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William Lee Tracy (April 14, 1898 – October 18, 1968) was an American actor.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he studied electrical engineering at Union College, and later served as Ensign in World War I. In the early 1920s he decided to work as an actor, becoming a star of the Broadway circuit thanks to his starring role in the work of George Kelly represented in 1924 The Show-Off.
In 1929 he came to Hollywood, where he played the role of a journalist in a number of films. In the theater he had been the reporter Hildy Johnson in the original 1928 version of The Front Page, and was a columnist similar to Walter Winchell in the 1932 film Blessed Event. Tracy was also a journalist on Advice to the Lovelorn (1933), loosely based on the novel Miss Lonelyhearts, written by Nathanael West.
He played Buzzard, the criminal who takes Liliom (Charles Farrell) to a fatal robbery, in the 1930 version of Liliom. He was also the frenetic manager of Lupe Velez in Gregory LaCava’s film The Half-Naked Truth (1932), and the following year he played actor John Barrymore at Cena at eight, directed by George Cukor.
His flourishing career was temporarily interrupted in 1934 while filming in Mexico Viva Villa !, a film in which Wallace Beery played Pancho Villa. Tracy urinated from a balcony in Mexico, D. F. while passing a military parade, was immediately fired from production and replaced by Stuart Erwin.
During the Second World War Tracy put on her uniform again, and in the 1950s she continued to work in movies and TV series, reaching first roles as in some of them, such as New York Confidential, being one of the actors who incarnated detective Martin Kane on television. He was also the President of the United States in the theatrical and cinematographic versions of The Best Man (1964), written by Gore Vidal. For his role as President Art Hockstader in that film, Tracy received his only Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.
Lee Tracy died in Santa Monica (California) from cancer on October 18, 1968. He was 70 years old. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Shavertown, Pennsylvania.
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