Lew Ayres

Lew Ayres

Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
Death 30 Dec 1996 (aged 88)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Memorial ID 1823 · View Source
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Actor. Born in Minneapolis and raised in San Diego, Lew Ayres was a college dropout, dance-band musician, still in his teens, when he was discovered by Hollywood talent scouts and made his film debut in The Sophomore (1929) and appeared opposite Greta Garbo in The Kiss that same year. His greatest role and one that had a profound affect on the actor in real life, was playing the patriotic, young German soldier in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Under contract to Universal, Ayres starred in Iron Man, Spirit of Notre Dame, (both 1931), The Impatient Maiden, Night World, Okay America! (all in 1932) and Don’t Bet on Love (1933), where he played opposite his soon to be wife, Ginger Rogers. A series of undistinguished films followed until 1938 when Ayres went to MGM to play an idealistic intern in Young Dr. Kildare, which launched a long and profitable series of films. Ayres teamed with Lionel Barrymore, who played his cantankerous mentor, and Laraine Day, as the nurse who loves him. The role seemed to suit Ayres’ thoughtful, quiet nature and he appeared in eight subsequent Kildare films, along with a few other MGM films, until the studio dropped him in 1942 when he announced that he was a conscientious objector, which was tantamount to treason during WWII. Americans were outraged and movie theatres vowed never to show his films again, but Ayres served with the Army as a medic, distinguishing himself under fire in the South Pacific and as a chaplain’s aid in New Guinea and the Philippines. His religious beliefs, not an aversion to danger, had compelled him to seek a non-combat role in the war. After the war, Ayres regained public favor in several fine films, including The Dark Mirror (1946), The Unfaithful (1947), and most notably, Johnny Belinda (1948), for which he received a best actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal as a kindly small-town doctor. He also reprised the role of Dr. Kildare for a radio series with Lionel Barrymore. Other notable film appearances include Advise and Consent (1962), The Carpetbaggers (1964), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) and Battlestar Galactica (1979). He also appeared in several television movies including The Questor Tapes (1973), Of Mice and Men (1981) and Cast the First Stone (1989).

Bio by: Craig Johnson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1823
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Lew Ayres (28 Dec 1908–30 Dec 1996), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1823, citing Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .