From then on, he played type-cast small-time gangsters. Although this pint-sized actor started out in films often in innocuous college-student roles in mid-30s rah-rahs, playing alongside the likes of a pretty Gloria Stuart or a young, pre-"Oz" Judy Garland, casting directors would soon enough discover his flair for portraying intense neurotics or spineless double-dealers. The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 American film noir written and directed by John Huston in his directorial debut, based on the 1930 novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and indebted to the 1931 movie of the same name. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - watching "The Maltese Falcon" tells you why. As Spade seeks out the killer, he becomes entangled in a sinister plot to locate a priceless 16th century statuette, known as the Maltese Falcon. Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook Jr.) Have Gunsel, Will Travel . He was married at least twice, but according to the nursing home where he died, Mr. Cook, a longtime resident of Bishop, Calif., left no immediate survivors. Enlisted in US Army on 8/15/1942. This was written as an obit fifteen years ago. He continued to give wonderfully memorable performances in such films as Electra Glide in Blue (1973) and Carny (1980) far into advanced age. Height and weight at enlistment given as 5' 5" and 123 lb. All this and Elisha Cook, Jr and Sydney Greenstreet as greedy criminals - both shining as the puppet and the puppeteer. Education given as three years of high school. He is also remembered for the sexual innuendo in his scene as the mysterious drummer Cliff March in Phantom Lady (1944). Actors Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre pose for a publicity still for the Warner Bros film 'The Maltese Falcon' in 1941 in Los Angeles, California. ... Huston directed Cook in the 1941 film Maltese Falcon, where he gave his most famous performance— and his own personal favorite —as the … "I played rats, pimps, informers, hopheads and communists," he once said, recalling that as a character actor generally assigned to subsidiary roles, he had to take what was offered. He appeared in movies through the early 1980s and in many TV shows during the rest of the decade. This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. Cook is great here as a cab driver that corrects Hammett on the correct use of the word gunsel. Although this pint-sized actor started out in films often in innocuous college-student roles in mid-30s rah-rahs, playing alongside the likes of a pretty Gloria Stuart or a young, pre-"Oz" Judy Garland, casting directors would soon enough discover his flair for portraying intense neurotics or spineless double-dealers. Sidney Greenstreet, from the Theatre Guild's roster, is magnificent as a cultivated English crook, and Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook Jr., Lee Patrick, Barton Mac-Lane all contribute stunning characters. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - watching "The Maltese Falcon" tells you why. View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro, My favorite supporting actors and actresses, Actors having most appearances in IMDb top 250. His film career, including his later television roles, lasted almost 60 years. |  His best-known role was that of Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon (1941), the gunsel to whom Bogart spat: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter". Bill Takacs . - IMDb Mini Biography By: The Maltese Falcon (1941) - Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer Cook - IMDb. The year before "The Maltese Falcon," for example, he had appeared in "Stranger on the Third Floor," generally regarded as the first American film noir. Diminutive, wiry character player memorable for his numerous roles as cowardly villians and neurotics. - IMDb Mini Biography By: What imprinted Mr. Cook's image on the moviegoers' consciousness, however, was not his dialogue, but his haunting look of frustrated hate after being disarmed by Bogart and humiliated in front of his boss. Look for a cameo by Jack Nance portraying Elisha Cook Jr. in The Maltese Falcon. With Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook Jr. Buy the DVD • Buy the Blu-ray • Watch on Amazon Video • Watch on iTunes • Watch on Vudu He was the last surviving cast member of John Huston's 1941 film noir classic, whose company included Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Mary Astor. All this and Elisha Cook, Jr and Sydney Greenstreet as greedy criminals - both shining as the puppet and the puppeteer. Or gunsel, a word Spade uses to describe Wilmer. Elisha Cook Jr., the shifty-eyed movie gangster who often fell victim to his own violence and will forever be remembered as Wilmer in “The Maltese Falcon,” has died. At age 91, he was the last surviving member of the "Falcon" cast. He made an appearance just three weeks ago in San Francisco, where the movie and the Dashiell Hammett novel had been set. The Maltese Falcon, lobbycard, from left: Elisha Cook Jr, Sydney Greenstreet, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor on lobbycard, 1941. After more work on Broadway, he settled in Hollywood in 1936. He attended St. Albans College and the Chicago Academy of … Actor Elisha Cook who played Wilma the Gunsel in the 1941 Maltese Falcon movie gifted one of these plaster props to Konstin where it sat on display for years before having its case smashed and being made off with by some low life criminal. Spade demands that Gutman explain about the statue, and when he does not, Spade storms out only to be brought back later by Gutman’s hired gun, Wilmer (Elisha Cook, Jr.). Maltese Falcon, The (1941) -- (Movie Clip) A Guy Named Thursby Summoned from his bed at 2 a.m., San Francisco private eye Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), with thus far friendly copper Polhaus (Ward Bond), at the scene of the murder of his partner Archer, written and directed by John Huston from the Dashiell Hammett novel, in The Maltese Falcon, 1941. