Elisha Cook, Jr (Elisha Cook)

Elisha Cook, Jr

Elisha Cook, Jr was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Elisha Vanslyck Cook, Sr., a pharmacist, and grew up in Chicago. He started in vaudeville and stock by the age of fourteen. He was a traveling actor in the East Coast and the Midwest before arriving in New York City, where Eugene O’Neill cast him in his play Ah, Wilderness!, which ran on Broadway for two years. Cook served in the United States Army during World War II. In 1930, Elisha Cook settled in Hollywood. After several small and/or uncredited roles, he began a long period playing weaklings or sadistic losers and hoods. Cook’s characters usually were killed off (strangled, poisoned or shot). Hollywood’s most notable fall guy for many years, he made a rare appearance in slapstick comedy in the cameo role of The Screenwriter in Hellzapoppin’ (1941). In Universal’s Phantom Lady (1944), he portrays a slimy, intoxicated nightclub-orchestra drummer to memorable effect. He had a substantial uncredited role as Bobo in I, the Jury (1953). Cook may best be remembered for playing Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon (1941), Other notable roles included the doomed informant Harry Jones in The Big Sleep (1946), a henchman (Marty Waterman) of the murderous title character in Born to Kill (1947), the pugnacious ex-Confederate soldier ‘Stonewall’ Torrey in Shane (1953), and George Peatty, the shady, cuckolded husband in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956). He appeared in William Castle’s horror film House on Haunted Hill (1959) and in Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

Elisha Cook appeared on American television. He played a private detective, Homer Garrity, in an episode of Adventures of Superman television series titled “Semi-Private Eye,” airing for the first time on January 16, 1954. That same year, on April 12, he guest-starred on NBC’s The Dennis Day Show. In 1960, he was cast in the episode, “The Hermit”, of the ABC sitcom The Real McCoys, with Walter Brennan. He appeared as Jeremy Hake in the episode “The Bequest” of the ABC western series, The Rebel (1960), starring Nick Adams. He appeared as Gideon McCoy in an episode entitled “The Night of the Bars of Hell” of The Wild Wild West (1966). He appeared in the second episode of ABC’s crime drama, The Fugitive. Elisha Cook made two guest appearances on the CBS courtroom drama series Perry Mason. In 1958, he played Art Crowley in “The Case of the Pint-Sized Client,” and in 1964, he played Reelin’ Peter Rockwell in “The Case of the Reckless Rockhound”. Cook played lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the Star Trek episode “Court Martial” (1967), Isaac Isaacson on the Batman television series, Weasel Craig in Salem’s Lot, and later had a long-term recurring role as Honolulu crime lord “Ice Pick” on CBS’s Magnum, P.I.. He also appeared in The Bionic Woman episode, “Once a Thief” (1977). Elisha Cook died of a stroke on May 18, 1995 in Big Pine, California, aged 91. He was the last surviving member of the main cast of The Maltese Falcon.

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  • December, 26, 1903
  • USA
  • San Francisco, California


  • May, 05, 1995
  • USA
  • Big Pine, California

Cause of Death

  • Stroke


  • Cremated

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