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Lee Bowman

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Lee Bowman
Lee Bowman.jpg
Bowman as Andy Anderson in The Impatient Years (1944)
Born(1914-12-28)December 28, 1914
DiedDecember 25, 1979(1979-12-25) (aged 64)
Years active1937–1968
Spouse(s)Helene Rosson Bowman
(m. 19??; his death 1979)

Lee Bowman (December 28, 1914 – December 25, 1979) was an American film and television actor. According to one obituary, "his roles ranged from romantic lead to worldly, wisecracking lout in his most famous years".[1]


Born in Cincinnati, Bowman dropped out of the University of Cincinnati Law School to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was spotted by a Paramount Pictures agent and went to Hollywood in 1934, but was not used at first.[2] Instead he worked as a radio singer and appeared in stock plays including The Old Lady Shows His Medals.[3]

Bowman eventually made his film debut in I Met Him in Paris (1937) for Paramount.[1] He worked at that studio for a while, then RKO, before moving to MGM.

The lack of leading men in World War II was a boost to Bowman's career and he co-starred with Rita Hayworth in Cover Girl and Jean Arthur in The Impatient Years. According to a film writer at the time, "his Hollywood career has not been spectacular but has gained him a large following."[3] He was signed by Columbia Pictures.

The Impatient Years was a hit and Bowman was described in late 1944 as "now a very hot commodity in Hollywood."[4] However, he never quite progressed beyond supporting female stars and his status as a leading man faded.

Bowman was a much in-demand radio actor, and also worked on Broadway. He was the original actor who played Lucille Ball's husband in the audition program serving as a pilot for My Favorite Husband, airing on CBS Radio July 5, 1948;[5] however, he was not available for the full series after CBS approved it, so when it debuted later that month it starred Ball and Richard Denning as the leads.[6] This series would later go on to spawn I Love Lucy for television in 1950, with Ball's real-life husband Desi Arnaz replacing Denning at Ball's insistence.[7]

After making his TV debut in The Silver Theatre in 1950,[8] he appeared regularly on television including several guest appearances in the television series Robert Montgomery Presents and Playhouse 90.[citation needed] On November 16, 1950, he starred in "Suppressed Desires" on The Nash Airflyte Theater.[9]

In the early 1950s, he became television's second Ellery Queen, stepping into the role after the first, Richard Hart, died unexpectedly of a coronary. Bowman hosted the short-lived game show What's Going On? on ABC in late 1954.

In 1961, he co-starred with Rocky Graziano in the private-eye series Miami Undercover, the first television series made in its entirety before being sold to a network. Bowman also guest-starred in The Fugitive.[10]

Media career

In his later career, Bowman was a pioneer in developing media training for the Republican leadership in Washington. In 1969 he was hired by the Nixon administration to help freshman representatives and politicians from marginal districts with their delivery, content and staging. (The job was described as being similar to Robert Montgomery's work with Dwight Eisenhower.[11]) He also served as Master of Ceremonies for the 1968 and 1972 conventions.[10]

From 1974 until his death, he was Chairman of the Kingstree Group, an international consulting firm, which offers communication advice to business and political leaders all over the world. Kingstree's global headquarters is now located in London, England. Bowman was responsible for developing the 'conversational' approach to spoken communication, which is recognized today as the only successful model for business and political presentations and media interviews.[12]

For fifteen years Bowman was communications consultant for Bethlehem Steel.[1]


He died from a heart attack in Brentwood, Los Angeles, on Christmas Day 1979, three days before his 65th birthday.

Bowman was married to Helene Rosson, Victor Fleming's step daughter. Their son, also called Lee Bowman, continued with the Kingstree Group.[12] Bowman also had a step daughter from an early marriage by Rosson.[2]

Selected filmography

Select theatre credits

  • The Magic and the Loss

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Suspense "I Won't Take a Minute"[13]
1952 Cavalcade of America A Thousand to One[14]
1953 Cavalcade of America The Secret Road[15]


  1. ^ a b c "Lee Bowman, Actor; Was a Star in Movies And TV Ellery Queen: Did Serious Roles on Broadway". New York Times. Dec 28, 1979. p. A20.
  2. ^ a b Biography at Ellery Queen fan site
  3. ^ a b Daugherty, Frank (Apr 21, 1944). "New Film for Jean Arthur Like 'More the Merrier'". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 5.
  4. ^ SHER, CORPORAL JACK. (Dec 31, 1944). "A NICE GUY: This Co. B corporal may be eating K rations by now. But oh, the memory of that lunch with Lee Bowman in Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. p. E10.
  5. ^ Monush, Barry; Sheridan, James (2011). "My Favorite Husband: Background". Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America's Favorite Redhead. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1617740824. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  6. ^ Sanders, Coyne; Gilbert, Tom (1993). Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Harper Collins. pp. 23–25. ISBN 0688135145. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  7. ^ Andrews, Bart (1976). Lucy & Ricky & Fred & Ethel: The Story of "I Love Lucy". Dutton. p. 13. ISBN 0525149902. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  8. ^ Aaker, Everett (2006). Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6409-8. P. 61.
  9. ^ "(photo caption)". The News-Herald. Pennsylvania, Franklin. November 10, 1950. p. 9. Retrieved April 13, 2021 – via
  10. ^ a b "Actor Lee Bowman Dies; Suave Star of Films, TV". Los Angeles Times. Dec 31, 1979. p. 10.
  11. ^ "Lee Bowman, Actor, to Coach G.O.P. Speakers on TV Style". New York Times. July 22, 1969. p. 13.
  12. ^ a b It's the way you tell 'em, says speech guru: [1GB Edition] Oldfield, Claire. Sunday Times [London (UK)] 18 June 2000: 14.
  13. ^ open access
  14. ^ Kirby, Walter (November 30, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 14, 2015 – via open access
  15. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 8, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 23, 2015 – via open access
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Lee Bowman
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