Elisha Cook Jr.

Elisha Cook Jr.

Highest Rated: 100% Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

Lowest Rated: 25% The Black Bird (1975)

Birthday: Dec 26, 1903

Birthplace: San Francisco, California, USA

American actor Elisha Cook Jr. was the son of an influential theatrical actor/writer/producer who died early in the 20th Century. The younger Cook was in vaudeville and stock by the time he was fourteen-years old. In 1928, Cook enjoyed critical praise for his performance in the play Her Unborn Child, a performance he would repeat for his film debut in the 1930 film version of the play. The first ten years of Cook's Hollywood career found the slight, baby-faced actor playing innumerable college intellectuals and hapless freshmen (he's given plenty of screen time in 1936's Pigskin Parade). In 1940, Cook was cast as a man wrongly convicted of murder in Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), and so was launched the second phase of Cook's career as Helpless Victim. The actor's ability to play beyond this stereotype was first tapped by director John Huston, who cast Cook as Wilmer, the hair-trigger homicidal "gunsel" of Sidney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon (1941). So far down on the Hollywood totem pole that he wasn't billed in the Falcon opening credits, Cook suddenly found his services much in demand. Sometimes he'd be shot full of holes (as in the closing gag of 1941's Hellzapoppin'), sometimes he'd fall victim to some other grisly demise (poison in The Big Sleep [1946]), and sometimes he'd be the squirrelly little guy who turned out to be the last-reel murderer (I Wake Up Screaming [1941]; The Falcon's Alibi [1946]). At no time, however, was Cook ever again required to play the antiseptic "nerd" characters that had been his lot in the 1930s. Seemingly born to play "film noir" characters, Cook had one of his best extended moments in Phantom Lady (1944), wherein he plays a set of drums with ever-increasing orgiastic fervor. Another career high point was his death scene in Shane (1953); Cook is shot down by hired gun Jack Palance and plummets to the ground like a dead rabbit. A near-hermit in real life who lived in a remote mountain home and had to receive his studio calls by courier, Cook nonetheless never wanted for work, even late in life. Fans of the 1980s series Magnum PI will remember Cook in a recurring role as a the snarling elderly mobster Ice Pick. Having appeared in so many "cult" films, Elisha Cook Jr. has always been one of the most eagerly sought out interview subjects by film historians.

