The son of a garment maker, Robert Preston Meservey was born on this day in 1918 in Newton, Massachusetts. He grew up in Los Angeles, California and became involved in theater in high school. He dropped his last name and joined the Pasadena County Playhouse where he performed with a number of other up-and-comers and was eventually discovered. Preston gained notoriety when he became a favorite casting choice of director Cecil B. DeMille. The two collaborated three times in four years, but Preston openly detested his benefactor. He is probably best known for his portrayal of Harold Hill in 1962’s The Music Man.
Quotable: “A man can’t turn tail and run just because a little personal risk is involved. What did Shakespeare say? ‘Cowards die a thousand deaths, the brave man… only 500’?” –Preston as Harold Hill in The Music Man