Ask James Gregory to define his life's work, and he will say simply, "I am an actor." That single word, spoken by a man who has made his living in an extraordinarily competitive field sums up his philosophy, ethics, and emotions regarding life as well as career.
Mr. Gregory is a proud man and an artist, one who doesn't let that term distract him from delivering an honest day's work. He is a no-nonsense professional who, through talent and determination, has built a solid reputation in the film industry as a consistent and reliable performer.
Whether the part is a leading role or as an ensemble player, James Gregory has always approached his work with a combination of ambition, integrity, and respect. It is this ability to focus his performance at a practical level as well as an artistic one that has created the electrifying style and substance of the broad range of characters that he has played.
Born in the Bronx borough of New York City, James Gregory grew up in suburban New Rochelle, NY. His ability and enthusiasm were recognized as early as high school, where he was elected president of the Drama Club, and captain of the Golf Team. Gregory enjoyed the challenge and sport of golf, and was talented enough to consider a career in professional golf at one time.
Independent and ambitious, James Gregory has always been self-supporting.From boyhood jobs as a caddy, bus-boy, waiter and grocery clerk, he went to work on Wall Street as a runner shortly after the 1929 crash. Over a five-year period he was promoted to clerk, and then private secretary. Other private-sector positions that he has held are sales and office work, as well as real-estate. Mr. Gregory also served for 3 years during WWII, in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. His tour of duty took him to the Pacific where he spent 83 days in Okinawa.
From local drama groups in Westchester County, Gregory progressed to professional status as a summer-stock player in 1935. He performed in plays throughout New York, Maryland, and New Jersey, and traveled with a troupe of performers through small towns in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, towing a trailer full of theatre props. They performed in school gymnasiums, churches, and YMCA's, earning 25.00 for a week of one-night stands.
In 1939, Gregory made his Broadway debut in a production of "Key Largo", with Paul Muni and Jose Ferrar. Over the next 18 years, Mr. Gregory performed in approximately 25 Broadway productions, working with a stunning line-up of talented actors. This included Paul Newman and Karl Malden in "The Desperate Hours", Don Taylor and Dane Clark in "Fragile Fox", Lloyd Bridges and Joan Loring in "Dead Pigeon", and John Forsythe and Ed Begley, Sr. in "All My Sons". It was on Broadway that Gregory played the character "Biff" in "Death of a Salesman", performing with five "Willy Lomans" Lee J. Cobb, Gene Lockhart, Thomas Mitchell, Albert Dekker, and Robert F. Simon.
During the course of his broadway career, James Gregory earned consistently favorable reviews for his performances by drama critics throughout the industry, such as the New York Press, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Hollywood Reporter, and "VARIETY".
In 1956, Mr. Gregory's career moved from the Broadway stage to live television. He worked steadily throughout the glory years of TV for every major live television production from New York to Hollywood, and at one point accomplished what is believed to be a record for live performances, acting in five different dramatic productions in 10 days.
Gregory also applied his dramatic talents to radio, doing narration and commercial work. He starred as "Captain Vincent J. Cronin" for a year, on the coast to coast broadcast of CBS Radio's "21st Precinct".
Mr. Gregory segued smoothly into the taped television series of the early sixties, and had starring or feature roles in classics such as "Twilight Zone", "Columbo", "McCloud", "The Big Valley", "Gunsmoke, "Bonanza", "The Virginian", "Playhouse 90", and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", to name only a few. From 1959 to 1961, he played "Barney Ruditsky" on the NBC series "The Lawless Years", a role that was based on the 1920's real-life detective from New York City. Gregory also won acclaim with his portrayal of detective "Inspector Luger" for eight seasons on the hit television series "Barney Miller".
In addition to carving a career for himself in every area of show business, James Gregory has also established himself firmly in movie and film history. He has worked with a long list of notables, including Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, Angela Lansbury, John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck, Andy Griffith, Kim Hunter, Robert Montgomery, Claude Raines, Vincent Price, Lillian Gish, and countless others. Gregory has earned the respect and regard of his colleagues both in front of and behind the camera, for the scope of his career and the strength of his talents. Says "Barney Miller" producer Danny Arnold, "Jim is a star in his field. There aren't that many feature character actors. Guys like him come along very seldom in this business."
In a career that has spanned over a half century, James Gregory has won sympathy as the beleaguered Senator Iselin in "The Manchurian Candidate", (with Frank Sinatra), and horrified viewers as evil Morgan Hastings, the land-hungry father who shot his own son in "The Sons of Katie Elder". He has held the line against lawlessness and corruption as Sgt. Schaeffer in "Al Capone", (with Rod Steiger), and mesmerized viewers as the human-hating gorilla General Ursus, in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes". Yet above all, James Gregory has devoted his considerable talent to the vocation he loves so well, and has entertained, uplifted, and captivated with his performances. His commitment to quality and integrity has endeared him to a legion of fans, establishing him as a star in the acting field, and a legend in film history.
Mr. Gregory lived with Anne Gregory, his beloved wife in Sedona, Arizona the last 54 years of his life