A Background of Robert Quarry
First I would like to give credit to "The Robert Quarry Fan Club" formed in 1974 by Ron Janick (In which I was Art Director for at 16 years old!) and the recent "Psychotronic Video" magazine Number 33 for the following information and insight of the talented Mr. Robert Quarry.
American International Pictures signed Robert Quarry to a long-term contract not only because he was so convincing in the title role of "Count Yorga, Vampire" and "the Return of Count Yorga" but because he is an actor with personality and, in fact, slated to inherit the AIP throne of horror from Vincent Price in 1974.
Quarry admits to an I.Q. of 168, but when someone talks with him you think it must be higher. He finished school at age 14 and was making $750 a week at the age of 17 and became a Life Master at playing Bridge while overcoming a cancer situation.
California born, he spent his formative years in Santa Rosa far from Hollywood, but close enough to permit him to win a scholarship at the Pasadena Playhouse and be obtained by Alfred Hitchcock before he could even enroll. He made his film debut in Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" at the age of 15, followed by continuous work in films at Universal Studios and on radio.
Early in World War II Quarry was one of the busiest juvenile actors on radio with regular appearances on the Lux Show and as a regular on the "Dr. Christian" program.
Acting had to be relegated to a lesser place in Quarry's life when he reached 18 and joined the Army Combat Engineers. For reasons that could only pertain to this unusual person, Quarry had to undergo basic training three times.
Somehow this young Californian managed to form his own theatrical troupe while in the Army and he acted in and helped produce a hit production, "The Hasty Heart". President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the viewing of the play.
After the war, the never-happy-unless-acting Quarry charged into the new medium of television in New York City. He debuted on the Broadway Stage in the Katherine Hepburn company of "As You Like It". Next, for director Margaret Webster, "The Taming of the Shrew", "Richard III" with Maurice Evans, then "Gramercy Ghost" with Veronica Lake, on Broadway and on tour followed. Then back on television he played on "Studio One", "Philco" and "Robert Montgomery Presents". In one of the "Robert Montgomery Presents" shows he played brother to the late James Dean.
Louis B. Mayer signed Robert Quarry as a potential movie star, but the management of MGM suddenly changed and Robert Quarry sat around for two years "undiscovered". He did continue his "most beneficial" friendship with Katherine Hepburn during that period.
20th Century Fox contracted Robert Quarry, but he was bounced out of Clark Gable's "Soldier of Fortune" and Jennifer Jones' "Good Morning, Miss Dove" because he looked too young. He did manage to hang in there for "A Kiss Before Dying".
Quarry attended the Actors Lab in Hollywood regularly no matter what his other professional obligations were. He believed that the experience he gained there was a valuable one, as assuredly as valuable as any he derived elsewhere.
Cloris Leachman and Robert Quarry teamed in "Design for Living" at the Stage Society in Los Angeles for an eight-month engagement. Ford Foundation money was allocated to the resourceful young actor to permit him to spend the years of 1960 through 1962 visiting regional theaters in the U.S. and helping them gain greater professionalism. He found his efforts particularly gratifying and successful at the Arema Theatre in Washington, D.C. and the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas. He acted in the regional productions, many of which were Shakespearean plays, and he found himself becoming recognized as an expert on the Bard. He was in demand for campus lectures and performances and his performances were commended by such publications as the New York Times, The Herald Tribune and Time Magazine.
In 1963 he was back on television in a running role in the "Mr. Adams and Eve" series. TV commercials were next and the versatile Robert Quarry started to become financially successful. He is particularly proud of a very well received "Joy Soap" blurb he did in Japanese!
Cancer came in 1965. He doesn't like to talk about it. It is gone now, as far as the media is concerned. He did gain time to concentrate on playing Bridge and winning the coveted Life Master status.
In 1966 Robert Quarry went on a tour with "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" He also had a role in the racing film "Winning" with Paul Newman; only his scene was cut from the film. Later he was in Paul Newman's "WUSA" in which he played the television station manager and that scene stayed in the final film. Robert Quarry has remained friends with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for over 20 years.
