|uy Usher (May 9. 1893 - Jun 16. 1944)|
(1) Nina G(u)ilbert (1917? - bfr 1921, divorce)
(2) Evelyn Walker (Jun 30. 1924 - Jun 16. 1944, his death)
He went to school in Emmetsburg, Iowa (1897).
As early as 1906 James Guy Usher is know to perform in stock companies. "Miss Josephine Deffrey & Co." and "The Eckhardt's Ideals" were practically the same large Eastern repertoire company who brought A Fight For Honor, and the border drama The Great Northwest to the podium. Among the clever performers are Oliver Eckhardt, James Guy Usher, Frank Howard, Melvin Mayo, Win. Cornelius, Miss Georgia Nichols, Ella Morton and Sara Drummond. (Sep 1906)
He appeared as John Travers, the friendly lawyer in the comedy The Marriage of Kitty (1911) with Max Figman, Lolita Robertson, Phyllis Gordon, Louise Glaum. (Sep. 1911, Los Angeles)
In December 1912 James was appearing in the "Bailey-Mitchell stock company" featuring Guy Hitner and Clara Beyers.
In 1913 James kept changing stock company going from the "Princess" to the "Pantages company" where he worked with Dorothy Davis Allen. Whilst in 1914 he worked with "The Metropolitan Players", headed by Florence Malone with Dwight A. Meade, Auda Due, Florence Spencer, Max Steinle, Nina Guilbert, Marie Van Tassel, Leslie Wallingford, Will T. Lloyd, Byron Aldenn and Oliver J. Eckhardt. The latter is the art director selected by Miss Malone to stage the plays in which she appears..
Two new members of the Fletcher players, Miss Nina Gilbert and Mr. James Guy Usher, made their local debut in Over-Night. Miss Gilbert proved herself to be an actress of exceptional talents and took the role of "Elsie Darling' in a splendid manner, while Mr. Usher was quite at home in the role of "Percy Darling." The story of the play itself is centred around a huge blunder in which two young married couples are interchanged on their honeymoon. (Vancouver, Dec 1913)
In Sep 1914 manager Donnellan put together the "Frank Rich Musical Comedy company" with Miss Genevieve Blinn. Verne Layton, Guy Usher, Nina Gilbert. Mike Hooley, Jimmy Norton, Dave Williams, Florence Spencer, Marie Van Tassell and Bud Wallace.
Mr. W. B. Sherman, manager of the Majestic and James Guy Usher have formed a partnership, and are presenting an excellent stock company at the Majestic. (1915-1916) . They put on The Girl in the Taxi with James as the producer, and was supported by an excellent company. This "Sherman and Usher Stock company", with Miss Zana Vaughn and James Guy Usher was just strengthened with the addition of Mr. Jean Clarendon, Miss Clara La Mar and Jack Fleming. The personnel was Nina Gilbert, Laurel Bennetts, Allen Strickfaden, J. W. Middlemas, Charles Smith, S. G. Davidson, Perry Spencer, Jack Fleming.
In 1917 he briefly made a sudden switch to a duo act, billed as vaudeville, he was playing opposite Nina Gilbert, with whom he had been performing in various companies since 1913, in a comedy playlet The Opponents. Morning, Noon and Night was another little comedy they performed at the Hippodrome, Portland, Oregon. Nina Gilbert, as a suffragist who is a political rival to a non-suffraging husband, played by James Guy Usher. Described as a tussle of epigrams, wit and philosophy concerning suffrage, and winded up with the husband's election and 'wifie's' return to her kitchen. (Sep, 1917)
Soon after this start Guy accepted an offer to appear with the Alcazar Players. It's a fact that by 1917 James and Nina were husband and wife. Although it appears this marriage didn't last long, according to the 1920 census he lived (registered as single) with his brother Eugene F. and his family.
By May 30. 1920 manager W. W. Freeman of the Palace theater made arrangements to place a permanent dramatic stock company there. The opening performance by the "Associated Players", under the management of Harry J. Iceland featured James Guy Usher in the leading role. He was said to be an actor of exceptional ability and wide experience. For three years Mr Usher was Nat Goodman's leading support. He has played the leading parts with the "Alcazar Players" of Portland, Oregon, "the Empress company" at Vancouver, and had just finished a two-year engagement with the "Hippodrome Players" at Salt Lake City. The feminine portion of the cast was headed by Miss Viola Hanes.
He married Evelyn Walker (b.1902) on June 30. 1924 in Golden, Jefferson County, Colorado.
The stocky, officious American actor made a spectacular film debut, somewhat late in his career, in The Penguin Pool Murder (1932), playing the drowned victim of the titular crime (picture above left).
Many of Usher's subsequent roles required a great deal of fluster and bluster: as land-developer Harry Payne Bosterly in It's a Gift (1934), he dismissed W.C. Fields by bellowing, "You're drunk!," whereupon Fields put him in his place by responding, "And you're crazy. But tomorrow I'll be sober, and you'll always be crazy."
Usher also appeared as D.A. Hamilton Burger in the 1934 Perry Mason adaptation The Case of the Black Cat. In the late '30s-early '40s, Guy Usher was a mainstay at Monogram Pictures, again specializing in murder victims.
The first actor to appear, very
briefly, as Inspector Queen. Guy Usher played him in the first
Ellery Queen movie
The Spanish Cape
At one time
the opening sequence (the only
part of the film in which the Inspector appears) was thought to be
it has Usher as Inspector Queen calling in his son
to help him out with a jewel robbery (See picture above
As a portly supporting actor he was seen in horror films of the late 1930s and early 1940s, usually playing industrialists or business people who seem powerless in the face of evil. This is certainly the case with Henry Morton in The Devil Bat (1940) - a typical executive type sitting behind an office desk issuing orders. (See below left).
He would reappear uncredited in another EQ movie, this time as a police detective in A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942).
James Guy Usher died from a heart attack on June 16, 1944 in San Diego, California, USA.
Additional video & audio sources
(1) The Penguin Pool Murder Clip from movie
|This actor profile is a part of the Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Inspector Queen in one of the Ellery Queen movies|
Page first published on November 1. 2017
Last updated November 1, 2017
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