biography

Born in Peoria, Illinois, on November 27, 1925, Marshall Thompson's father, a dentist, moved his family to Los Angeles at the start of the Great Depression to set up a practice. Acting in high school plays got Thompson noticed by talent scouts, and he got his start in films in 1944 when he was signed by Universal. The dearth of leading men during World War II, combined with Thompson's boy-next-door good looks, quickly netted him increasingly bigger and better roles. Thompson moved on and signed with MGM in 1946, giving him supporting roles in bigger-budget films and starring roles in the smaller-budgeted ones. During this period of his career, he was often cast in war films, westerns, and film noir thrillers. While at MGM, Thompson met Barbara Long, the sister of actor Richard Long, and the couple married in 1949.

Marshall Thompson

Handsome 1940s portrait of Marshall Thompson

Following the release of the Dick Powell noir drama The Tall Target in 1951, Thompson and MGM parted ways. Afterward, he freelanced at a number of studios, starring in more modestly produced films such as Port of Hell (1954; with Dane Clark and Marjorie Lord) and Crashout (1955; with William Bendix and Gloria Talbott). Thompson's first horror film was the Universal-International release Cult of the Cobra (1955; with Faith Domergue and Richard Long), and he eventually starred in several cult-classic horror and science fiction films, including Fiend Without a Face (1958) and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958; with Dabbs Greer). By the mid 1960s, Thompson was starring in family comedies such as Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965) and war films, including To the Shores of Hell (1966; with Richard Arlen).

the films of marshall thompson

Gallant Bess (1947)

Marshall ThompsonMarshall Thompson

From the MGM drama Gallant Bess

Mystery Street (1950)

Sally Forrest and Marshall Thompson

With Sally Forrest in the MGM film noir thriller Mystery Street

Dial 1119 (1950)

Marshall Thompson and Virginia Field

Deranged murderer Marshall Thompson slaps B-girl Virginia Field in the MGM film noir thriller Dial 1119

The Tall Target (1951)

Ruby Dee, Paula Raymond, and Marshall Thompson

From The Tall Target with Ruby Dee and Paula Raymond

Cult of the Cobra (1955)

Marshall Thompson and Faith DomergueFaith Domergue

From the Universal-International horror flick Cult of the Cobra. LEFT: With Faith Domergue. RIGHT: With Faith Domergue and Richard Long

To Hell and Back (1955)

Marshall Thompson

From the Audie Murphy war film To Hell and Back, released by Universal-International

Fiend Without a Face (1958)

Marshall ThompsonMarshall ThompsonMarshall Thompson

From the fun 1958 British-made science fiction film Fiend Without a Face. The film's special effects and chilling soundtrack make it a surprisingly effective horror thriller

Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965)

Marshall ThompsonMarshall Thompson

From the MGM release Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, a film co-written by Marshall Thompson

Around the World, Under the Sea (1966)

Shirley Eaton, Brian Kelly, Marshall Thompson, and Lloyd Bridges

From MGM's adventure flick Around the World, Under the Sea with Shirley Eaton, Brian Kelly, and Lloyd Bridges

To the Shores of Hell (1966)

Marshall Thompson

From Columbia's war film To the Shores of Hell. This is Thompson's second Vietnam war film; his first was A Yank in Viet-Nam, which he starred in and directed. Shot in 1961, Yank sat on the shelf until its 1964 release

Daktari (1966-1969 CBS TV Series)

Marshall Thompson

As Dr. Marsh Tracy in the CBS adventure series Daktari

George (1971)

Marshall Thompson

From the wholesome and entertaining George, co-written by Marshall Thompson and filmed in Switzerland. Much like Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, kids liked George because of its animal star, this time a St. Bernard

later years

Thompson's acting career remained strong throughout the 1960s, especially on television as the star of the 1966-1969 series Daktari. Following the cancellation of Daktari, from 1969 through 1971 Thompson narrated the NBC Saturday morning kids show Jambo. And in 1972, Thompson made one more stab at a TV series, this time with the Canadian series George, inspired by Thompson's 1971 film of the same name about a St. Bernard. After the series left the airwaves, Thompson acted in films and television only infrequently, preferring to spend much of his time working on wildlife footage for various projects. Sadly, Marshall Thompson passed away on May 18, 1992, at the age of 66. He was survived by his wife and daughter.

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filmography

FILM
Dallas: The Early Years (1986) with David Grant
White Dog (1982) with Kristy McNichol and Paul Bartel
The Formula (1980) with Marlon Brando and George C. Scott
Bog (1978) with Gloria DeHaven and Aldo Ray
Cruise Into Terror (1978) with Dirk Benedict, Hugh O'Brian, Christopher George, Lynda Day George, John Forsythe, Ray Milland, and Stella Stevens
The Turning Point (1977) with Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine
George (1971) with Jack Mullaney
Ride the Tiger (1970) with George Montgomery
To the Shores of Hell (1966) with Richard Arlen and Bob Dornan
Around the World Under the Sea (1966) with Shirley Eaton, Lloyd Bridges, David McCallum, Brian Kelly, Keenan Wynn, and Gary Merrill
Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965) with Cheryl Miller and Betsy Drake
The Mighty Jungle (1964)
A Yank in Viet-Nam (1964) directed by Marshall Thompson
No Man Is an Island (1962) with Jeffrey Hunter
Flight of the Lost Balloon (1961) with Mala Powers
First Man Into Space (1959) with Bill Nagy
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) with Ann Doran, Dabbs Greer, and Ray 'Crash' Corrigan
The Secret Man (1958)
Fiend Without a Face (1958) with Michael Balfour
East of Kilimanjaro (1957) with Gaby Andre
Lure of the Swamp (1957) with Jack Elam, Willard Parker, and Myron Healey
Down Liberty Road (1957) with Tommy Kirk; a promotional film for Greyhound
Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955) with Robert Stack, Jennifer Jones, and Chuck Connors
Battle Taxi (1955) with Sterling Hayden and Arthur Franz
To Hell and Back (1955) with Audie Murphy, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, David Janssen, Gregg Palmer, Brett Halsey, and Susan Kohner
Cult of the Cobra (1955) with Faith Domergue, Richard Long, David Janssen, Jack Kelly, William Reynolds, and Kathleen Hughes
Crashout (1955) with William Bendix, William Talman, Gloria Talbott, and Beverly Michaels
Port of Hell (1954) with Dane Clark, Carole Mathews, and Marjorie Lord
The Caddy (1953) with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Barbara Bates, and Donna Reed
The Rose Bowl Story (1952) with Vera Miles, Keith Larsen, Natalie Wood, and Ann Doran
My Six Convicts (1952) with Gilbert Roland and Charles Bronson
The Basketball Fix (1951) with John Ireland and Hazel Brooks
The Tall Target (1951) with Dick Powell, Paula Raymond, and Leif Erickson
Dial 1119 (1950) with Virginia Field, Andrea King, Keefe Brasselle, and William Conrad
Devil's Doorway (1950) with Robert Taylor and Paula Raymond
Mystery Street (1950) with Ricardo Montalban, Bruce Bennett, Jan Sterling, Sally Forrest, and Elsa Lanchester
Battleground (1949) with Ricardo Montalban, Van Johnson, and John Hodiak
Roseanna McCoy (1949) with Farley Granger, Joan Evans, Raymond Massey, and Richard Basehart
Command Decision (1948) with Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Cameron Mitchell, Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy, and John Hodiak
Words and Music (1948) with Perry Como, Mickey Rooney, Ann Sothern, Tom Drake, Cyd Charisse, and Betty Garrett
Homecoming (1948) with Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Anne Baxter, Cameron Mitchell, and John Hodiak
B.F.'s Daughter (1948) with Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin
The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947) with Van Johnson, Janet Leigh, and Jim Davis
Gallant Bess (1947) with Jim Davis, Chill Wills, and George Tobias
The Secret Heart (1946) with Claudette Colbert, Walter Pidgeon, June Allyson, Lionel Barrymore, Robert Sterling, and Patricia Medina
The Show-Off (1946) with Red Skelton, Marjorie Main, and Marilyn Maxwell
Bad Bascomb (1946) with Wallace Beery, Margaret O'Brien, and Marjorie Main
The Cockeyed Miracle (1946) with Frank Morgan and Keenan Wynn
They Were Expendable (1945) with John Wayne, Robert Montgomery, Cameron Mitchell, and Donna Reed
Twice Blessed (1945) with Preston Foster and Gail Patrick
The Valley of Decision (1945) with Gregory Peck and Greer Garson
The Clock (1945) with Judy Garland, Robert Walker, and Keenan Wynn
Blonde Fever (1944) with Mary Astor and Gloria Grahame
Reckless Age (1944) with Gloria Jean
Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout (1944)

TELEVISION SERIES
Centennial, 1978 NBC 12-episode miniseries. Thompson portrayed Dennis. Also featured in this series were Reb Brown, Raymond Burr, Robert Conrad, Jorge Rivero, and Clint Walker
George, 1972 TV series. Thompson portrayed Jim
Jambo, 1969-1971 Saturday morning TV series. Thompson served as host
Daktari, 1966-1969 CBS TV series. Thompson portrayed Dr. Marsh Tracy
Angel, 1960-1961 CBS TV series. Thompson portrayed Johnny Smith
World of Giants, 1959 CBS TV series. Thompson portrayed Mel Hunter

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Watch Marshall Thompson in the educational film Freedom Highway (1956)
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This page premiered July 8, 2003.
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