Sidney Alderman Blackmer
July 13, 1895
|Died||October 6, 1973 (aged 78)|
New York City, U.S.
|Other names||S.A. Blackmer|
(m. 1928; div. 1939)
|Awards||North Carolina Award, Fine Arts|
Sidney Alderman Blackmer (July 13, 1895 – October 6, 1973) was an American Broadway and film actor active between 1914 and 1971, usually in major supporting roles.
Blackmer was born and raised in Salisbury, North Carolina, the son of Clara Deroulhac (née Alderman) and Walter Steele Blackmer. He started in the insurance and financial counseling business but abandoned it. While working as a construction laborer on a new building, he saw a Pearl White serial being filmed and immediately decided to pursue acting as a career. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Blackmer went to New York, hoping to act on the stage. While in the city, he took jobs and extra work at various film studios at the then motion picture capital, Fort Lee, New Jersey, including a small role in the highly popular serial The Perils of Pauline (1914), his film debut.
He made his Broadway debut in 1917, but his career was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during World War I. After the war, he returned to the theatre. In 1919, Blackmer played a major role in the strike that led to the formation of the Actors' Equity Association. In 1929 he returned to motion pictures and went on to appear as a major character actor in more than 120 films.
He won the 1950 Tony Award for Best Actor (Drama) for his role in the Broadway play Come Back, Little Sheba, co-starring with Shirley Booth.
In film, Blackmer is remembered for his more than a dozen portrayals of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and for his role as the conniving Manhattan warlock Roman Castevet in the guise of one of many overly solicitous elderly neighbors of the pregnant titular character (played by Mia Farrow) in the Academy Award-winning 1968 Roman Polanski film, Rosemary's Baby.
A humanitarian, Blackmer served as the national vice president of the United States Muscular Dystrophy Association. He also helped found the North Carolina School of the Arts. In 1972, he was honored with the North Carolina Award in the Fine Arts category. It is the State of North Carolina's highest civilian award. On his death in 1973, Blackmer was interred in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Salisbury, North Carolina.
Blackmer was married to actress Lenore Ulric from 1928 to 1939. His second wife was actress Suzanne Kaaren, to whom he was married from 1943 until his death in 1973. He and Kaaren had two sons, one of whom, career federal prosecutor Jonathan Blackmer, has followed in his parents' footsteps in recent years by pursuing a second career in acting. In 1931 Blackmer purchased a home in Salisbury, today known as the Fulton-Mock-Blackmer House, which became the family seat for half a century.
For his contributions to the film industry, Blackmer has a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1625 Vine Street.
Blackmer also appeared in television roles, such as Don't Come Back Alive episode of the 1955 TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and "The Premature Burial" episode of the 1961 TV series Thriller. Blackmer also guest starred twice in the western TV series Bonanza in the episodes "The Dream Riders" (1961) and "The Late Ben Cartwright" (1968). Among his most notable roles was the character of Presidential candidate William Lyons Selby in the Outer Limits episode "The Hundred Days of the Dragon".