Anthony George
Dark Shadows Characters:
Burke Devlin, Jeremiah Collins

Appeared in: 48 episodes

First episode: # 262, June 27, 1967

Last episode: # 384, December 14, 1967

Born: January 29, 1921?(date contradicted in various sources; sometimes stated as 1925); Endicott, New York

Died: March 16, 2005, California

Obituary: Anthony George, who played two major roles on Dark Shadows in 1967, died Wednesday March 16 in California. He had been hospitalized for a lung disorder. On DS, he played businessman Burke Devlin in present time, and Barnabas' dashing cousin Jeremiah Collins in the 1795 flashback. Jeremiah played a pivotal part in the vampire-curse storyline: Bewitched by Angelique, he married Josette and was killed by her jealous former fiancee, Barnabas.

I knew very little about Mr. George when I began researching my book Barnabas & Company, and his career provided more surprises than those of any of his costars. I learned that as a contract player toward the end of Hollywood's studio system, he had appeared in a few major motion pictures. And before assuming his supporting role in Dark Shadows, he had been the star of his own detective series in primetime. Checkmate, also starring Doug McClure and Sebastian Cabot, featured an impressive roster of guest stars including Anne Baxter and Jack Benny. It aired from 1960 to '62, and was derailed in part because of behind-the-scenes clashing egos, which George spoke frankly about to several magazines, including TV Guide. As I relate in the Barn&Co, George got some career advice from a surprising source while on Checkmate: One day at the studio commissary, movie legend Cary Grant recommended that he ignore his flashy costars and concentrate on his work. The advice came a bit late; the show was already doomed.

George left Hollywood for New York, where he worked on stage and eventually landed the job on Dark Shadows. Later he told a magazine writer that he didn't enjoy the work: "I was the romantic lead in that," he said to TV Collector magazine in 1995. "I couldn't have hated it more." He said that he felt choosing to do soap operas made it difficult to get other kinds of work later.

Fortunately, the actor's displeasure didn't show up on the screen. In my opinion, his acting work was some of the best seen on DS. He went on to star in two more soap operas, Search for Tomorrow and One Life to Live (with Nancy Barrett).

In his 70s, he told TV Collector that though he hadn't worked in recent years, he hoped to go back to acting: "I'm not dead yet!" he said in '95. "There are parts fore people in my age group, and I still have a feeling of, 'Well, there's always tomorrow.' "
--Craig Hamrick

Biography: Attending a movie with his grandfather in the early 1930s, young Octavio (later Anthony) George was bitten by the acting bug. A child performed in a vaudeville act between two movies. "It was a little boy my own age, billed as 'Bobby,'" he told a reporter years later. "Bobby sang and danced, nothing very special, but I remember being impressed all of a sudden, with the fact that he was only six. From that day on, I knew I had to be an entertainer."

That dream to perform stayed with him. He entered a drama class in high school but, he later told a reporter, he was disappointed to discover that it was "more concerned with the history of the theater than the presentation of plays."

After a three-year stint in the Army Air Corps. and a short time working as a clerk at an IBM plant in Endicott, N.Y., and a traveling salesman for a portrait photography studio, Anthony arrived in Hollywood in 1948, just as the studio system was breaking up. He was soon under contract with Twentieth Century Fox. He appeared a some movies (including Where the Sidewalk Ends in 1950) and starred in a TV show (Those Two in 1951). But things happened too fast for the emotionally fragile young man.



Back in Hollywood,

"Without much struggling, I was off to the races," he told the Sunday News a decade later. "Then, wham! Reality struck. Then movie industry started going sour and I awoke to the brutal fact that I hadn't begun to learn my craft."

Movie star Dick Powell was on-hand for Anthony's nervous breakdown in 1951 when they both appeared in the film You Never Can Tell.

"I make no bones about it," Anthony later told TV Guide. "I folded up in my dressing room in hysterics. It was during a flu epidemic, and the day before shooting began, I came down with it. I went to work anyway, but I had no confidence at all. I was scared that someone would find out I wasn't an actor. I blew take after take and finally I just cracked up. Powell came to the dressing room and talked to me. He was very decent and understanding, and he calmed me down. I managed to finish the picture, but I thought I was washed up in Hollywood for good. As soon as it was finished, I packed up and left for New York."

The actor's career did rebound from the breakdown and the bad movie. In New York, he found work in the new and growing medium of television. In 1952, he played Vivian Blaine's boyfriend in Those Two, a three-times-a-week 15-minute TV series that also starred burlesque comedian Pinky Lee. He also appeared in such anthology series as Studio One, The Web, and Tales of Tomorrow.

But he hit a speed bump in 1954. He suffered from a severe case of hepatitis which landed him in the Veterans Administration hospital for six months. "They had me in 'Saint Peter's Room,'" he told TV Guide later. "That's a joke at the hospital. You're not supposed to come out."

His year-long convalescence brought a halt to his career. Movie star Rosalind Russell helped jumpstart it by picking him to co-star with her on TV in the General Electric Theater production of "The Night Goes On," in 1956. He played a Mexican ranch hand who won the heart of her spinster character. That appearance raised his profile, and he quickly won parts on other TV series, including Zorro (1958), Sea Hunt (several episodes in 1959), and Hawaiian Eye (1959). He was also cast in a few more movies, including Three Bad Sisters (1956) and Gunfight at Indian Gap (1957).

