Authoritative character actor who enjoyed a lengthy stage career during the 1930s and 1940s while making occasional, minor appearances in such films as The House on 92nd St (1945), 13 Rue Madeleine (1946), and Call Northside 777 (1948). Two of his best screen roles came in the 1950s, when he gave finely tuned performances as an aging bookkeeperhypochondriac in The Bachelor Party (1957) and an unruffled stockbroker serving on a jury in 12 Angry Men (1957). Marshall could be depended upon to play characters of authority: Lieutenant Commander Challee in The Caine Mutiny (1954), The Governor in Broken Lance (1954) and Governor Claiborne in The Buccaneer (1958). He gave workmanlike performances as a cop in Pushover (1954), a doctor in The Left Hand of God (1955), a lawyer in Man on Fire (1957), and a state's attorney in Compulsion (1959). Woody Allen gave him his best latter-day screen role as a wealthy man who leaves his disturbed wife for a more vivacious companion in Interiors (1978). He was then cast-credibly, as always-as the President of the United States in Superman II (1980). Other films include Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Creepshow (1982), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), and Consenting Adults (1992).
Marshall earned his greatest fame for his work in hundreds of live 1950s television dramas, and for his starring role in "The Defenders" (1961-65), one of the rare socially conscious TV series of the period; he earned two Emmy Awards playing veteran attorney Lawrence Preston. He later starred in "The New Doctors" segment of "The Bold Ones" (1969-73). His voice is well known for his narration of countless documentaries, and his face is likewise familiar as a ubiquitous TV host/narrator. At age 84, Marshall appeared as an American tourist determined to pilfer a priceless Russian antiquity in Russian Holiday (1993), then joined the cast of TVs "Chicago Hope" (1994-1995).
Copyright ©1994 Leonard Maltin, used by arrangement with Signet, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc.