Robert Cummings (born June 10, 1908; died December 2, 1990), also known as Bob Cummings, was an American motion picture and television actor noted for his fresh faced youthful look which lasted long after he was young. He was a friend of Ronald Reagan, who, possibly apocryphally, telephoned Cummings and directed him to change his political party affiliation after he (Reagan) became a Republican--whether Cummings complied is not entirely clear.
He chiefly performed in comic roles but was effective in his few dramas, especially two Alfred Hitchcock films, Saboteur and Dial M for Murder.
Cummings was born in Joplin, Missouri. While attending Joplin High School, he was taught to fly by his godfather, Orville Wright. He studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He had a brief career on Broadway under the stage name Blade Stanhope Conway, a supposed Englishman, before moving to Hollywood, California, first acting under the name and persona of Bruce Hutchens, a wealthy Texan.
In the 1930s Cummings worked (under his own name) as a contract player and appeared in a number of minor roles. He achieved stardom in 1939 in Three Smart Girls Grow Up opposite Deanna Durbin. His many film comedies also include: The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) with Jean Arthur, and The Bride Wore Boots (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck. Cummings gave memorable performances in three notable dramas: (1942) Kings Row with friend Ronald Reagan, (1942) Saboteur with Priscilla Lane and Norman Lloyd, and (1954) Dial M for Murder, with Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.
Cummings also made his mark in the CBS Radio network's long-running dramatic serial entitled: "Those We Love." In the program, which ran from 1938 to 1945, Cummings played the role of David Adair, opposite Richard Cromwell, Francis X. Bushman, and Nan Grey.
He served duty at a base in Oxnard, California during World War II, and later was a pilot in the United States Air Force Reserve.
Cummings began a long career on television in 1952 with the comedy My Hero. He was in the first performance of Twelve Angry Men to be televised, a live production that aired in 1955, and received an Emmy award for his role as Juror Number Eight. Beginning in 1955 and continuing through 1959, Cummings starred in his own sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show (shown in reruns as Love That Bob). That was followed by The New Bob Cummings Show, 1961-1962. He also spent a season starring in My Living Doll (1964), another sitcom. His last significant credit was the 1973 TV movie Partners in Crime, also starring Lee Grant.
Cummings was married five times, and had seven children. He was an advocate for healthy diet and authored the 1960 book, Stay Young and Vital.
He died of Parkinson's disease in 1990 at the age of 82, and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.