|Name:||John Warren Hull|
|Born:||January 17, 1903|
|Died:||September 14, 1974|
John "Warren" Hull (January 17, 1903-September 14, 1974) was an actor and TV personality, active from the 1930s through the 1960s. He was one of the most popular serial actors in the action-adventure field.
Life and Work[edit | edit source]
A native of Gasport, New York, Hull attended New York University. Later, he left college to study voice and persue a career in opera and operettas. He also worked frequently as a radio announcer.
The handsome Hull made his screen debut in 1934 for Educational Pictures, a short-subject studio. He co-starred opposite singer Sylvia Froos in the "Young Romance" series of musical comedies filmed in New York; Hull often joined Froos in song. In 1935, Hull signed a contract to Warner Brothers, and spent the next few years playing leading men both in dramas and musicals.
His best appearance of this period came in The Walking Dead (1936), a horror movie starring Boris Karloff and directed by Michael Curtiz. Some of Hull's early appearances have him billed as "J. Warren Hull".
When his Warners contract expired, Hull had no trouble finding work at other studios. He teamed with Patricia Ellis, one of his leading ladies at Warners for the Republican Pictures musical Rhythm in the Clouds (1937). He also played romantic leads in a string of features for Monogram Pictures.
In 1938, Columbia Pictures terminated its association with the Weiss Brothers, independent producers who had been making adventure serials for Columbia release and decided to make its own cliffhangers. Hull was sign for Columbia's first (and probably best) serial production, The Spider's Web (1938), based on a popular magazine character. Hull played three parts: criminologist Richard Wentworth, his masked-and-caped alter ego The Spider and in a second masquearade, lowlife mobster Blinky McQuade. The personable Hull brought a breezy sense of humor to his serial roles; he is probably the only serial hero who ever laughs on screen. Hull kept audiences following the Spider's thrilling exploits, making The Spider's Web the most popular and profitable serial of the year; outstripping such worthy cliffhangers as Buck Rogers and Dick Tracy Returns by a wide margin, according to a tally published in the Motion Picture Herald.
Pleased with Hull's performance, Columbia cast him as Mandrake the Magician in its 1939 serial. Universal Pictures starred the now-established serial hero in The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (1941) and Columbia put him back in the mask and cloak for The Spider Returns (1941).
In the mid-1940s, Hull returned to radio announcing, appearing with frequency on such programs as Your Hit Parade and Vox Pop. Hull was also the emcee of Spin to Win, only the second game show created by the team of Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. During the next two decades, he hosted TV programs such as: Top Dollar, Who in the World, Beat the Odds and Public Prosecutor. He is best remembered as the host of Strike it Rich.
Hull died in Waterbury, Connecticut at the age of 71 of heart failure. He is honored with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.