Edwards, Vincent

Edwards, Vincent
(July 9, 1928–March 11, 1996)
   Broadway, television, and motion picture actor Vince Edwards who portrays Val Cannon in THE KILLING (1956), also made his mark as a recording artist, nightclub headliner, and director, but Edwards is unquestionably best remembered for his starring role in the hit ABC dramatic series Ben Casey, which ran from 1961 to 1966. His portrayal of the handsome, brooding, brilliant but troubled brain surgeon brought him accolades and worldwide recognition. Ben Casey’s producer described the title character as “a tender hunk of rock”; Edwards himself called Casey “a no-nonsense, rough-hewn doctor with no bedside manner whatsoever. ”The dedicated but difficult Dr. Casey’s idealism often pitted him against the medical establishment on the show, but fortunately his mentor, Dr. Zorba (Sam Jaffe), was always on hand for guidance. A review in Time said that Ben Casey “accurately captures the feeling of sleepless intensity in a metropolitan hospital. ” Edwards reprised his most famous character in a 1988 TV movie, The Return of Ben Casey. Apparently, Vince Edwards was one of the few actors who maintained a social relationship with STANLEY KUBRICK after having completed a film with him. According to VINCENT LOBRUTTO, in the early 1960s Edwards regularly played poker with Kubrick, along with JAMES B. HARRIS, CALDER WILLINGHAM, Martin Ritt, and Everett Sloane. JOHN BAXTER reports,“Kubrick handed out copies of Yardley’s Education of a Poker Player to friends like Vince Edwards, and urged them to use its tables of when to bet and when to fold. ”
   Born Vincent Edward Zoine, one of seven children of Italian immigrants Vincenzo and Julia Zoine, he attended public schools 155 and 73 in Brooklyn, New York, and at East New York High School he was captain of the swimming team. From the age of 14, he worked during the summers as a lifeguard at Coney Island, except for one summer when he worked with his father, a bricklayer, on New York’s Eighth Avenue subway line, wielding a pickax for 10 hours a day.
   A New York State swimming champion, young Vincent was also a member of the 1947–1948 national swimming team. His prowess won him an athletic scholarship to Ohio State University. In his junior year, he transferred to the University of Hawaii, noted for its aquatic champions. However, he missed the finals of the national swimming championships due to acute appendicitis.
   Much of his extracurricular time in college had been devoted to amateur theater, and while recuperating from his appendectomy, he decided to leave the University of Hawaii to pursue acting. He studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where his classmates included Grace Kelly, Anne Bancroft, and John Cassavetes. In 1947 Edwards landed a small singing part in the hit Broadway musical High Button Shoes, and he toured with a road company in Come Back, Little Sheba. In 1951, producer Hal Wallis signed Edwards to a contract with Paramount Pictures, and for the next decade the actor essayed gangster roles in such “B” FILMS NOIR as City of Fear (1959), The Night Holds Terror (1955), Murder By Contract (1958), and The Killing. Television soon followed, and Edwards appeared in some 50 live TV shows in New York, including virtually all the major anthology series such as Philco Playhouse and General Electric Theatre, The Untouchables (1959), and Henry Fonda’s series The Deputy (1959, in a prophetic role as a frontier doctor).
   Starting in the 1960s, Edwards enjoyed a moderately successful singing career, eventually releasing six LPs, including the best-seller, Vince Edwards Sings. He also performed at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas and Harrah’s in Reno, and he broke house records at New York’s Copacabana and the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles.
   Edwards’s success as Ben Casey afforded him the opportunity to direct some episodes of the show. He continued in this vein and in the early 1970s wrote and directed the TV movie Maneater (1973), starring Ben Gazzara and Richard Basehart. Edwards went on to direct many top-rated television dramas of the 1970s and ’80s, including episodes of Fantasy Island, Police Story, and Battlestar Galactica.
   ■ “ABC Biography: Vincent Edwards,” publicity release,ABC-TV, New York, 1964;
   ■ “ABC Biography: Vincent Edwards,” publicity release, ABC-TV, New York, 1970;
   ■ Grimes,William,“Vince Edwards, 67, the Doctor In the Hit TV Series ‘Ben Casey,’” (obituary) New York Times, March 13, 1996, p. B-9;
   ■ “Vince Edwards: Biography,” press book for The Seduction, Avco Embassy Pictures, Los Angeles, 1982;
   ■ “Vincent Edwards,” (obituary) Variety, March 18, 1996, p. 54.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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