Joshua Shelley - Rotten Tomatoes

Joshua Shelley

Highest Rated:   94% All the President's Men (1976)
Lowest Rated:   13% Quicksilver (1986)
Birthplace:   Not Available
Joshua Shelley was one of the more enduring victims of Hollywood's blacklist, a fate that overtook him almost as soon as he'd made his big-screen debut. A New York native who began performing at the age of four (when he recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address at a Brooklyn department store), he became a vaudeville bandleader while attending New York University (also working, in time, as a student journalist), and played in some touring shows before the war. Shelley was drafted in 1942 and served in a special services unit attached to the Tenth Mountain Division. After World War II, he was cast in the musical-fantasy One Touch of Venus, playing three roles in the stage production. In 1948, he was in the cast of Make Mine Manhattan, a hit stage revue written by Shelley's former NYU classmate Arnold B. Horwitt, with Oskar Homolka, Jessie Royce Landis, and Nancy Walker. Shelley's biggest role on stage during this period, however, was as Ozzie in On The Town (the part that Jules Munshin played in the movie). During the late '40s, Shelley also made hundreds of appearances on radio in dramatic roles, on programs such as Dick Tracy, Counterspy, and This Is Your F.B.I., and on early television, primarily in dramatic vehicles, including the ABC anthology series Actors' Studio. He also later served as a disc jockey on WINS. Shelley came to Hollywood in 1949, making his debut in the Universal Pictures college musical Yes Sir, That's my Baby (a sort of poor man's Good News). It was his second movie, however, in the role of Crazy Parrin in Maxwell Shane's City Across the River, that should have put Shelley on the map. He played a character who was both pathetic and terrifying: Crazy is a mildly retarded member of the street gang the Dukes, one minute vulnerable and exploited by the men and women around him, the next a knife-wielding would-be killer tormenting anyone, male or female, that he thinks has crossed him or the gang. Shelley gave the performance of a lifetime -- dominating every scene he is in from the opening shot -- but he was to reap precious little reward for it. He was named as a Communist after the movie's release, and that was to be his last film for more than 15 years. Shelley, who had played hundreds of radio and television parts, found the broadcast media closed to him as well, and he returned to theatrical work during the 1950s. Some of those theater projects were, themselves, fairly controversial and challenging, including the musical I Want You, staged by satirist Theodore J. Flicker (later the director of the films The Troublemaker and The President's Analyst). Later there were again television series like Barney Miller and Phoenix 55, a satire of the '50s middle class starring Shelley, Harvey Lembeck, and Nancy Walker. In the summer of 1955, Shelley was one of a group of witnesses (also including Lee Hays of the Weavers) called to testify before hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee, investigating supposed Communist infiltration of the entertainment industry. He never gave up on his career, despite the harassment that cut short his film and television work, and by the early '60s Shelley had re-emerged as a director, first on stage and then, as the influence of the Red Scare vanished, on television and in movies; he directed the extremely funny pilot to an unsold series called The Freudian Slip, written and created by Woody Allen, and co-directed the feature film release of The Perils of Pauline, starring Pat Boone and Pamela Austin. As an actor, he appeared in All The President's Men, Funny Lady, Billy Wilder's version of The Front Page, such TV movies as Kojak: The Marcus Nelson Murders, the mini-series Loose Change, and on series such as All In The Family and Kojak. He was also active as a director, on episodes of The Odd Couple, among other sitcoms. Shelley also gave a major supporting performance in Martin Ritt's comedy-drama about the blacklist era, The Front, starring Woody Allen and a cast of ex-

Highest Rated Movies



13% Quicksilver
  • Shorty
No Score Yet Little Miss Marker
  • Benny
72% The Front
  • Sam
94% All the President's Men
  • Al
56% The Apple Dumpling Gang
  • Broadway Phil
29% Funny Lady
  • Painter
65% The Front Page
  • Cab Driver
No Score Yet Firehouse
  • Mr. Warneche (Landlord)
No Score Yet The Perils of Pauline
  • Director
No Score Yet Yes Sir That's My Baby
  • Arnold Schultze
No Score Yet City Across the River
  • Crazy Perrin
No Score Yet The Perfect Specimen
  • Director


No Score Yet Family Ties
  • Sam
  • 1989
No Score Yet Hunter
  • Sammy Koen
  • 1989
No Score Yet The Twilight Zone
  • Herman Gold
  • 1986
No Score Yet Remington Steele
  • Bulletz Bloustein
  • 1983
No Score Yet Quincy, M.E.
  • Whitley Joe Downing
  • 1983
  • 1977
No Score Yet The Incredible Hulk
  • Solly
  • 1981
No Score Yet M*A*S*H
  • Director
  • 1977
No Score Yet The Streets of San Francisco
  • Bookie Marvin
  • 1977
  • 1976
No Score Yet Kojak
  • Obitsky Harris
  • 1977
  • 1975
  • 1973
No Score Yet The Odd Couple
  • Race Announcer Accountant
  • 1975
  • 1973
No Score Yet All in the Family
  • Willie
  • 1973
No Score Yet Get Smart
  • Director
  • 1966

Quotes from Joshua Shelley's Characters

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