“Always a Bridesmaid” ... that’s what comes to mind whenever I think of Ralph Bellamy because he almost always lost the girl to the leading man. This was the case in films such as The Awful Truth (1937), Carefree (1938) and His Girl Friday (1940). Bellamy, who was born in Chicago on June 17, 1904, ran away from home at age 17 and joined a Shakespearean repertory company. He eventually landed in New York City where he began acting on Broadway and by 1927 Bellamy owned his own theatre company. Eventually he went to Hollywood where The Secret Six (1931), an MGM gangster thriller, was his film debut. Bellamy worked constantly throughout the decade first as a lead then as a capable supporting actor. In 1933 alone, he appeared in eleven movies. By 1945 Bellamy felt that he was in a Hollywood rut so he returned to an extremely successful career on Broadway. Since Bellamy was around at the very inception of television he had the opportunity to portray that medium’s first detective on the live action series “Man Against Crime (1949-1954). Among his greatest artistic achievements was his role as Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Broadway and in the film in Sunrise at Campobello (1960). Bellamy won both the New York Drama Critics Award and the Tony Award for his gripping performance in “Sunrise At Campobello”. In 1983, Bellamy reprised the role of FDR in the television mini-series The Winds of War. Some of his later roles, which may be best known to film audiences today, include a devil worshiper in the guise of a kind doctor, in Rosemary's Baby (1968), and as one the rather mean-spirited rich brothers (Don Ameche played the other brother) who tries to take advantage of Eddie Murphy in Trading Places (1983). His last role was in Pretty Woman (1990) with Julia Roberts. In 1987, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Bellamy with an honorary Oscar for his body of work. It was his only Oscar, though he had been nominated for a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Academy Award for his performance in The Awful Truth (1937).
Bellamy’s career spanned sixty-two years on stage, screen and television. He passed away on November 29 from a lung ailment.