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Robert Armstrong


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Robert Armstrong (November 20, 1890 – April 20, 1973) was an American film actor best remembered for his role as Carl Denham in the 1933 version of King Kong by RKO Pictures. He uttered the famous exit quote, "'Twas beauty killed the beast," at the film's end. Months later, he starred as Carl Denham again in the sequel, Son of Kong, released the same year.

In the late 1950s, Armstrong appeared as Sheriff Andy Anderson on Rod Cameron's syndicated western-themed television series, State Trooper.


Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he studied to be a lawyer but gave it up to manage his uncle's touring companies. In his spare time he wrote plays which eventually led to his appearance in one of them. He served in WWI and found his uncle had died when he came back home. Armstrong went to London and in 1926 appeared on the stage for a season. In 1928, his screen career started when he appeared in Pathé's The Main Event.

Armstrong worked throughout the 1930s and 1940s for many studios. In 1937 he starred in the movies With Words and Music released by Grand National Films Inc.. Prior to World War II, in the early 1940s, Universal Pictures released Enemy Agent, about a plot to thwart the Nazis. In the film, Armstrong co-starred with Helen Vinson, Richard Cromwell, and Jack La Rue. Later, in 1942, Armstrong played again opposite Cromwell in Baby Face Morgan, a notable "B" effort for PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation). Later in that decade, Armstrong played another Carl Denham-like leading role, as "Max O'Hara," in 1949's Mighty Joe Young. This film was yet another stop-motion gorilla opus also made by the King Kong team of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and it was remade in 1998 with Charlize Theron.

Although King Kong in 1933 was the pinnacle of Armstrong's career, he appeared in 127 films between 1927 and 1964.


Armstrong died of cancer in Santa Monica, California. He and King Kong's co-producer, Merian C. Cooper, died within sixteen hours of each other.









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