Solid character actor who also played a few action leads in 1950s films and TV. Tobey began playing bit parts shortly after WWII (a police photographer in Robert Siodmak's noir, "The File on Thelma Jordan," and a sentry in Henry King's war drama, "Twelve O'Clock High," both 1949). His first of a handful of leading roles in features came in one of his best-remembered films, the suspenseful science-fiction classic, "The Thing" (1951). As would be common for much of the rest of his career, Tobey played a dependable, unspectacular, heroic sort, in this case, the captain of a remote frozen outpost whose crew is being killed off by a thawed, murderous monster.
Further leading roles for Tobey came along only occasionally, and then mostly in similar fare (e.g. "It Came from Beneath the Sea" 1955). He did, however, provide sturdy support in Westerns, film noirs, and melodramas, including Otto Preminger's "Angel Face" (1952), Ida Lupino's "The Bigamist" (1953), John Ford's "The Wings of Eagles" (1956), and John Sturges' "Gunfight at the OK Corral" (1956). Tobey was also prominent in the many of the dramatic TV anthologies of the time like "Frontier" and "Panic!." He played Jim Bowie in support of Fess Parker in a series of one-hour "Davy Crockett" (1954-55) adventures, and starred opposite Craig Hill in his own series, "The Whirlybirds" (1954-57), in which the two men played daring helicopter rescue pilots.
Tobey has subsequently played supporting roles in many features through the 90s and kept busy on TV as well. He has played military men, police officers, and union leaders in films including "X-15" (1961), "Marlowe" (1968), "The Candidate" (1972), and "MacArthur the Rebel General" (1977). Tobey was one of the air traffic controllers in the hilarious "Airplane!" (1980), and Joe Dante affectionately used the veteran actor as the projectionist in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Feature film debut, "Dangerous Venture"
Played first leading role in features in one of his best-remembered films, the science-fiction classic, "The Thing/The Thing from Another World"
Played Jim Bowie in the five-part ABC adventure series, "Davy Crockett", starring Fess Parker in the title role
Last feature film for several years, "Stark Fear"
Played Dick on the short-lived CBS serial drama, "Our Private World", a primetime version of the network's daytime drama, "As the World Turns"
Returned to features in the Westerns, "The Long Ride Home" and "Forty Guns to Apache Pass"
First TV-movie, "Breakout"