World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

R Entries
  Claude Rains
  Basil Rathbone
  Rex Reason
  Rhodes Reason
  George Reeves
  Keanu Reeves
  Michael Rennie
  Dame Diana Rigg
  Robby the Robot
  Cliff Robertson
  Gene Roddenberry
  Majel Barrett Roddenberry
(1928– ). American actor.

Acted in: This Island Earth (Joseph NEWMAN and Jack ARNOLD, uncredited 1955); The Creature Walks Among Us (John SHERWOOD 1956); The Witch's Dungeon: 40 Years of Thrills (video documentary) (Dennis Vincent 2006).

Archival footage from This Island Earth:  The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Joel SCHUMACHER 1981); E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven SPIELBERG 1982); Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie (Jim Mallon 1996).

My original plan, I'll admit, was to write a joint entry on the Reason brothers, Rex and younger brother Rhodes REASON—since they closely resemble each other in their appearance and abilities, and since one really must combine their credits to assemble a significant career in science fiction film. But such a policy would not be fair to these gentlemen, who undoubtedly have grown very tired of being mistaken for each other, and separate entries focusing on their separable qualities might help to prod people to stop asking Rhodes about This Island Earth and to stop asking Rex about Star Trek. So, here's the quick guide to telling them apart: Rex was slightly more handsome, while Rhodes was a slightly better actor.

By his own report, Rex Reason harbored no ambitions to become an actor while growing up, but a good-looking guy living in Los Angeles will inevitably be advised to seek a career in show business, and after returning home from World War II, that's exactly what he did. As was so often the case, his roles onstage at the Pasadena Playhouse led to a contract to appear in films—he looked like a star, his deep booming voice made him sound like a star, and the fact that he couldn't act like a star, at the time, did not seem a major liability. He resisted his studio's attempt to re-brand him as Bart Roberts, and reverted to his real name just in time for the role that forever defined his career—Dr. Cal Meacham in This Island Earth.

His contributions to making that film an unacknowledged classic were unique and subtle: stunningly unpersuasive as the world's leading nuclear physicist, utterly wooden in his speech and movements, Rex Reason was perfectly suited to deliver the film's true message—that the film's ostensible hero Meacham, purportedly representing the best and brightest of the human race, was in fact completely helpless and ineffectual in having any impact at all on the drama unfolding around him, indicating that humanity as a whole was in fact helpless and ineffectual when considered against the backdrop of a vast and mysterious universe. This is the reason for the title of Raymond F. Jones's novel—wherein he likens humans to residents of a tiny Pacific island during World War II, oblivious and unimportant to the larger conflict going on around them—and an idea brilliantly amplified by its film adaptation, with Rex Reason's unknowing assistance.

In the years that followed, Reason mostly appeared in film and television westerns, although he did appear in a second science fiction film, The Creature Walks Among Us, playing the nicest of the scientists who implausibly transform the lithe, athletic Creature into a stiff, uncomfortable-looking land animal—one might say that Reason and his cohort in bad acting, Jeff MORROW, were remaking the Creature in their own image. But films which are improved by incompetent performances are few and far between, and after starring in the television series The Roaring 20's (1960-1962), he wisely decided to follow the other piece of advice that people living in Los Angeles invariably hear: "get into real estate!" By all accounts, he went on to enjoy a long and successful career in that field, and although he occasionally appears at autograph shows, he has expressed no desire to get back into show business. Paradoxically, however, he has remained an enduring presence in science fiction film because of his role in This Island Earth—with archival footage glimpsed in The Incredible Shrinking Woman and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and viciously sneered at in Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie. When much better actors are long forgotten, it seems, Rex Reason will still be cherished for his one, memorably bad performance.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art