Thursday, May 10, 2012

Miscellaneous: Obituary--Stuart Talcroft

(August 15, 1926 - February 7, 2012)

Playing chess with his father, circa 1934
Stuart Talcroft, last residing at 6433 Pine Valley Rd., in Santa Rosa, California’s Oakmont community, died on February 7, 2012, at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, at 8:10AM, following an extended battle with colorectal cancer. He was 85 years old. He is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Nancy A. Talcroft, and two sons, Ian M. Talcroft and Colin M. Talcroft, children by his previous wife, Barbara L. Talcroft. Stuart was born August 15, 1926, in Buffalo, New York, to Alfred Charles Talcroft, originally of London, England, and Marguerite Ethel Smale, their only child. Stuart grew up mainly in Kansas City, Missouri, attending elementary school and Westport High School in that city, near the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art (today known as the Nelson-Atkins Museum), about which he always spoke fondly. 

Hugging a B.O.A.C. aircraft model, circa 1959
After his initial retirement, he worked for several years for Malm Luggage in San Francisco and Corte Madera, California, but the bulk of his business career was with British Airways, having started in 1958 on the New York reservations desk when that airline was still British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C.). By 1965 he had become a Senior Sales Representative. He was named US Salesman of the Year in fiscal 1966/67, according to a résumé dating to the mid-1980s. In 1968, he became Deputy Sales Manager for British Airways, stationed in San Francisco. In 1970, he became a District Sales Manager, working in a number of regions of the US, with postings in Minneapolis, Hartford, Rochester, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Detroit. He retired from British Airways in 1985.

"First post-War car," a Pontiac convertible, circa 1947
Before starting a career in the travel industry, Stuart worked as an actor, associated with the ABC, NBC, and CBS broadcasting networks, with the Theater Guild, with Mutual Radio Broadcast Network, and Paramount Pictures. It was theater and film that truly interested him. His encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the cinema was well known among friends and family. A résumé from his acting days shows that he worked in radio (playing in episodes of Gunsmoke, Night Beat, Johnny Dollar, Line Up, Mr. President, Defense Attorney, Sky King, The Cisco Kid, and Red Ryder); in TV (appearing in Racket Squad and in Fireside Theater productions on film and making live appearances on Hawkins Falls, Hollywood Opening Night, Space Patrol, Hall of Fame, The Colgate Comedy Hour, and Hollywood Career); and on the stage (appearing opposite Agnes Moorehead in Come of Age, directed by Byron Kelley, in Jane Cowl’s touring production of Elizabeth the Queen, directed by Bievans Davis, and in summer and winter stock performances in La Jolla, Phoenix, Santa Monica, and at the Pasadena Playhouse, where he played 14 leads between 1948 and 1951. In summer and winter stock, he worked with performers including Vincent Price, Marsha Hunt, Victor Jory, Kurt Kasznar, Aldo Ray, and Teresa Wright. He worked as an actor during the 1955 summer stock season at the Chase Barn Playhouse, in Whitefield, NH, and was director there during the 1956 season).

Stuart served in the US Marines as a hospital corpsman in the Pacific Theater of WWII between 1944 and 1946, and was called for service with the fleet marine force during the Korean War. During both conflicts, he also worked as an entertainer on the Armed Forces Radio Service and in Special Services. Immediately after WWII, he spent a year working as a stage manager for the Martha Graham Dance Company. Between acting and his career with B.O.A.C./British Airways, Stuart worked briefly for Angel Records, today part of E.M.I.

Publicity photo, circa 1955
Stuart used to tell stories about his days as an entertainer, occasionally involving famous people—about a pleasant day spent with sculptor Isamu Noguchi moving sets for the Martha Graham Company, about Leonard Nimoy and Charles Bronson at the Pasadena Playhouse (he admired Nimoy's diligence and didn't think much of Bronson's talents), and one about riding around Hollywood with Victor Mature who had put a large phone in his car and pretended he was talking on it while driving—but mostly when watching films Stuart would point out largely unknown actors and actresses he had worked with. Watching old movies with him could be a lesson in the lesser-known personages of Hollywood.

Stuart was in many respects a self-taught man, but he was educated at Kansas City Junior College, in Kansas City, Missouri, and held an Associate Degree in Theater Arts from the Pasadena Playhouse (1950).

He had always said “Play Mahler at my funeral,” and he loved sailing. Although he was never able to indulge to his satisfaction the latter interest, the large library of books on sailing and the hand-built ship models he left behind are a testament to the depth of that interest. Stuart was cremated, according to his wishes. On March 18, his ashes were spread from a sailboat (The Hasty Heart) in San Francisco Bay, near Keil Cove, a recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 playing in the background.

Stuart Talcroft, 2009

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