Actor. He will be remembered for movies that he made from the 1940s to 1960s. Born Thomas Charles Sanders, he was the older brother of Oscar recipient for Best Supporting Actor, George Sanders. His parents were wealthy British citizens living in the Czar's Russian Empire before the Bolshevik Revolution. His father was a successful rope manufacturer with his family living on an estate. Upon escaping the revolution to England in 1917, the family lost most of their wealth, yet Tom and George, along with their younger sister Margaret, attended private English schools and college. After college, he went to Northern Rhodesia in Africa to mine gold, copper, and asbestos with little success. He returned to England to hold several positions before following his younger brother George in an acting career in local theaters. Both brothers were tall, handsome men with upper-class English accents; Tom sported a thin mustache. It was George that persuaded Tom to come to Hollywood. Not able to have two Sanders seeking work acting with the Actor's Guild, the brothers decided one would change their surname with a flip of a coin; Tom lost and changed his name to Conway. Years later, he was often confused with a much younger American TV actor, Tim Conway, of the 1960's “McHale's Navy.” He failed his film test, yet he signed a contract with MGM for bit parts including Mrs. Miniver” in 1942. His break came in the film “The Great Medder” in 1940. George was tiring of his role in “The Falcon,” a movie series, thus Tom began the series in 1942 with the episode, “The Falcon's Brother,” which both Tom and George appeared. Tom proved to be more successful than his brother in “The Falcon” making ten movies in the series. From 1946 to 1947, Tom had the ABC Radio series “Sherlock Holmes.” In 1951, he played on NBC Radio the last few episodes of “The Saint.” Other movies include “Tarzan's Secret Treasure” in 1941; “Cat's People” in 1942; Val Lewton's horror classic, “I Walked with A Zombie” in 1943; starring with Ava Gardner in “Whistle Stop” in 1946, “One Touch of Genius” with Ava Gardner and Eve Arden in 1948, “Painting the Clouds with Sunshine” and “Bride of the Gorilla” in 1951, and“Prince Valiant” in 1954. He accepted the part of a homicide detective Mark Saber in TV series, “Inspector Mark Saber-Homicide Detective” in 1951, which followed with him making several mystery films in England. He worked with George and his ex-sister-in-law Zsa Zsa Gabor in “Death of a Scoundrel” in 1956. With less studio work and more TV positions available, he had guest appearances on TV's “Rawhide” and“Adventures in Paradise in 1959, one in 1957 on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” and “Perry Mason” as his final TV appearance in 1964. In 1959 he had a reoccurring role as the boyfriend on “The Betty Hutton Show.” His last credited movie was “12 to the Moon” in 1960. In 1961 Tom and his second wife Queenie Leonard's voices were used in “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”. In 1964 ending his career, he had an uncredited part in “What a Way too Go!” Toward the end of his life, he was drinking heavily and going blind. Although very close at one time, George and Tom had drifted apart; his second wife had divorced him; and although he is credited with earning at least one million dollars, he was living alone in a cheap hotel room without even a phone. When this situation was made public, the world for a short time poured funds to him to have a better life. He did have cataract surgery before the time of intraocular lens implants, thus he had to wear thick-lens glasses, which was captured in newspaper photos. His health rapidly declined. After several hospitalizations, he was discharged to a friend's home where he soon died of liver failure. On February 8, 1960, he was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1617 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
Bio by: Linda Davis
1905–2002 (m. 1958)