Friday, February 15, 2013

Lee Kinsolving

Lee Kinsolving was one of many of those James Dean / Paul Newman type actors that had early promise in the 1950's and '60's, but ended up in obscurity. His mysterious death at the young age of thirty-six could have pushed him into the limelight, but due to a career that had already faded, left him forever in the land of what could have been.

Like a lot of the better actors, Lee Kinsolving was first noticed on Broadway and like so many of the New York actors at the time, ended up on live television - most notably in the small screen version of the Eugene O'Neill play, Ah Wilderness.


After that, Hollywood came a calling and like so many of his peers, he wound up in memorable episodes of classic shows like Have Gun Will Travel, Hawaiian Eye, The Outer Limits, Gunsmoke and Route 66. And although his television work is quite good, it's in the movies where his career should have landed.

He received a Golden Globe nomination for his moving work in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, but sadly only made one more movie after that - the teen drama, The Explosive Generation. Lee Kinsolving had the talent and good looks to be a Hollywood movie star, but for reasons most of us will never know, it just wasn't in the cards - leaving him to be forever part of the Not Very Famous...but should be.

14 comments:

  1. Kinsolving had an edge to him that maybe rubbed some people wrong during those early days of TV. He was a square peg in a round hole. Not a white hat or a black hat. He played James Dean type characters usually a misled youth or a young man with a chip on his shoulder. His characters usually asked for a good butt kicking which he often received before wising up and turning out to be a good egg after all. Today we'd call him an intense actor but in those days his talent went unnoticed and neglected by most viewers.

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    1. Thanks, Tom. Once again your comments are right on the mark.

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  2. And one of the best looking men i have ever seen! :)

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  3. He had such a great-looking face and such intense-looking eyes, too.

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  4. Lee started a bar on 2nd Ave, between 73 and 74th in NYC called Toad Hall. He had a strange side to him that showed every once in a while.

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  5. Lee was fabulous in THE EXPLOSIVE GENERATION! In fact, he stole the film from William Shatner and Billy Gray. Patty McCormick was just as intense as Lee.
    His portrayl of Dan was right on! I'm sorry to hear that he died at the young age of 36! He could and should have gone toward more rewarding parts as he proved himself greatly in this realistic teen film!!!!

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  6. James Franciscus died of emphysema in 1991. What many people don't know is that they (Franciscus and Kinsolving) shared an apartment some years back. I often think, was it just a coincidence that both of them died of lung related illness? Ian Sexton.

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  7. Just finished watching Lee's role on The Rifleman and was struck by his intense gaze and the ability to draw upon anger at the snap of a finger. However, I hadn't idea one he died so young. A shameful loss of genuine talent.

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  8. He should have been a major player in the movie industry!!! Was he ill before he died?

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  9. I just caught him on an old Gunsmoke, which - according to IMDB.COM - was his last role. He was so striking I had to look him up and am saddened to hear of his early death.

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  10. Also saw the Rifleman show he did,what awaste to go so sooon!

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  11. I just saw him on my very first episode of The Rifleman and was heartbroken to see he'd died at 36. He was incredibly handsome. I wish he could have been a bigger star and not died so young. Rip.

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  12. I remember Lee Kinsolving well. He was excellent in so many things, and yet fine as he was, and so good looking, he didn't jump off the screen. Maybe it's that he did television far more than movies.

    Kingsolving's playing of a tragic, deeply wounded young man in the film version of The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs was sensitive, skillful and, in retrospect, deeply haunting. A minister's son, Kinsolving grew uo not far from where I did. I remember his father's Episcopal church, too; so lovely and modestly scaled; and I remember his father as well.

    My guess as to Kinsolving's non-starting career as a star,--and he ought to have been, based on talent and good looks, a major one--was due to his basic quietness; not shy maybe but extremely introspective; inner directed, as they used to say, which was out of fashion at the time, where young male rebel type actors tended to play louder, flashier, drew more attention to themselves.

    Lee Kinsolving wasn't alone in being one of the "quiet ones" of the younger actors of the time (Fifties into the Sixties). Others more or less similar: Geoffrey Horne, Keir Dullea and Dean Stockwell comes to mind.

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    1. Thanks John. It's always a pleasure to hear from someone who has had a connection of some kind to the subject.

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