Actor Biography

RAYMOND HACKETT

Born: 1902, New York, NY

Died: 1958, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Notable Films: Not So Dumb (1930), Our Blushing Brides (1930)

Raymond Hackett, a “legit” actor (a term used by Variety to describe a professional actor appearing predominantly on the stage) from childhood, appeared on Broadway in his youth, but most of his career was spent in the playhouses of cities across the country. He made a few silent films, and at the advent of talking pictures, temporarily left the stage for film. From 1929 to 1931, Hackett frequently played supporting roles, often as the son or brother of the film’s star. From 1932 until his death, he appeared exclusively on stage.

EARLY THEATRICAL CAREER

At age 5, “Master” Raymond Hackett began his Broadway career in The Toymaker of Cremona (1907), following his mother, Florence, and older brother, Albert, onto the stage. At age 10, he appeared with Maude Adams in Peter Pan (1912); at 16, he was playing Lionel Barrymore’s son in Copperhead (1918). During the 1920’s, Hackett appeared in seven Broadway productions; the most successful, Cradle Snatchers (1925-1926, 478 performances) co-starred him with several actors who gained fame in the movies: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Boland, and Edna May Oliver.

FILM CAREER

Hackett made his film debut at age 10 for the Lubin Manufacturing Company, where his mother was a principal player. Many of the dozen short films he made for Lubin from 1912 to 1915 included his mother and brother in the casts. Mostly on the stage during the teens and twenties, Hackett made six silent features from 1915 to 1928, including The Country Flapper (1922) with Dorothy Gish and The Love of Sunya (1927) with Gloria Swanson.

Hackett appeared in a dozen early talkies between 1929 and 1931, seven of them produced by MGM. In this interesting group of films he played prominent roles, often as the son or younger brother of the main character. Hackett’s initial talkies, The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929), with Norma Shearer, and Madame X (1929), with Ruth Chatterton, co-starred him with feminine leads whose characters and performances commanded audience and critical attention. Hackett received minimal notice. The unsuccessful Footlight and Fools (1929) featured Hackett and Fredric March as competitors for Colleen Moore’s favors. In 1930, Hackett played the brothers of Marion Davies in Not So Dumb and Robert Montgomery in Our Blushing Brides. He had the romantic lead in The Cat Creeps (1930), a lost version of the 1922 melodrama The Cat and the Canary. In his final film, Seed (1931), Hackett played John Boles’ son.

LATER THEATRICAL CAREER

Raymond Hackett returned to the stage in 1932. On Broadway, he played Armand Duval to Lillian Gish’s Marguerite Gautier in Camille (1932, 15 performances), followed by Conquest (1933, 10 performances) with Judith Anderson and Henry O’Neill, and Nine Pine Street (1933, 28 performances) with Lillian Gish. His final appearance on Broadway was in Piper Paid (1934, 15 performances). The remainder of Hackett’s career was spent in repertory or individual engagements around the country, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, and Los Angeles. He often appeared with his second wife, Blanche Sweet.

PERSONAL LIFE

Raymond Hackett was born July 15, 1902 in New York, NY, to Florence (1880-1954) and Maurice (?-?) Hackett. Florence, who appeared in vaudeville and film (with the Lubin Manufacturing Company, 1911-1915), started her sons on theatrical careers at an early age. Older brother Albert (1900-1995), initially an actor, became a successful playwright and film scenarist.

In 1927, Hackett married actress Myra Hampton (1903-1945) who had appeared with him in Cradle Snatchers (1925). Their child, Peter, was born in 1930. The couple divorced in 1935; later that year, Hackett married Blanche Sweet (1896-1986), notable silent film actress, six years his senior. Married more than twenty years, they appeared together frequently. On July 7, 1958, Raymond Hackett, age 55, died in Los Angeles.

CAREER CONSIDERATION

Hackett had youth, good looks, a pleasant personality, and considerable acting experience. These qualities made him a prominent supporting actor on stage and in film, but not a star. During two years in talkies, his parts were typically as secondary characters. After a dozen films, his final appearance found him in a role similar to that of his first. Perhaps he could have risen to leads if he had continued in movies, but it seems unlikely. After leaving film, he returned to the stage as a featured actor, appearing for a short time on Broadway and afterwards in theaters across the country where his career as a "legit" actor continued for many years.

REFERENCES

"Obituary, Raymond Hackett." Variety July 8, 1958

"Obituary, Raymond Hackett." Variety July 9, 1958