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C Entries
Edward L. Cahn
James Cameron
Lewis John Carlino
Richard Carlson
John Carradine
Helena Bonham Carter
Leo G. Carroll
Maurice Cass
Lon Chaney
Lon Chaney, Jr.
John Cho
Arthur C. Clarke
Phyllis Coates
Joan Collins
Sir Sean Connery
Roger Corman
Buster Crabbe
Richard Crane
Tom Cruise
Peter Cushing
 
CARROLL, LEO G.
(1886-1972). British actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: A Christmas Carol (1938); Tower of London (Rowland W. LEE 1939); "Macbeth" (1949), episode of The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse; Topper (tv series) (1953-1955); Tarantula (Jack ARNOLD 1955); "The Magic Fishbone" (1958), episode of Shirley Temple Theatre;  North by Northwest (Alfred HITCHCOCK 1959); "An Attractive Family" (1962), episode of Thriller; The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (tv series) (1964-1968); The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (tv series) (1966-1967); films assembled from episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Spy with My Face (John NEWLAND 1965); One Spy Too Many (Joseph SARGENT 1966); One of Our Spies Is Missing (E. Darrell Hallenbeck 1966); The Spy in the Green Hat (Sargent 1967); The Karate Killers (Barry Shear 1967); The Helicopter Spies (Boris Sagal 1968); How to Steal the World (Sutton Rowley 1968); episode of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (1968).
 
Leo G. Carroll lingers in the cultural zeitgeist solely as an old man, already fifty-two years old at the time of his first noteworthy film appearance, and most famous solely for parts played when he was well past the age of retirement. Since a longstanding preference for stage roles prevented him from performing in films as an energetic young hero, he often projects the attitude of a visibly frail senior citizen who now longs to participate, to the extent that he can, in the violent derring-do he had missed in his youth. Though a very different sort of performer, then, he functions in his best-known performances as science fiction film's equivalent to Walter Brennan, the wily old geezer who, as immortalized by David Thomson, always tries to improvise his way into the action.

As he gradually shifted his attention from the stage to the screen, Carroll garnered little attention portraying two famous victims—Marley in A Christmas Carol and King Duncan in Macbeth—but the perceptive Alfred HITCHCOCK recognized his remarkable talents and employed him as a supporting character in six films, most notably in the seriously strange North by Northwest as the unnamed "Professor" in charge of a shadowy  intelligence agency who recruits the inadvertently involved Cary Grant to help him capture a notorious enemy agent—prefiguring his most memorable role as Alexander Waverly, head of television's United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. On television, his short-lived series Topper was not particularly funny, or particularly successful, but it must be admitted that he was a better Topper than Roland Young, and unlike that actor, he was able to function as the genuine centerpiece of his contrived adventures as the befuddled victim of two manipulative ghosts. But Carroll was less effective as the misguided (and miscast) scientist whose experiments engender Jack ARNOLD's enormous Tarantula, perhaps because this obviously capable actor could not persuasively oversee the blunder-ridden research project that led to that monster, perhaps because he was visibly uncomfortable when the script required him to put on some monstrous makeup of his own.

Concealing his true age by telling reference books that he had been born in 1892, not 1886, Carroll soldiered on to his greatest triumph in the 1960s, while he approached his eighties, demonstrating by his stamina if not his muscularity that he did indeed come from a military background and had fought with distinction in World War I. For without discounting the acting skills of Robert VAUGHN and David MCCALLUM, one must acknowledge that Leo G. Carroll was one key reason for the success of the spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., effortlessly projecting a sort of distracted avuncularity as the young agents' leader while also conveying an underlying shrewdness that gave viewers confidence in the soundness of all his convoluted schemes. Indeed, the series may have gotten on the air primarily because the producers savvily replaced the pilot's spymaster, Will Kuluva, with the superior Carroll. As additional evidence of Carroll's value to the series, one might logically surmise that the failure of the series' attempted revival, with The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair (1983), largely stemmed from the fact that new U.N.C.L.E. leader Patrick MACNEE, for all his charm and self-confidence, could not quite match Carroll's aura of commanding intelligence. But even Carroll's competent support could not sufficiently animate the antics of Stefanie Powers and Noel Harrison in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. to make that spinoff series popular, and the resulting overexposure of Carroll and his organization may have contributed to the original series' premature demise in 1968.

Still, having celebrated his eightieth birthday by working simultaneously in two prime-time series, Carroll may have been secretly pleased when The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. ended, followed in a few months by The Man from U.N.C.L.E., since old men can get tired when constantly involved in young men's business and might start to long for some rest. Certainly, he displayed no ill-will toward the series that replaced The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, since he appeared in its first episode, in character as Alexander Waverly, to help viewers transition to the new series. But he had enough energy left to finally play a starring role in a film, incongruously a country-music musical called From Nashville with Music (1969), and to appear in a 1970 episode of Ironside, before he got to enjoy two years of retirement until his death in 1972. But for a long time, he served his craft honorably as an old, old soldier who refused to fade away.

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