Actor Robert Cummings, the ever-youthful star of girl-chasing television comedies in the 1950s, died Sunday of kidney failure. He was 80.
Cummings died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital with family members at his bedside, spokeswoman Louella Benson said .Cummings is survived by his fourth wife, Janie, seven children and nine grandchildren.
Cummings appeared in more than 100 movies, but he was best known for his TV series "The Bob Cummings Show" in the 1950s.
He also was a health food guru, which brought about some of his several brushes with the law for fraud.
Cummings directed and starred in the "Bob Cummings Show" from 1952 to 1957, appearing as a light-hearted playboy photographer in perpetual search of pretty girls. He revived the show in 1962, playing a girl-chasing pilot.
Although he received five Emmy nominations for the series - one for Best Actor and four for Best Director - it was his performance in the television drama "Twelve Angry Men" that brought him an Emmy.
His television career included an early series, "My Hero," in 1951, and "My Living Doll" in 1964.
Some of Cummings' best acting was done off stage. Discovering there was little demand in the United States in the 1930s for unknown young American actors, while experienced English stage actors were held in awe, Cummings created a phony identity as an Englishman named "Blade Stanhope Conway."
He went to England, where he bribed the janitor of a theater undergoing renovation to put the words, "Blade Stanhope Conway in Shaw's Immortal Candida," on the marquee, then had his picture taken standing beneath it.
On stationery from a London hotel, he wrote a letter describing himself as the "youngest actor-author-manager-director-producer in England, the owner of the Hargate Repertory Company," and he sent it with the photograph to Broadway agents.
Luckily for him, he found an agent who did not know that "Candida" has no starring male role, and as Blade Conway, the Missouri-born Cummings played on Broadway and in the movies for five years, affecting an English accent.
"Conway" starred in everything from dramas to the Ziegfield Follies.
Five years later, the demand for English leading men waned, but westerns were big in Hollywood, so he became "Brice Hutchins," a Texas cowboy.
By the late 1930s, he was appearing under his own name in pictures including "Kings Row," "It Started with Eve," "Princess O'Rourke," "Moon Over Miami," "Dial M For Murder" and "Promise Her Anything."