Family & Companions
Stage and screen actor Edmund Purdom, a handsome leading man in his youthful heyday, enjoyed a brief and blazing moment of '50s Hollywood stardom, before withdrawing to Europe and a robust career of Italian giallo thrillers, sword-and-sandal sagas, and German Westerns. Purdom arrived on Broadway in 1951, in the vaunted company of powerhouse wedded thespians Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, performing Broadway productions of Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" and Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra." The actor, theater-trained from an early age, shone onstage and soon headed for Hollywood, starring in a string of lavish studio pictures, a pair of which are remembered more for the actors he replaced: Marlon Brando in the epic "The Egyptian" and tenor Mario Lanza in the musical "The Student Prince." Following the lively MGM musical "Athena," co-starring Debbie Reynolds and Linda Christian (whom he'd later marry), Purdom top-lined two additional studio misfires (the biblical drama "The Prodigal" and the adventure film "The King's Thief"), before retreating to Rome, where his career endured on European TV screens and films. He made notable appearances in the TV-movie roman-à-clef "Sophia Loren: Her Own Story," as famed director Vittorio de Sica (opposite Loren, of course), and in the star-studded 1964 romantic drama "The Yellow Rolls-Royce." A steady presence in low-budget horror films over the next four decades, Purdom tried his hand at directing the gruesome holiday chiller "Don't Open Till Christmas." He also starred as a Scotland Yard inspector on the trail of a psycho Santa killer.