Rex Reason, star of This Island Earth, dead at 86

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Actor Rex Reason, probably best known among movie fans for his appearances in two Universal sci-fi films from the 1950s, has died at the age of 86. Reason’s best known role was as scientist Dr. Cal Meacham in the classic This Island Earth, and he also played another man of science in the final Creature From the Black Lagoon movie The Creature Walks Among Us.

Reason was born in Los Angeles and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse for three years starting in 1948. He came to the attention of Hollywood and was given a screen test at Columbia Pictures in 1951. He was given his first credited role in 1952’s Storm Over Tibet, but appeared in uncredited roles in Saramouche and Models, Inc. prior to that film. After his role in Salome with Rita Hayworth, Reason moved to Universal in 1953, where he made two films under the name Bart Roberts before demanding to use his given name (which sounds more like a screen name than the one they gave him).

Reason went on to appear in several more films and television series throughout the remainder of the 1950s and into the early 1960s. His films include Taza, Son of Cochise and Yankee Pasha (as Bart Roberts), Smoke Signal, Kiss of Fire, Lady Godiva of Coventry, Raw Edge, Badlands of Montana, Band of Angels, Under Fire, The Rawhide Trail, Thundering Jets, and The Miracle of the Hills.

TV appearances include roles on Lux Video Theatre, Allen in Movieland, Matinee Theatre, The Millionaire, Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, Conflict, The Web, Trackdown, Man Without a Gun, 77 Sunset Strip, Bronco, Sugarfoot, The Alaskans, The Roaring 20’s, Perry Mason and Wagon Train.

Reason walked out on his Warner Brothers contract in 1961 when he was being considered for the lead in The Manchurian Candidate, which began as a WB project. The film was completed as an independent feature and was released by United Artists in 1962. Laurence Harvey took the role Reason was going to play.

After his acting career ended, Reason worked as a real estate broker and enjoyed a second career as a voice-over artist. He was the brother of actor Rhodes Reason (who appeared in everything from Sky King to King Kong Escapes to Here’s Lucy) who died in December 2014. Reason was retired and lived in Walnut, CA with his wife Shirley.


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