-formed!

    1. It's always interesting to see how much these actors have done, especially where in this case they started behind the camera!

  9. I am so enjoying the character actor blogathon. Yours is a favorite -- I love this guy. He popped up in The Ghost Breakers as a character who seemed menacing but really didn't have anything to do with the events. You see him in Whistling in the Dark, a favorite of mine. He's everywhere! Wonderful article about a beloved man, Dorian!

  10. I couldn't match the name with the face, but I do know him! Specially in The Big Clock, that is a great unsung noir. Llloyd's work on TV is also very impressive!