Louis Edmonds

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Born

9/24/1923 , Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Died

3/3/2001

Birth Name

Louis Stirling Edmonds

Gender

Biography:

Louis Edmonds had a prolific stage career in New York City and even made a few films, but the actor is best remembered for two classic television roles: as Roger Collins on "Dark Shadows" (1966 to 1971) and as Langley Wallingford on "All My Children" (1979 to 1995).

Edmonds fell in love with performing at an early age and in an unusual place. He was an acolyte in his local Episcopal church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and there he became entranced by the theatrical element of the ceremonies he took part in.

Years later he told a newspaper reporter, "The ceremony of the church was very appealing to me. Everything was translatable into theater. The congregation was the audience, and I held a great, brass crucifix, and I led the choir in. We wore costumes. Everything was theatrical."

Soon, sitting in the local movie theater, Edmonds realized he wanted to be an actor. After serving in World War II and then graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Melon) in Pittsburgh, Pa., the handsome, tall, blond man moved to New York City in 1948.

Soon he was appearing on stage and in a new medium: television. Among his early TV appearances was as Grumio in the 1950 Studio One production of "Taming of the Shrew," which starred Charlton Heston.

Louis made his Broadway debut in "Candide" in 1956. Other Broadway appearances included "Maybe Tuesday" in 1958, "A Passage to India" in 1962, and "Fire!" in 1969.

In 1966, Louis appeared in the first episode of the ground-breaking soap opera "Dark Shadows," opposite movie star Joan Bennett, as Roger Collins. Louis stayed with the Gothic soap for it's entire five year run, playing several characters, including Edward Collins and Daniel Collins.

In 1970, Louis and most of the rest of the primary cast of Dark Shadows appeared on the big screen in the film "House of Dark Shadows." In the movie, Louis' character, Roger, became a vampire and was graphically staked on-screen.

Louis' other movie credits include the Troy Donahue spy movie "Come Spy With Me" (1967) and "The Exterminator" (1980), in which he had a cameo as the chief of the CIA.

In 1979, Louis joined the cast of "All My Children" playing a con man targeting rich divorcee Phoebe Tyler (played by Ruth Warrick, best known as one of the stars of the film classic "Citizen Kane"). Louis' Langely Wallingford was soon redeemed by love, however, and the role, which was originally intended to be short-term, was extended into the longest of his career.

TV legend Carol Burnett briefly joined the cast of "All My Children" to play Langley's daughter, Verla Grubb in the 1980s. She returned to the show for a few episodes in 1995, which turned out to be Louis' last appearances on the show. He had undergone surgery for throat cancer a few years earlier, and never fully recovered his strength and stamina.

Aside from a small role in the 1997 direct-to-video movie "Next Year Jerusalem," Edmonds retired to his Setauket, Long Island home (dubbed "The Rookery"), which was where his health took a downturn in March 2001. He was rushed to the Stonybrook, NY, hospital, where he quickly succumbed to respiratory failure.

Louis, who was openly gay, collaborated with New York author Craig Hamrick on his biography, "Big Lou." It was first published in 1995, and a revised edition is planned for early 2002.