Elisha Cook, Jr.

Description   [from Freebase]

Elisha Vanslyck Cook, Jr. (December 26, 1903 – May 18, 1995) was an American character actor who made a career out of playing cowardly villains and weedy neurotics in dozens of films. He was perhaps most noted for his portrayal of the "gunsel" Wilmer, who tries to intimidate Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. Cook was born in San Francisco, the son of Elisha Vanslyck Cook, Sr., a pharmacist. He grew up in Chicago. He started out in vaudeville and stock by the age of 14. He was a traveling actor in the East and Midwest before arriving in New York City, where Eugene O'Neill cast him in his play Ah, Wilderness!, which ran on Broadway for two years. In 1936, Cook settled in Hollywood and, after playing a series of college-aged parts, began a long stint playing weaklings or sadistic losers and hoods. His acting career spanned more than 60 years. Cook's characters usually ended up being killed off (strangled, poisoned or shot); he was arguably Hollywood's most notable fall guy for many years. He made a rare appearance in slapstick comedy in the cameo role of The Screenwriter in 1941's Hellzapoppin'.
Portions from Freebase, licensed under CC-BY and Wikipedia licensed under the GFDL