Raymond Massey

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Raymond Hart Massey (August 30, 1896 – July 29, 1983) was a Canadian-born American actor.


Early life

Massey was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Anna (née Vincent) and Chester Daniel Massey, the wealthy owner of the Massey-Ferguson Tractor Company.[1] Massey's family could trace their ancestry back to the American Revolutionary War. He attended secondary school briefly at Upper Canada College, before transferring to Appleby College[2] in Oakville, Ontario, and graduated from university at University of Toronto where both he and his cousin were active members in The Kappa Alpha Society, and Balliol College, Oxford.

At the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Canadian Army, serving with the artillery on the Western Front. He returned to Canada suffering shell-shock and was engaged as an army instructor for American officers at Yale. In 1918, he was sent to serve at Siberia, where he made his first stage appearance, entertaining American troops on occupation duty. Severely wounded in action in France, he was sent home, where he eventually worked in the family business, selling farm implements.

Acting career

Drawn to the theatre, in 1922, he appeared on the London stage. His first movie role was High Treason in 1927. In 1929 he directed the London premiere of The Silver Tassie. He played Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Band in 1931, the first sound film version of the story. In 1934, he starred in The Scarlet Pimpernel and, in 1936, he starred in H. G. Wells's Things to Come. Despite being Canadian, Massey became famous for his quintessential American roles such as abolitionist John Brown in 1940's Santa Fe Trail and again as John Brown in the 1955 low-budget film Seven Angry Men. His second portrayal of Brown was much more sympathetic, presenting him as a well-intentioned, but misguided figure, while in Santa Fe Trail he was presented as a wild-eyed lunatic.

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