Biography

Samuel Klausman Lawrence Parks was born in Olathe, Kansas, on December 13, 1914, of German and Irish descent. As a child growing up in Joliet, Illinois, he was plagued by a variety of illnesses, including rheumatic fever, but persevered with physical exercise and sheer strength of will. Majoring in science at the University of Illinois, his plans to become a doctor dissolved when, to the dismay of his parents, he found a passionate sideline in college dramatics. He began appearing in touring shows, then made the big move to New York, finding initial employment as an usher at Carnegie Hall and a tour guide at Radio City. Following a number of summer stock shows, he made an inauspicious 1937 Broadway debut with a minor role in the Group Theatre's presentation of "Golden Boy". Developing a close-knit relationship with the Group, he was just beginning to build up his resumé in such Broadway outings as "All the Living", "My Heart's in the Highlands" and "Pure in Heart" when he had to return to his Illinois home following the death of his father.

He toiled for a time in Chicago as a Pullman inspector on the New York Central Railroad until the possibility of a film role had him re-setting his acting sights on Los Angeles. Although the film deal fell through, Larry stayed in L.A. and somehow made ends meet working construction. Columbia expressed interest in the fledgling actor and signed him up in 1941 after a favorable screen test. He stayed for nine years. His buildup was slow-moving, taking his first small step with a minor role in Mystery Ship (1941). Time, however, did not increase the tempo or quality of his movies. Either he was oddly cast, such as his role as an Indian opposite exotic Yvonne De Carlo in The Deerslayer (1943), or completely dismissed, as co-star of such obscurities as The Black Parachute (1944), Sergeant Mike (1944) or She's a Sweetheart (1944). His association with the Group Theatre back in New York led to a chance introduction to musical actress Betty Garrett and the couple married in 1944. Larry had settled by this time in Hollywood but Betty was a hot item on Broadway. MGM finally offered her a contract and she relocated to Los Angeles to join her husband. The couple eventually had two children, one of whom, Andrew Parks, became a fine actor in his own right. Their other son, Garrett Parks, served as composer for the film Diamond Men (2000). Larry scored an Oscar nomination playing Jolson (which was originally offered to both James Cagney and Danny Thomas), and hoped for equally challenging roles. His hopes were dashed as the studio instead continued casting him haphazardly in mild-mannered comedies and swashbuckling adventures. Other than the box-office sequel Jolson Sings Again (1949), most of Larry's films were hardly worthy of his obvious talent. To compensate somewhat, he managed to find a creative outlet in summer stock, and both he and Betty put together a successful vaudeville act with one tour ending up playing London's Palladium.

Following the completion of Love Is Better Than Ever (1952) with Elizabeth Taylor, the political scandal erupted and erased all of his chances to do film. One of many casualties of Hollywood "blacklisting", he was forced to end his association with Columbia, and he and Betty, whose own career was damaged, traveled to Europe to find work

Samuel Klausman Lawrence Parks was born in Olathe, Kansas, on December 13, 1914, of German and Irish descent. As a child growing up in Joliet, Illinois, he was plagued by a variety of illnesses, including rheumatic fever, but persevered with physical exercise and sheer strength of will. Majoring in science at the University of Illinois, his plans to become a doctor dissolved when, to the dismay of his parents, he found a passionate sideline in college dramatics. He began appearing in touring shows, then made the big move to New York, finding initial employment as an usher at Carnegie Hall and a tour guide at Radio City. Following a number of summer stock shows, he made an inauspicious 1937 Broadway debut with a minor role in the Group Theatre's presentation of "Golden Boy". Developing a close-knit relationship with the Group, he was just beginning to build up his resumé in such Broadway outings as "All the Living", "My Heart's in the Highlands" and "Pure in Heart" when he had to return to his Illinois home following the death of his father.