Highest Rated Movies



29% The Trial Actor 1993
75% Hammett Eli, the Taxi Driver 1982
No Score Yet Leave 'em Laughing Actor 1981
No Score Yet Harry's War Sgt. Billy 1981
50% Carny On-Your-Mark 1980
83% Tom Horn Stable Hand 1980
42% 1941 Patron 1979
36% The Champ Georgie 1979
44% St. Ives Eddie the Bell Boy 1976
25% The Black Bird Wilmer 1975
No Score Yet Winterhawk Finley 1975
No Score Yet The Outfit Carl 1974
60% Electra Glide in Blue Willie 1973
86% Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Cody 1973
No Score Yet Messiah of Evil Charlie 1973
63% Emperor of the North Pole (Emperor of the North) Gray Cat 1973
50% Blacula Sam 1972
73% The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid Bunker 1972
No Score Yet Scarecrow Actor 1972
86% The Night Stalker Mickey Crawford 1971
No Score Yet El Condor Old Convict 1970
96% Rosemary's Baby Mr. Nicklas 1968
No Score Yet Welcome to Hard Times (Killer on a Horse) Hanson 1967
40% Johnny Cool Undertaker 1963
75% The Haunted Palace Peter Smith 1963
No Score Yet Black Zoo Joe 1963
No Score Yet Papa's Delicate Condition Mr. Keith 1963
56% One-Eyed Jacks Bank Teller 1961
No Score Yet Platinum High School Harry Nesbitt 1960
No Score Yet Day of the Outlaw Larry 1959
88% House On Haunted Hill Watson Pritchard 1959
No Score Yet Plunder Road Skeets Jonas 1957
No Score Yet The Lonely Man Willie 1957
No Score Yet Chicago Confidential Candymouth Duggan 1957
No Score Yet Voodoo Island Martin Schuyler 1957
No Score Yet Baby Face Nelson Van Meter 1957
98% The Killing George Peatty 1956
No Score Yet Accused of Murder Whitey Pollock 1956
No Score Yet The Indian Fighter Briggs 1955
No Score Yet Trial Finn 1955
No Score Yet Drum Beat Crackel 1955
No Score Yet Timberjack Punky 1955
No Score Yet Thunder Over the Plains Standish 1953
No Score Yet I, the Jury Bobo 1953
97% Shane Torrey 1953
100% Don't Bother to Knock Eddie 1952
No Score Yet Behave Yourself Jonas 1951
33% The Great Gatsby Klipspringer 1949
No Score Yet Flaxy Martin Roper 1949
No Score Yet The Gangster Oval 1947
83% Born to Kill Marty 'Mart' Waterman 1947
No Score Yet The Long Night Frank 1947
No Score Yet Fall Guy Joe 1947
97% The Big Sleep Jones 1946
No Score Yet The Falcon's Alibi Nick 1946
No Score Yet Joe Palooka, Champ Eugene 1946
No Score Yet Why Girls Leave Home Jimmie Lobo 1945
No Score Yet Dillinger Kirk 1945
80% Up in Arms Info Jones 1944
No Score Yet Dark Waters Cleeve 1944
100% Phantom Lady Cliff March 1944
No Score Yet Nostalgia World War II Video Library, Vol. 7 Actor 1944
No Score Yet Dark Mountain Whitey 1944
No Score Yet Wildcat Harold 'Chicopee' Nevins 1942
No Score Yet A-Haunting We Will Go Frank Lucas 1942
86% I Wake Up Screaming Harry Williams 1941
100% The Maltese Falcon Wilmer Cook 1941
86% Sergeant York Piano Player 1941
100% Love Crazy Elevator Boy 1941
No Score Yet Hellzapoppin' Assistant Director 1941
100% Ball of Fire Waiter 1941
No Score Yet Tin Pan Alley Joe Cadd 1940
86% Stranger on the Third Floor Joe Briggs 1940
No Score Yet He Married His Wife Dicky Brown 1940
No Score Yet Submarine Patrol `Professor' Pratt 1938
No Score Yet My Lucky Star Waldo 1938
No Score Yet Three Blind Mice Boy 1938
No Score Yet They Won't Forget Joe Turner 1937
No Score Yet Love Is News Egbert Eggleston 1937
No Score Yet Life Begins in College Ollie Stearns 1937
No Score Yet Wife, Doctor and Nurse Glen Wylie 1937
No Score Yet Pigskin Parade Herbert Terwilliger Van Dyck 1936


No Score Yet The Twilight Zone
Weldon 1986
No Score Yet The A-Team
Jim Beam 1986
No Score Yet Quincy, M.E.
Henry Davis 1977
No Score Yet The Bionic Woman
Inky 1977
No Score Yet The Odd Couple
Eliot Ness 1974
No Score Yet Bonanza
Marcus Walker 1970
93% Batman
Isaacson 1967
80% Star Trek
Cogley 1967
No Score Yet The Wild Wild West
McGreavy McCoy 1966
No Score Yet Gunsmoke
Jocko Farmer 1965
No Score Yet Rawhide
Bain Jim 1964


George Peatty says: None of these men are criminals in the usual sense. They've all got jobs, they all live seemingly normal, decent lives, but they got their problems and they've all got a little larceny in 'em.

George Peatty says: I gotta go out. I don't suppose there's anything for dinner?

Sherry Peatty says: Of course there is. There are all sorts of things. Well, steak and asparagus and potatoes

George Peatty says: I don't smell nothin'

Sherry Peatty says: That figures. You're too far away from it.

George Peatty says: Too far away?

Sherry Peatty says: Certainly. You don't think I had it cooked, do you? It's down the shopping centre

Wilmer Cook says: Keep on riding me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver.

Sam Spade says: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.