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Guys called a lot, perhaps because Mr. Cook had a reputation for being present at the creation of Hollywood legends. "They're gonna be pickin' iron out of your liver.". In Warners' They Won't Forget (1937), for example, he plays the role of a student whose social engagement with a young Lana Turner, debuting here in a featured role, seems to have been broken by her whereas, possibly unbeknownst to him, she has quite mysteriously been murdered. The Black Bird (1975), a spoof sequel, featuring George Segal as Sam Spade, Jr. (Elisha Cook Jr. and Lee Patrick reprised their roles from the 1941 film.) Huston directed Cook in the 1941 film Maltese Falcon, where he gave his most famous performance— and his own personal favorite —as the gunsel Wilmer, a skittery foil for Humphrey Bogart’s unflappable Sam Spade.Throughout the film Spade taunts Wilmer, impotent in these confrontations even though he is capable of killing. Appears in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Has appeared in seven films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: He would play characters that could be completely passive and scared or entirely cold-blooded: each to their own extreme. He was the satanic apartment manager in "Rosemary's Baby" (1968). Today I rewatched a few minutes of They Won’t Forget and thought, let’s have a little remembrance for an indispensable man. Wilmer is Gutman's lackey. He made his film debut in the film version of Her Unborn Child (1930), but did not make the transition to full-time film actor until 1936. Elisha Cook Jr., whose intense, bug-eyed portrayal of Wilmer, the psychotic, baby-faced killer in "The Maltese Falcon," made him a cult figure to a generation of moviegoers, died on Thursday at a nursing home in Big Pine, Calif. He suffered a loss of speech due to a stroke in 1990. I posted the piece on The Maltese Falcon last week. Mr. Cook also appeared in Judy Garland's first movie, "Pigskin Parade," (1936) and in Marilyn Monroe's first starring film, "Don't Bother to Knock" (1952). Biography in "Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir" by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry. and "Her Unborn Child". Elisha Cook Jr., Villain in Many Films, Dies at 91, https://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/21/obituaries/elisha-cook-jr-villain-in-many-films-dies-at-91.html. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - watching "The Maltese Falcon" tells you why. - IMDb Mini Biography By: He was the "hophead jazz drummer" in "Phantom Lady" (1944). Maybe so, but few actors could claim to have played as many memorable roles in as many recognized classics or to have become the answer to so many Hollywood trivia questions. Mr. Cook, who portrayed so many lowlife characters with such conviction that "Elisha Cook-like" became a catch phrase among casting directors and movie reviewers, liked to point out that he got the part of Wilmer simply because he had the same agent as Huston and Bogart. Jim Beaver , Other Works He was 91. On their second meeting, Gutman tells Spade about the statue—a jewel-encrusted falcon with a storied history. He received his nickname "Hollywood's Lightest Heavy" from playing cowardly villains in his movies. "I didn't have the privilege of reading scripts. The Outfit (1973) Dir: John Flynn. But to dedicated fans who never leave the theater until the last credit has rolled, none were as memorable as his role as "Wilmer the gunsel," Sydney Greenstreet's bodyguard in "The Maltese Falcon," in part, perhaps, because much of the dialogue was lifted directly from the Hammett novel. "The Maltese Falcon," which was dismissed as a Grade B picture when it was released, was Greenstreet's first movie. Since he was very slightly built, he has been referred to as the screen's lightest heavy. |  He appeared in vaudeville and stock and on Broadway "Lightnin'", "Kingdom of God", "Henry Behave", "Many a Slip", "Ah, Wilderness!" Thoroughly taken with her slinky allure, he enacts a drum-solo piece that is of such crescendo, and played with such innuendo, as to suggest - glaringly - nothing except his own fantasized sexual journey from cymbal foreplay through bass-drum climax. But the movie belongs to the everyman of cinema - Humphrey Bogart. A native of San Francisco who grew up in Chicago, Mr. Cook was a traveling actor in the East and Midwest before going to New York, where Eugene O'Neill picked him to play the juvenile lead in "Ah Wilderness!," which ran on Broadway for two years. Toadie. "Keep on riding me," Mr. Cook tells Humphrey Bogart at one point. Elisha Cook Jr. (14) Lee Patrick (13) Gladys George (10) Jerome Cowan (8) John Huston (3) Walter Huston (3) Creighton Hale (1) James Burke (1) John Hamilton (1) Other. ". All this and Elisha Cook, Jr and Sydney Greenstreet as greedy criminals - both shining as the puppet and the puppeteer. