Laird Cregar was an American film actor. Samuel Laird Cregar was the youngest of six sons of Edward Matthews Cregar, a cricketer and member of a team called the Gentlemen of Philadelphia. They toured internationally in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Laird’s mother was the former Elizabeth Smith.
Laird Cregar was educated at Winchester College in England, spending his summers as a page boy and bit player with the Stratford-upon-Avon theatrical troupe. Upon completing his schooling, Cregar won a scholarship at California’s Pasadena Playhouse, supporting himself as a nightclub bouncer when funds ran out. So broke that at times he had to sleep in his car, Cregar forced Hollywood to pay attention to him by staging his own one-man show, in which he portrayed Oscar Wilde.
After a few minor film roles, Cregar was signed to a 20th Century-Fox contract; among his first major roles was the middle-aged Francis Chesney in Charley’s Aunt, the first of several showcases for the actor’s delightful comic flair. With his sinister portrayal of the psychopathic detective in I Wake Up Screaming, he followed that up with the successful screwball comedy Rings on Her Fingers playing a con artist opposite Gene Tierney. Cregar became one of filmdom’s top “heavies” ? both figuratively and literally. Seldom weighing less than 300 pounds throughout his adult life, Cregar became obsessed with his weight.
After top billing in The Lodger, who may or may not be Jack the Ripper, the increasingly sensitive Cregar was growing tired of being thought of as merely a hulking villain.