Then in 1959 he won a plum TV role in The Untouchables on ABC. There was static between him and series star Robert Stack (who played Eliot Ness), however, so Anthony only appeared in 13 episodes. "There simply wasn't any real need for a costar in the series," he told a newspaper reporter later. A rain of bullets ended the life of his character, Cam Alison.

He was preparing to return to New York again when he found himself cast in Checkmate as Don Corey, head of an upscale San Francisco detective agency. The one-hour CBS series had high production values and an impressive roster of guest stars (from Anne Baxter to Jack Benny). But its formula of three male leads (Antony, Sebastian Cabot, and Doug McClure) led to tensions on the set. The show left the air after three seasons (1960-62).

In a November 1961 article in the Newark Evening News Anthony defined his show as a mystery-suspense series with an action-adventure twist, rather than a "crime show."

"In our show we are out to checkmate a crime or violence before it happens," he explained. "Of course some sort of crime may have occurred to lead up to the impending action, but we don't call Checkmate a crime series."

He described the tough grind required by his responsibilities on Checkmate. Throughout the summer, to build up a season's worth of episodes, the cast was required to be in the studio, filming, five days a week. "Normally, we are off on Saturdays and Sundays," he said, "but those days are usually spent in studying the script for the week's work ahead."

The article described him as "36, six-foot-one, 163 pounds and a bachelor." It also called Checkmate a "TV film series," probably referring to the higher-than-average production values.

When Checkmate was cancelled Anthony returned to New York and more stage work. Then in 1967, he took over the role of mysterious businessman Burke Devlin on Dark Shadows when Mitch Ryan was fired.

When Burke's sometime love interest Victoria Winters journeyed into the past, he also played one of the most pivotal characters in the DS storyline: Barnabas' cousin Jeremiah Collins. (Bewitched by Angelique, Jeremiah married Josette, Barnabas' fiancee, then was killed by the future vampire in a duel.) Anthony's departure that same year also set in motion one of the sillier aspects of the show: Because another actor assumed the role of Jeremiah's ghost, when the ghost was seen, his head was wrapped in bandages. This might have made sense if Jeremiah had died of head wounds -- but his deathbed scenes were played by Anthony, with no facial disfigurement.

Anthony spent the next decade and a half working on soap operas -- as Dr. Tony Vincente from 1970 to '75 on Search For Tomorrow, and as Dr. Will Vernon on One Life to Live from 1977 to '84. His acting path briefly recrossed those of his fellow DS alums, Nancy Barrett and Grayson Hall.

He also guest-starred in prime time, in Wonder Woman (1977), Police Woman (1977) and Simon and Simon (1988).

In 1991, the actor was honored with a bronze star on the Sidewalk of Stars in his hometown of Binghamton. He told the local newspaper, the Press & Sun-Bulletin, that it was better than receiving an Oscar:"It's really nice when you find out that your hometown remembers you," he said.

Anthony died of a lung disorder in a California hospital in March 2005. Though some fan magazines had previously reported he was born in 1925, his obituary stated that he was 84.

The obituary, titled Binghamton film, TV star mourned, by Darise Jean-Baptiste, included comments from some of the actor's life-long friends.

Former girlfriend 80-year-old Dilys Corino said success in Hollywood and New York had not inflated Anthony's ego. "He was a charmer," she said. "He didn't realize it, and that's what made it so much fun."

Career Highlights:
DAYTIME TV: Dark Shadows (1967, Burke Devlin, Jeremiah Collins) One Life to Live (Dr. Will Vernon, 1977-84), Search for Tomorrow (Dr. Tony Vincente, 1970-75).

PRIMETIME TV: Simon and Simon (1988), Wonder Woman (1977), Policewoman (1977), Baretta (Box), Executive Suite (Don Walling), Rockford Files (Colonel Hopkins), The Blue Knight (Pete Stryker), Starsky & Hutch, The Millionaire, Hawaiian Eye, Checkmate (Don Corey, 1960-62), The Untouchables (Cam Allison, 1960), Studio One, Kraft Theatre, Tales of Tomorrow, Broken Arrow, Sandy, The Web, The Crusader, General Electric Theatre: The Night Goes On, Those Two, Climax, Sea Hunt, 77 Sunset Strip.

TV COMMERCIAL: Vick's Vapor Rub (voice-over).

SCREEN: Love that Brute, Three Bad Sisters (1956), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Under My Skin (1950), The Folsom Story, You Never Can Tell (1951).

THEATER: The Front Page (Hildy Johnson, 1974, NY), Endicott and the Red Cross (Kinsman, 1970), Winterset (1950, Laguna, CA), Ten O'Clock Scholar, The Voice of the Turtle, The Mating Dance, Sunday in New York, The Tender Trap, Cactus Flower, The Rainmaker, Everything in the Garden, Come Blow Your Horn, Mister Roberts, Winterset.

BROADWAY & TOUR: Funny Girl (Nick Arnstein).


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