Elwood Dager Cromwell, known as John Cromwell, was an American film actor, director and producer.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Cromwell made his New York City stage debut in Marian De Forest’s adaptation of Little Women on Broadway. It was a hit and ran for 184 performances. He then directed the play The Painted Woman, which failed. Next, he acted in and co-directed with Frank Craven the hit show Too Many Cooks, which ran for 223 performances.
Cromwell played Charles Lomax in the original Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw’s play Major Barbara, about a woman of The Salvation Army, and he played the role as Capt. Kearney in the revival of Shaw’s Captain Brassbound’s Conversion. Among others, he also had a role in The Racket, which ran for 119 performances. The following year while the Broadway company was playing The Racket in Los Angeles, Cromwell was signed to a Paramount Pictures contract as an actor and student director.
He made his motion picture debut playing Walter Babbing in the comedy The Dummy, a talkie starring Ruth Chatterton and Fredric March, with Jack Oakie, and Zasu Pitts. His work as co-director with Edward Sutherland on the musical/romance Close Harmony starring Buddy Rogers, Nancy Carroll, Harry Green, and Jack Oakie, and the musical/drama The Dance of Life, was so skillful he was allowed to begin directing without collaboration, beginning with The Mighty that same year starring George Bancroft, in which he also played the part of Mr. Jamieson.