In 1970 Robert Quarry starred in three horror films in which he is most famous for, "Count Yorga, Vampire", "Return of Count Yorga" and "The Deathmaster", the last one Quarry produced and Ray Danton directed. "The Deathmaster" was a so-called hippie and biker teenagers meet up with a Charlie Manson Vampire Guru!!! In "The Zombies of Sugar Hill", a blaxploitation film involving voodoo and gangsters, Quarry played a leader of a Mafia gang. Then in "Dr. Phibes Rises Again" he played Biederbeck a man who is obsessed with eternal life and an old rival to Vincent Price's Dr. Phibes character. He believes that playing such strange characters has been facilitated by his considerable experience playing Shakespearean and classical drama. He has not been concerned of typecasting because of his enormous diversity of roles he has played in the past.
Robert Quarry was also in the 1977 disaster film "Rollercoaster". Followed by an update to the Marvin Balsam (1955-56) television series "The Millionaire" in 1978. He continued on with appearances in "The Rockford Files", "Kojak" and "Cannon" episodes. Also in an episode of "Buck Rogers" in 1978.
Quarry landed many villainous character roles throughout the seventies and had a lot of bad happenings throughout his career, one being a mugging which left him near death. The mugging happened in 1982 outside his North Hollywood apartment and he was robbed for twenty-seven dollars, but cost him $177,000 in doctor's bills. The muggers broke his knees, ribs and cheekbone. Fortunately Quarry regained himself and is continually entertaining us on screen or on video.
Fred Olen Ray, director of many independent films, contacted Robert Quarry in 1987 while he was recuperating in a wheelchair for several films, "Cyclone", "The Phantom Empire", Commando Squad", "Spirits", "Alienator", "Teenage Exorcist", "Mind Twister", with Telly Savalas's last film and Telly and Quarry would reminisce about "Kojak" appearances and "Beverly Hills Vamp", in which Quarry makes mention to some teenage vampire hunters the name "Count Yorga"…which is funny if you knew Quarry was in fact the character Count Yorga!!!
Some Interesting Facts About Robert Quarry…
Robert Quarry, 6'1", 130 lbs., blue-eyed, isn't concerned over stardom he loves his profession of acting. In a Robert Quarry Fan Club statement back in 1974 he stated, "My motive is quite simple. I want to be able to continue to earn a decent living and earn the respect of the people I work with. I'm a positive thinker. I don't panic, I don't scare. I've seen lots of brilliant actors go under because they panicked, got scared and ran. I'm hard to scare. I'm pleased with myself as an actor and as a human being. If you work hard, you get things and you don't have to thank everyone, although I feel I owe much to Joseph Cotton and his late wife Lenore, Orson Welles, Katherine Hepburn, Alfred Lunt, Lynne Fontanne, and to Preston Sturges, the very inventive director who died several years ago."
"If you want to last in this business, you have to give a lot. You can't just take. And you have to have an agent who really cares, and who works for you, like I have…Hal Gefsky."
Robert's father was a doctor, but his grandmother introduced him to the theatre at such an early age that he never considered becoming a physician. He didn't even reconsider it, when living in New York on a few dollars a week just after the war. He subsisted on cream cheese and nut sandwiches and chocolate shakes!
Robert Quarry, who was on his high school's swimming team, now is a vigorous tennis player, polo participant and an enthusiastic actor in a world he finds exciting.
In 1974, when his Fan Club was active, he was not married. Also Quarry's friends regard him as one of America's Finest Chefs! He studied the art of cooking at the Cardon Bleu School in Manhattan under the supervision of Dione Lucas. In the 1980's he even had a paperback cookbook he had written which sold for 60,000 copies. It was titled "Wonderfully Simple Recipes For Simply Wonderful Food".
A quote from "Psychotronic Video" No. 33: Robert Quarry states: "…So I always tried to play villains like the heroes. Vincent Price was always playing boogieman things, overdoing stuff, and I was like, ‘Jesus, Vincent, for once just play it straight.' I mean, I played Count Yorga straight, I played Deathmaster straight. But Vincent's mannerisms took him over. As an actor you should never allow that to happen. The best villains are the ones who are both protagonist and antagonist."