Conrad Nagel Born in Keokuk, Iowa, USA, into an upper middle-class family, he was the son of a musician father named Frank and a mother named Frances (nÃ©e Murphy) who was a locally praised singer. Nagel's mother died early in his life, and he always attributed his artistic inclination to growing up in a family environment that encouraged self-expression. His father, Frank, became dean of the music conservatory at Highland Park College and when Nagel was three, the family moved to Des Moines.
After graduating from Highland Park College at Des Moines, Iowa, Nagel left for California to pursue a career in the relatively new medium of motion pictures where he garnered instant attention from the Hollywood studio executives. With his six foot tall frame, blue eyes, and wavy blond hair; the young Midwestern Nagel was seen by studio executives as a potentially wholesome matinee idol whose unpretentious all-American charm would surely appeal to the nation's nascent film-goers.
Nagel was immediately cast in film roles that cemented his unspoiled lover image. His first film was the 1918 retelling of the Louisa May Alcott classic Little Women, which quickly captured the public's attention and set Nagel on a path to silent film stardom. His breakout role came in the 1920 film The Fighting Chance opposite Swedish starlet Anna Q. Nilsson.
On May 11, 1927 Nagel was among 35 other film industry insiders to found the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS); a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. Fellow actors involved the founding included: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Richard Barthelmess, Jack Holt, Milton Sills, and Harold Lloyd. He was also a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
In 1927, Nagel starred alongside Lon Chaney, Sr., Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran in the now lost Tod Browning directed horror classic London After Midnight. The film is quite possibly the most famous and talked about lost film ever.
Unlike so many silent films stars of the Roaring Twenties, Conrad Nagel had little difficulty transitioning to talkies and spent the next several decades being very well received in high profile films as a character actor. He was also frequently heard on radio and made many notable appearances on television. From 1949 to 1952 he hosted the popular TV game show Celebrity Time.
He was the host of 5th Academy Awards ceremony held on the November 18, 1932 and a co-host with Bob Hope at the 25th Academy Awards ceremony on March 19, 1953 as well as the 1930 host of the Emmy Awards. In 1940, Nagel was given an Honorary Academy Award for his work with the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
Nagel married and divorced three times. His first wife, Ruth Helms, gave birth to a daughter, Ruth Margaret, in 1920. His second wife was Lynn Merrick. His third wife was Michael Coulson Smith, who gave birth to a son Michael in the late 1950's.
In 1970, Nagel died in New York City and was cremated at Garden State Crematory in North Bergen, New Jersey.
For his contributions to in film, radio, and television, Conrad Nagel was given three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1719 Vine Street (Motion Pictures), 1752 Vine Street (Radio), and 1752 Vine Street (Television).