Clifton Webb - Rotten Tomatoes

Clifton Webb

Highest Rated:   100% The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Not Available
Clifton Webb was the most improbable of movie stars that one could imagine -- in an era in which leading men were supposed to be virile and bold, he was prissy and, well, downright fussy. Where the actors in starring roles were supposed to lead with their fists, or at least the suggestion of potential mayhem befalling those who got in the way of their characters, Webb used a sharp tongue and a waspish manner the way John Wayne wielded a six-gun and Clark Gable a smart mouth, a cocky grin, and great physique. And where male movie stars (except in the singing cowboy movies) were supposed to maintain a screen image that had women melting in their arms if not their presence, Webb hardly ever went near women in most of his screen roles, except in a fatherly or avuncular way. Nevertheles, the public devoured it all, even politely looking past Webb's well-publicized status as a "bachelor" who lived with his mother, and in the process turned him into one of Hollywood's most popular post-World War II movie stars, with a string of successful movies rivaling those of Wayne, Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, or any other leading man one cares to name. Indeed, Webb was for more than 15 years a mainstay of 20th Century Fox, his movies earning profits as reliably as the sun rising -- not bad for a man who was nearly rejected from his first film on the lot because the head of production couldn't abide his fey mannerisms. Clifton Webb was born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck, in Indianapolis, IN, in 1891 (his date of birth was falsified during his lifetime and pushed up by several years, and some sources list the real year as 1889). His father -- about whom almost nothing is known, except that he was a businessman -- had no interest in preparing his offspring for the stage or the life of a performer, a fact that so appalled his mother (a frustrated actress) that she packed herself and the boy off to New York, and he started dancing lessons at age three. By the time he was seven years old, he was good enough to attract the attention of Malcolm Douglas, the director of the Children's Theatre, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1900 (when he would have been either seven, nine, or 11), playing Cholly in The Brownies. Webb was taking lessons in all of the arts by then, and in 1911, made his operatic debut in La Bohème. It was as a dancer, though, that he first found his real fortune -- seen at a top New York nightspot, he so impressed one lady professional that she immediately proposed a partnership that resulted in an international career for Webb. Webb's acting wasn't neglected, either, and in the 1920s and '30s, he was regarded as one of the top stage talents in the country, a multiple-threat performer equally adept in musicals, comedies, or drama. Early in his career, he'd worked under a variety of names, finally transposing his first name to his last and reportedly taking the Clifton from the New Jersey town, because his mother liked the sound of it. Webb was a well-known figure on-stage, but his value as a film performer was considered marginal until he was well past 50 -- he'd done some film work during the silent era, but in the mid-'30s, he was brought out to Hollywood by MGM for a film project that ran into script problems. He spent a year out there collecting his contracted salary of 3,500 dollars a week and doing absolutely nothing, and hated every minute of it. Webb returned to New York determined never to experience such downtime again, and over the ensuing decade bounced back with hits in George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's The Man Who Came to Dinner and Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, doing the latter for three years. Ironically, the role of Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner was inspired by the real-life author/columnist Alexander Woollcott, who would also be the inspiration for the role that finally brought Webb to Hollywood successfully. In 1943, 20th Century Fox set out to adapt a novel by Vera Caspary entitled Laura to

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Cheaper by the Dozen
  • Frank Bunker Gilbreth
2003
No Score Yet Satan Never Sleeps
  • Father Bovard
1962
No Score Yet Boy on a Dolphin
  • Victor Parmalee
1957
100% The Man Who Never Was
  • Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu
1956
No Score Yet Woman's World
  • Gifford
1954
63% Three Coins in the Fountain
  • John Fredrick Shadwell
1954
89% Titanic
  • Richard Ward Sturges
1953
No Score Yet Mr. Scoutmaster
  • Robert Jordan
1953
No Score Yet Stars and Stripes Forever
  • John Philip Sousa
1952
No Score Yet Dreamboat
  • Thornton Sayre/Dreamboat/Bruce Blair
1952
No Score Yet Belles on Their Toes
  • Frank Gilbreth
1952
No Score Yet Sitting Pretty
  • Lynn Belvedere
1948
100% The Dark Corner
  • Hardy Cathcart
1946
83% The Razor's Edge
  • Elliott Templeton
1946
100% Laura
  • Waldo Lydecker
1944

Quotes from Clifton Webb's Characters