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Robert Preston

( b. Jun 08, 1918 Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, USA - d. Mar 21, 1987 Montecito, California, USA ) Male
Also known as: Robert Preston Meservey

Mr. Preston was an American actor best known for his portrayal of a brassy, breezy, fast-talking and warmhearted confidence man from Gary, Ind., Prof. Harold Hill, in The Music Man.

In a career that spanned nearly half a century, Mr. Preston appeared in a wide variety of plays and films. Mr. Preston's stage credits included leading roles in Twentieth Century, The Male Animal The Tender Trap, Janus, The Hidden River, Ben Franklin in Paris and The Lion in Winter. He also appeared in Shakespeare's Henry IV in the mid-1960's.

But it was his vibrant realization of the title role in The Music Man, an extraordinarily successful musical comedy by Meredith Willson, that won Mr. Preston lasting fame. Brooks Atkinson, then the drama critic for The New York Times, called The Music Man ''marvelous'' and added, ''If Mark Twain could have collaborated with Vachel Lindsay, they might have devised a rhythmic lark like The Music Man, which is as American as apple pie and a Fourth of July celebration.' ''As the infectious bunko man, Mr. Preston could hardly be improved on,'' Mr. Atkinson added. ''His expansive energy and his concentration on the crisis of the moment are tonic.''

Mr. Preston played the shady but likable salesman who is finally redeemed by the love of an Iowa librarian named Marian. He remained with The Music Man for the first three years of its run, and later re-created the leading role in a 1962 motion picture with Shirley Jones.

'My Best Hobby'''Acting is all I've ever done, and I've nothing else to make comparisons with when anyone asks me whether I've ever wanted anything else out of life,'' Mr. Preston told an interviewer in 1964. ''It's given me enough satisfaction so that I haven't wanted or had to look for anything else. For a man without hobbies, I stand in a wonderful spot, where what I do is my best hobby and everything else is a poor second.''

Mr. Preston served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, then returned to Hollywood and resumed making films. But after he came East in 1951 to replace Jose Ferrer on Broadway in Twentieth Century, he remained in New York and quickly established himself as a particularly versatile theatrical actor.
After leaving The Music Man, Mr. Preston continued to appear regularly on stage and screen.
His television appearances were sparing. ''I've done my best to avoid B pictures,'' he said in 1983. ''Why should I go into them now and call it television?'' Nevertheless, he appeared in several television movies in recent years, including ''September Gun,'' the story of an aging gunfighter, ''Finnegan Begin Again,'' about a veteran newspaperman, and ''Outrage,'' about a father whose daughter was raped. His only television series, ''The Chisholms,'' ran on CBS in 1979 as a mini-series and continued the following year as part of the network's regular programming.

Whether working in films, theater or television, Mr. Preston insisted that the experience for an actor was essentially the same. ''The camera lens or the television camera is still just a proscenium arch,'' he told The New York Times in 1985. ''And as a great old character actor once said to me, wherever you're acting, you reach up and take hold of the proscenium arch and you pull it down around your shoulders.''

Source: The New York Times obituary

ProductionsDate of Productions
Sly Fox
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Robert Preston
      Foxwell J. Sly - Replacement (May 10, 1977 - ?)
      The Judge - Replacement
Dec 14, 1976 - Feb 19, 1978
Mack & Mabel
[Musical, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Mack Sennett]
Oct 06, 1974 - Nov 30, 1974
I Do! I Do!
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [He (Michael)]
Dec 05, 1966 - Jun 15, 1968
The Lion in Winter
[Play, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Henry II]
Mar 03, 1966 - May 21, 1966
Ben Franklin in Paris
[Musical, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Benjamin Franklin]
Oct 27, 1964 - May 01, 1965
Nobody Loves an Albatross
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Nat Bentley]
Dec 19, 1963 - Jun 20, 1964
Too True to Be Good
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Robert Preston [The Burglar]
Mar 12, 1963 - Jun 01, 1963
The Music Man
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Harold Hill]
Dec 19, 1957 - Apr 15, 1961
The Hidden River
[Play, Original]
  • Performer: Robert Preston [Jean Monnerie]
Jan 23, 1957 - Mar 16, 1957
[Play, Romantic Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Gil]
Nov 24, 1955 - Jun 30, 1956
The Tender Trap
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Joe McCall]
Oct 13, 1954 - Jan 08, 1955
The Magic and The Loss
[Play, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [George Wilson]
Apr 09, 1954 - May 01, 1954
His and Hers
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Robert Preston [Clem Scott]
Jan 07, 1954 - Mar 13, 1954
Men of Distinction
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Peter Hogarth]
Apr 30, 1953 - May 02, 1953
The Male Animal
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Starring: Robert Preston [Joe Ferguson]
May 15, 1952 - Jan 31, 1953
The Male Animal
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Robert Preston [Joe Ferguson]
Apr 30, 1952 - Closing date unknown
1975 Tony Award® Best Actor in a Musical
Mack & Mabel [nominee]
Starring: Robert Preston
1975 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Mack & Mabel [nominee]
Starring: Robert Preston
1967 Tony Award® Best Actor in a Musical
winner I Do! I Do! [winner]
Starring: Robert Preston
1958 Tony Award® Best Actor in a Musical
winner The Music Man [winner]
Starring: Robert Preston
Find out where Robert Preston and are credited together