Francis X. Bushman
Actor, director, writer
Francis X. Bushman
Francis Xavier Bushman was an American actor, film director, and screenwriter. His matinee idol career started in 1911 in the silent film His Friend's Wife, but it did not survive the silent screen era. Bushman, like many of his contemporaries, moved into the films from the stage. He was performing at Broncho Billy Anderson's Essanay Studios in Chicago, Illinois, when he was noticed for his muscular, sculpted torso.
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  • 1966
    Age 83
    In 1966, Bushman guest-starred on a two-part episode of Batman.
    More Details Hide Details Both Bushman and Neil Hamilton, his co-star in The Grip of the Yukon, appeared in the episode – their first such reunion in 38 years. Ironically, Bushman's role, as a wealthy collector of silent pictures and promoter of a silent film festival, was his last appearance on camera. Francis X. Bushman is mentioned numerous times by the character "Pearl Bodine" in the first season of the Beverly Hillbillies. In the episode entitled, "No Place Like Home," "Pearl" has written a song which she plays when the silent version of "Ben-Hur" is shown in the Clampett's hometown. In a later episode, when Pearl visits the Clampetts in Los Angeles, she speaks about hoping to meet Francis X. Bushman. In the episode "Jed's Dilemma," "Jed" takes the family on a sightseeing tour of Beverly Hills. When passing a fancy home, Pearl wonders if it could be the home of a movie star, possibly Francis X. Bushman. Jed tells her no, because he got a good look in the yard and didn't see room for horses or a chariot.
  • 1938
    Age 55
    After his film career had waned, Bushman made his broadcasting mark on the CBS Radio network's long-runningdramatic serial entitled Those We Love. In the soap opera, which ran from 1938 to 1945, Bushman played the role of John Marshall, a father of the twins (played by Richard Cromwell and Nan Grey).
    More Details Hide Details Robert Cummings rounded out the cast. In later years, he made guest appearances on television, playing roles on series such as: Burns and Allen, Peter Gunn, Make Room for Daddy, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Perry Mason and Dr. Kildare.
  • 1929
    Age 46
    Bushman was paid large salaries during his screen career, and donated the land upon which Sid Grauman erected his famous Chinese Theater. But his fortune was wiped out in the great crash of 1929, and his career as a movie star had had its run.
    More Details Hide Details Bushman eked out a living taking small roles in pictures (some of them good) and attempting to run a few small businesses. On viewing one of his early films, Bushman is said to have remarked, "My God, look at that! I'm putting all my emotion into my chin!"
  • 1925
    Age 42
    Bushman eventually retained the talented services of Harry Reichenbach as his agent. When Bushman noted that he would be well suited to starring in the upcoming 1925 film, Ben-Hur, Reichenbach had a plan to increase his client's marketability.
    More Details Hide Details He took Bushman to see studio executives from the railway station and dropped pennies to the street from his pocket. Lots of people followed them, picking up the coins and following them. The crowd gave the studio executives an impression that Bushman was very popular and cast him as Messala. Bushman was concerned that playing a villain would affect his career, so he asked the advice of William S. Hart who had played the part on stage for years. "Take it", Hart advised—"It's the best part in the play!" Unlike Ramon Novarro, the star of the picture, Bushman knew how to properly drive a team of horses and a chariot without getting severely injured or killed in the process. When Ben Hur was remade in 1959, Charlton Heston had to learn the technique and quipped "The only man in Hollywood who can drive a chariot is Francis X. Bushman—and he's too old!"
  • 1920
    Age 37
    He appeared in nearly 200 feature film roles - more than 175 films before 1920, and 17 in his screen debut year of 1911 alone.
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  • 1918
    Age 35
    In 1918, he was the subject of a national scandal as his affair with longtime costar Beverly Bayne became public.
    More Details Hide Details Three days after his divorce with Josephine was final, Bushman and Bayne were married; they would eventually have a son. Bushman and his studios had kept his marriage secret for fear of losing popularity. He was married four times.
  • 1915
    Age 32
    He also worked for the Vitagraph studio before signing with Metro in 1915.
    More Details Hide Details He was born in Baltimore, Maryland. As a young man Bushman joined the Maryland Athletic Club and began a body building regimen that would give him his famous film physique. He cited Eugen Sandow as one of his body building influences. In New York, he worked as a sculptor's model, often posing in the nude in sessions.
  • 1911
    Age 28
    His career as a matinee idol started in 1911 in the silent film His Friend's Wife.
    More Details Hide Details He gained a very large female following and was one of the biggest stars of the 1910s and early 1920s. Bushman, like many of his contemporaries, broke into the moving picture business via the stage. He was performing at Broncho Billy Anderson's Essanay Studios in Chicago, Illinois, where he was first noticed for his muscular, sculpted frame.
  • 1902
    Age 19
    In 1902, he married seamstress Josephine Fladine Duval.
    More Details Hide Details By the launch of his film career, the couple had five children.
  • 1883
    Age 0
    Born on January 10, 1883.
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