Les Tremayne

Les Tremayne

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Les Tremayne, whose rugged good looks and mellifluous voice gave him a 75-year career on the stage, in TV, in films and especially on radio, died here of heart failure December 19. He was 90. MSTies will remember him for a memorable turn as "crazy old goat man" Norman Tolliver in episode 108- THE SLIME PEOPLE.

Born in London in 1913, Tremayne moved to America with his mother, actress Dolly Tremayne, when he was four years old, and they settled in Chicago. As a young man he performed in vaudeville but his distinctive voice soon led him to the emerging medium of radio, where he eventually became one of the medium's busiest performers, and one of its most recognizable voices. His radio career began in 1930, and his first big break came in 1936, when he substituted for Don Ameche in the leading role of a dramatic program. By the mid 1940s, he was shuttling between New York and Los Angeles, starring in too many programs to list. Among his most notable characters: He was the voice of Nick Charles on the mystery series "The Adventures of the Thin Man," and starred on "Lum and Abner," "The Falcon," and "One Man's Family." An example of how well known he was: He shared billing with up-and-coming entertainer Jackie Gleason on a program titled "The Jackie Gleason/Les Tremayne Show." He later hosted a morning talk show, "The Tremaynes," on WOR radio in New York.

In the 1950s, as the radio business began to decline, he turned his talents to film, appearing in a memorable role in 1953's "War of the Worlds." Other notable roles included "Forbidden Planet" (1956) (he was the uncredited narrator), "The Angry Red Planet" (1959), "North by Northwest" (1959) and "The Fortune Cookie" (1966).

He was also busy on the small screen, from 1958's "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" to 1974's "Shazam!"

Soap opera fans will remember his 1987 stint on "One Life to Live" as Victor Lord and his 1988 role on "General Hospital" as Edward Quartermaine. He guest starred on many TV series, including: "Perry Mason," "The Rifleman," "Wagon Train," "Rawhide," "The Andy Griffith Show," "Mister Ed," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "The Virginian" and "The Dukes of Hazzard." He was a founding member of AFTRA radio performers union; and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.

"How I was able to attain whatever status I enjoy, with meager education and no powerful or influential friends to assist me, remains a mystery to me," he said in a 1991 interview. "Stubborn perseverance, I guess. Were it possible to live it over, I would change very little. I've been privileged to work in radio in the 'Golden Days.' Nothing can top that."

(Editor's note: We had the chance to contact Les shortly before his death, and were able to send him a copy of episode 108 for his perusement. We heard he and his wife Joan watched the tape and enjoyed it, but he admitted that he could not remember anything about the making of "The Slime People." In a 75-year career, one small film role is hard to recall.)