Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience

Todd Gault's Film Serial Experience: Movie serials, cliffhangers and reviews. A gallery of movie serial stars.
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You never really know about someone's abilities just from the work they are usually given. Character actor Cy Kendall usually played heavy set, tough talking hoods or cops who never seem to move from behind their desks (why he never got tapped to play Nero Wolfe is beyond me because he would have been perfect). Yet he was an accomplished actor who started on stage at the age of eight. As an adult he appeared on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he became a charter member of the Playhouse's famed Eighteen Actors, Inc., not only acting in but also directing many of the performances. Yet it was his debut in Manhunt (1936) that would cement his image to the movie going public as a mobster.

Not that this didn't prevent from having a long and prolific career that included major studio A productions like Angels Wash Their Faces (1939) and The Road to Morocco (1942), as well as B westerns like Outlaw Trail (1944) and The Cisco Kid Returns (1945). Along the way he became a familiar face in B mysteries, popping up in The Shadow Strikes (1937), The Saint Takes Over (1940) and Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat (1944). He had a recurring role in the Boston Blackie films as Jumbo Madigan in Alias Boston Blackie (1942), Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942), and After Midnight with Boston Blackie (1943).

It comes as no surprise that he would become a staple of the serials, mostly at Universal. He played crime bosses in The Green Hornet (1939), Junior G-Men (1940), and Secret Agent X-9 (1945). Along the way he also essayed minor roles as a police commissioner in Mystery of the Riverboat (1944), a Nazi agent in Jungle Queen (1945), and as the hero's secondary sidekick in The Scarlet Horseman (1946). His only none Universal serial was as a police official in Republic's The Tiger Woman (1944).

After the forties Kendall would turn from film, where the studio system was going through a major change, to the new medium of television. He was a popular guest on the short lived game show Armchair Detective (1949) and was a regular on Mysteries of Chinatown (1949-1950) before sadly passing away a few years later.

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