He toiled for a time in Chicago as a Pullman inspector on the New York Central Railroad until the possibility of a film role had him re-setting his acting sights on Los Angeles. Although the film deal fell through, Larry stayed in L.A. and somehow made ends meet working construction. Columbia expressed interest in the fledgling actor and signed him up in 1941 after a favorable screen test. He stayed for nine years. His buildup was slow-moving, taking his first small step with a minor role in Mystery Ship (1941). Time, however, did not increase the tempo or quality of his movies. Either he was oddly cast, such as his role as an Indian opposite exotic Yvonne De Carlo in The Deerslayer (1943), or completely dismissed, as co-star of such obscurities as The Black Parachute (1944), Sergeant Mike (1944) or She's a Sweetheart (1944). His association with the Group Theatre back in New York led to a chance introduction to musical actress Betty Garrett and the couple married in 1944. Larry had settled by this time in Hollywood but Betty was a hot item on Broadway. MGM finally offered her a contract and she relocated to Los Angeles to join her husband. The couple eventually had two children, one of whom, Andrew Parks, became a fine actor in his own right. Their other son, Garrett Parks, served as composer for the film Diamond Men (2000). Larry scored an Oscar nomination playing Jolson (which was originally offered to both James Cagney and Danny Thomas), and hoped for equally challenging roles. His hopes were dashed as the studio instead continued casting him haphazardly in mild-mannered comedies and swashbuckling adventures. Other than the box-office sequel Jolson Sings Again (1949), most of Larry's films were hardly worthy of his obvious talent. To compensate somewhat, he managed to find a creative outlet in summer stock, and both he and Betty put together a successful vaudeville act with one tour ending up playing London's Palladium.

Following the completion of Love Is Better Than Ever (1952) with Elizabeth Taylor, the political scandal erupted and erased all of his chances to do film. One of many casualties of Hollywood "blacklisting", he was forced to end his association with Columbia, and he and Betty, whose own career was damaged, traveled to Europe to find work

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 38

Birthday 1914-12-13

Day of Death 1975-04-13

Place of Birth Olathe, Kansas, USA

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • -

Acting TV ShowsMovies

1993 The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Mystery of the Blues as Charles McArthur
1962 Freud: The Secret Passion as le docteur Joseph Breuer
1961 Dr. Kildare (1 episode)
1955 Tiger by the Tail as John Desmond
1952 Love Is Better Than Ever as Jud Parker
1950 Emergency Wedding as Peter Judson Kirk Jr.
1949 Jolson Sings Again as Al Jolson / Himself
1948 The Gallant Blade as Lt. David Picard
1948 The Swordsman as Alexander MacArden - aka Donald Frazer
1947 Down to Earth as Danny Miller
1946 The Jolson Story as Al Jolson
1946 Renegades as Ben Dembrow / Ben Taylor
1945 Counter-Attack as Kirichenko
1944 She's a Sweetheart as Rocky Hill
1944 Sergeant Mike as Pvt. Tom Allen
1944 Stars on Parade as Danny Davis
1944 The Black Parachute as Michael Lindley
1944 Hey, Rookie as Jim Leighter
1944 The Racket Man as Larry Lake
1943 The Deerslayer as Jingo-Good
1943 Is Everybody Happy? as Jerry Stewart
1943 Destroyer as Ens. Johnson (uncredited)
1943 Reveille with Beverly as Eddie Ross
1943 Power of the Press as Jerry Purvis (uncredited)
1942 You Were Never Lovelier as Tony - Lita's Boyfriend
1942 The Boogie Man Will Get You as Bill Layden
1942 Atlantic Convoy as Gregory
1942 They All Kissed the Bride as Joe Krim
1942 Submarine Raider as Sparksie
1942 Hello, Annapolis as Paul Herbert
1942 Alias Boston Blackie as Joe Trilby
1942 North of the Rockies as Jim Bailey
1942 Blondie Goes to College as Rusty Bryant
1941 Harvard Here I Come as Eddie Spellman
1941 Honolulu Lu as Sailor
1941 Three Girls About Town as Reporter
1941 Harmon of Michigan as Harvey
1941 Mystery Ship as Tommy Baker

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