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Robert William Armstrong (1890-1973)
Popular Hollywood actor, in 1933, starred in "King Kong" movie.
By Marvin Kusmierz (April, 2011)

Robert Armstrong was born on November 20, 1890, at Saginaw, Michigan, to William and Minnie (Lahman) Armstrong. His paternal grandparents were Richard and Harriet E. (Scott) Armstrong. Robert's father was born in St. Clair, Michigan, and around 1870, the family moved to Bay City. His grandfather, who had extensive experience in sailing, started up a vessel business at Bay City, that included passenger boats and tug boats, which provided work for the his sons as they were of age. The only girl in the Amrstrong family was Robert's aunt Cholula. The youngest of the boys, was his uncle Paul, who later on left the vessel business to become a writer. Robert's maternal grandparents were Charles and Mary (Hayes) Lahman.

Robert Armstrong, eventually followed in the steps of his Uncle Paul, but not before moving to Seattle, Washingtion with his parents. In 1913, Robert entered the University of Washington, intent on getting a law degree, however, he never comleted his course, instead he aborted his educational path, and moved to New York City to join up with his Uncle Paul, who had become successful playwright. During this period of time he was doing well, and he even dabbled some in writing a few plays of his own. Life was pretty good for him until World War I broke, and he was called on to serve in the infantry. He was a lieutenant when is was discharged. He was shocked to learn that his uncle Paul had died. With the option no longer joining his uncle's business, his turned his attention to acting.

Next Robert is found London, where in 1926, he was acting in stage plays, then in 1928, he his first break in films came when he landed a role in Pathe's “The Main Event.” From that point on his acting career continued to grow, working for various studios – the Grand National Films Inc., Universal Pictures and Producers Releasing Corporation. While he appeared in over 127 movies, he is best remembered for his 1933 co-starring role in “King Kong.” In 1949, he starred in another gorilla sequel called “Mighty Joe Young.“

While Robert had much good fortune in the film industry, his marital affairs were just the opposite. He was married five times! His first marriage was in 1919 to Peggy Allenby, which ended with a divorce in 1925. He then married Jeanne Kent, with the same results. A third marriage took place at Yuma, Arizona in January, 1936, to Gladys Duboise, and it lasted until December, 1938. His last one was to Claire Louise Frisby on January 1, 1940. This one was quite odd as Claire was formerly married to his uncle Rolf, who was a highly successful commercial artist, famous for his pin-up girls which appeared on the covers of magazines and music sheets. I'm sure the two, at least before this marriage, spent some time together, as Rolf had quite a few friends in Hollywood.

Robert lived a full life, I suspect he never regretted his decision to give up being a lawyer for the fame of being a Hollywood actor. About the only regret he might have had is that his father never saw him on the big screen, he died in 1921. Robert died of cancer on April 20, 1973, at Santa Monica, California, and is buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

King Kong Movie Trailer.

Footnote:


Cook's 1906 expedition to Mt. McKinley, Alaska.

Robert's father, William, who was interested in mining for gold in Alaska, was a member of Frederick Cook's second expedition to Mount McKinley, in 1906. Cook proclaimed success in reaching the peak, but others contested he had done so. William as a witness to events of the exploration was called upon to state his opinion, which he did in an article he wrote which was published by [The New York Times, Oct. 15,1909]

List of Movies Robert W. Anderson appeared in:

1927: The Main Event.

1928: Show Folks, Celebrity, The Leatherneck, Square Crooks, The Girl in Every Port, Cop, The Baby Cyclone, The Leopard Lady.

1929: Oh, Yeah!, Ned McCobb's Daughter, Big News, Woman from Hell, The Racketeer, The Shady Lady.

1930: Dumbbells in Ermine, Big Money, Paid, Be Yourself, Danger Lights.

1931: The Tip-Off, Suicide Fleet, Iron Man, Ex-Bad Boy.

1932: Hold 'em Jail, The Billion Dollar Scandal, The Most Dangerous Game, Panama Flo, The Penguin Pool Murder, Radio Patrol, The Lost Squadron, Is May Face Red?

1933: Son of Kong, I love That Man, Fast Workers, King Kong, Blind Adventure.

1934: Kansas City Princess, Search for Beauty, She Made Her Bed, Palooka, Manhattan Love Song, The Hell Cat, Above the Clouds.

1935: Little Big Shot, Fliritng with Danger, Sweet Music, G-Men, Remember Last Night, The Mystery Man, Gigolette.

1936: All-American Chump, Public Enemy's Wife, The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, Dangerous Waters, Without Orders.

1937: Nobody's Baby, She Loved a Fireman, The Girl Said No, It can't Last Forever, Radio Patrol (serial), The Three Legionnaires, With Words and Music.

1938: The Night Hawk, There Goes My Heart.

1939: The Flying Irishman, Unmarried, Winter Carival, Flight at Midnight, Man of Conquest, Call a Messenger.

1940: Behind the News, Framed, Forgotten Girls, Enemy Agent, The Bride Wore Crutches, Meet the Fleet.

1941: Sky Raiders (serial), Citadel of Crime, Dive Bomber, Mr. Dynamite, San Francisco Docks.

1942: It Happended in Flatbush, Let's Get Tough!, Gang Busters, My Favorite Spy, Babe Face Morgan.

