Robert Armstrong is familiar to old-movie buffs for his case-hardened, rapid-fire delivery in such roles as fast-talking promoters, managers, FBI agents, street cops, detectives and other such characters in scores of films—over 160—many of them at Warner Brothers, where he was part of the so-called “Warner Brothers Stock Company” that consisted of such players as James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Frank McHugh, Alan Hale and Humphrey Bogart, among others.
Although he could easily be taken for having grown up in a tough area of Brooklyn or the Bronx, he was actually from the Midwest. He was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1890, and his father owned a small and profitable flotilla of boats for use on Lake Michigan. Hearing the Siren call of the gold fields in late 19th-century Alaska, however, he packed up the family and headed west. A typical staging place to start north was in Washington state, and the family settled in Seattle. Rpbert spent a short hitch in the infantry during World War… read more