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. Guys called me up and said, 'You're going to work tomorrow.' Publicity Listings He offers Spade a large sum of money to secure it, but Spade’s drink has been drugged, and he passes out before he can accept. Mr. Cook had been disabled since suffering a stroke five years ago. Thus was he graduated from the innocuous to the noxious. There have been two audiobooks of the novel: The Maltese Falcon (2001), a "full-cast dramatisation" by BBC Radio 4, featuring Jane Lapotaire and Tom Wilkinson, was published as an audiobook. Elisha Cook Jr., 91, the diminutive character actor who played the hired gun humiliated by Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon" and the homesteader shot … He debuted on stage at age 14 and worked in vaudeville, stock companies and Broadway. His appearance of timidity and wistfulness was counterbalanced by a surprising ferocity, and he quickly became a staple in movies playing both sympathetic and vicious characters. Elisha Cook Jr., whose intense, bug-eyed portrayal of Wilmer, the psychotic, baby-faced killer in "The Maltese Falcon," made him a cult figure to a … His only film appearance prior to 1936 was re-playing his stage role, the romantic juvenile lead, in Her Unborn Child (1930). Stooge. He was the wife-bedeviled racetrack teller in Stanley Kubrick's first commercial feature, "The Killing" (1956). See the article in its original context from. Was an assistant stage manager at age 17. Bogart's investigation leads him to a crew of adventurous crooks, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Elisha Cook, Jr. who are in pursuit of a statue of a Falcon that is said to be encrusted in gold and precious jewels. It stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client. Ed Stephan . He was Jonesy, the lovesick loser forced to drink poison in "The Big Sleep" (1946). One of the most familiar character actors of the mid-twentieth century, small-statured Elisha Cook Jr. would be a Hollywood immortal if only for his roles in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Shane (1953). On their second meeting, Gutman tells Spade about the statue—a jewel-encrusted falcon with a storied history. Official trailer for The Maltese Falcon (2:42) The Maltese Falcon (1941). One of the most familiar character actors of the mid-twentieth century, small-statured Elisha Cook Jr. would be a Hollywood immortal if only for his roles in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Shane (1953). The Maltese Falcon is among the most important and influential movies to emerge from the Hollywood system - as significant in some ways as its contemporary, Citizen Kane.In addition to providing the cinema with a new kind of private investigator (move over, Nick and Nora Charles), The Maltese Falcon supplied an entirely new style by which to tell these kinds of stories: film noir. In Praise of Elisha Cook. Cinematic masterpiece stars screen-legend Humphrey Bogart ("Casablanca," "The African Queen") as private detective Sam Spade, a no-nonsense loner whose partner is killed while pursuing a case. He attended St. Albans College and the Chicago Academy of Dramatic Art, and made his stage debut at age fourteen. "If you look at the scene closely," Mr. Cook once said, "the tears are streaming down my face I'm so angry.". The Maltese Falcon Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook Jr.) Previous Next . Elisha Cook Jr. in “The Maltese Falcon”: an indispensable man. Directed and written by John Huston, from Dashiell Hammett’s novel. In The Maltese Falcon …Gutman’s hired gun, Wilmer (Elisha Cook, Jr.). Official Sites. Although he returned occasionally to the stage in such works as Bertolt Brecht's "Arturo Ui", and he worked frequently on television, his career was concentrated on the screen. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. After a very successful career of playing lightweight heavies and losers, he ended his career as a connected underworld boss who knew how to make things happen on. Elisha Cook Jr., Actor: Rosemary's Baby. But the movie belongs to the everyman of cinema - Humphrey Bogart. Married to his second wife, Peggy, for 25 years before they divorced. Mr. Cook, who made more than 100 movies, once claimed that he had appeared in more "B-for-bomb turkeys" than any other actor. Intense scared look (usually in his horror movies). In Universal's Phantom Lady (1944), he portrays a nightclub-orchestra drummer who, under the intoxicating influence of some substance or other, encounters Ella Raines during an afternoon's band practice. The Maltese Falcon is a milestone film role for Humphrey Bogart. But the movie belongs to the everyman of cinema - Humphrey Bogart. He lived in his later years in the desert near Bishop, California, far from Hollywood, without an agent, working whenever someone took the trouble to track him down. Cook becomes so enraged, venting such venom, that the movie audience can only look upon him as a prime suspect in Lana's demise. About three years later, they remarried and remained together for another 19 years until she passed away. 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