1943: The Mad Ghoul, Adventures of the Flying Cadets (serial), Wings Over the Pacific, The Kansan, Around the World.

1944: Belle of the Yukon, Action in Arabia, Goodnight Sweetheart, The Navy Way.

1945: The Falcon in San Francisco, The Royal Mounted Rides Again, Arson Squad, Gangs of the Waterfront, Blood on the Sun.

1946: G. I War Brides, Decoy, Blonde Alibi, Criminal Court, Gay Blades.

1947: The sea of Grass, Exposed, Fall Guy.

1948: The Paleface, The Fugitive, Return of the Bad Man.

1949: Streets of San Francisco, Mighty Joe Young, The Lucky Stiff, Captain China, Sons of New Mexico, The Crime Doctor's Diary.

1950: Destination Big House.

1952: The Pace That Thrills.

1955: Las Vegas Shakedown.

1956: The Big Money, The Peacemaker.

1958: The Crooked Circle, Perry Mason: The Case of the Sardonic Sergeant, Have Gun, Will Travel: The Hanging of Roy Carter.

1961: Perry Mason: The Case of the Malicious Mariner.

1962: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Faith of Aaron Manefee, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: House Guest, Perry Mason: The Case of the Playboy Puglist.

1963: Johnny Cool.

1964: Perry Mason: The Case of the Accosted Accountant, For Those Who Think Young.

Additional Notes.

    1870 - Census: St. Clair, St. Clair, Mich.

  • Armstrong, Richard - b. 1840 Canada
  • Harriet, wife - b. 1847 Mich.
  • William M., son - b. 1866 Mich.
  • Chilula, dau. - b. 1868 Mich.
  • Paul, son - b. 1869 Missoui

    1880 - Census: West Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Armstrong, Richard - b. 1840 Canada
  • Harriet, wife - b. 1847 Mich.
  • William, son - b. 1866 Mich.
  • Cholula, dau. - b. 1868 Mich.
  • Paul, son - b. 1870 Missouri

    1888 - Michigan Marriages: Portsmouth, Bay, Mich.

  • Date Jan. 12, 1888.
  • Groom: William N. Armstrong, b. 1866, St. Clair, Mich., son of Richard J. Armstrong and Harriet E. Scott.
  • Bride: Minnie A. Lahman, b. 1868, Rochester, NY, daughter of Charles Lahman and Mary Hayes.
  • Official: Roland Woodham, minister.
  • Witnesses: Richard and Harriet Armstrong.

    1890 Michigan Births: Saginaw, Saginaw, Mich.

  • Robert Armstrong, son of William and Minnie Armstrong, was born Nov. 20, 1890.

    1900 - Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Armstrong, William - b. May 1866, Mich. (son of Richard & Harriet)
  • Minnie A., Wife - b. Feb. 1868 New York
  • Robert W., son - b. Nov. 1891 Mich.
  • Lahaman, Charles, father-in-law - b. Jul. 1830 Germany.

    1910 - Census: Seattle, King, Wash.

  • Armstrong, Wm. Noah - age 43, b. Mich. (son of Richard & Harriet)
  • Minnie L., wife - age 42, b. New York
  • Robert W., son - agte 19, b. Mich.
  • Henry, Maude M., neice, age 23, b. Mich.

    1921 - Washington Deaths: Seattle, King, Washington.

  • William N. Armstrong, son of Richard Armstrong and Harriet E. Scott, died Jan. 20, 1921.
Robert Armstrong

Robert W. Armstrong

Uncle Rolf Amrstrong

Fire Tug Geyser
One of the boats in the vessel line owned by his grandfather, Richard, which include passenger boats and tugs.
Related pages:
Armstrong, Wm. R. father
Armstrong, Richard g-dad
Armstrong, Paul uncle
Armstrong, Rolf uncle
Article: Armstrong Family
Theatre History
People Referenced
Allenby, Peggy (1-wife)
Armstrong, Cholula (aunt)
Armstrong, Paul (uncle)
Armstrong, Richard (g-father)
Armstrong, Rolf (uncle)
Armstrong, William. N. (father)
Cook, Frederick
Duboise, Gladys (3-wife)
Frisby, Claire L. (4-wife)
Hayes, Mary (g-mother)
Henry, Maud (cousin)
Kent, Jeanne (2-wife)
Lahman, Charles (g-father)
Lahman, Minnie A. (mother)
Pathe
Scott, Harriet E. (g-mother)
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
London, England
Grand National Films
Hollywood, CA
Los Angles, CA
Mount McKinley, AL
New York, NY
New York Times
Portsmouth, MI
Producers Releasing Corp.
St. Clair, MI
Saginaw, MI
Santa Monica, CA
Seattle, WA
Universal Pictures
Univ. of Washington
West Bay City, MI
World War I
Yuma, AZ
Internet Resources
Robert Armstrong:
  • Film Posters
  • Buy Movies
  • Films/Photos
  • YouTuge: King Kong
  • Find-A-Grave
    1933 - Joe Polooka:
    -- Story about a farm boy who made it big in boxing, starring Jimmie Durante as manager of Polooka, with Armstrong in featured role as Palooka's father.
  • {View Video]
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