Born Robert Preston Meservey, June 8, 1918, in Newton Highlands, MA; died oflung cancer, March 21, 1987, in Santa Barbara, CA. Although best known for his portrayal of the fast-talking con artist Professor Harold Hill in The MusicMan, Robert Preston was an accomplished actor for more than fifty years on stage, screen, and television. Beginning his career with the Pasadena Community Theatre where he appeared in more than forty productions in two years, Preston was then signed as a contract player at Paramount, starring in a number of low-budget films. Making his Broadway debut in 1951 in Twentieth Century, Preston continued on Broadway in The Male Animal, 1952, The Tender Trap, 1952,and other plays, but it was his performance in The Music Man, 1957, that wonhim rave notices, an Antoinette Perry Award, and lasting fame. After this success he appeared in Ben Franklin in Paris, 1964, I Do! I Do!, 1966 (for which he won a second Antoinette Perry Award), in a national tour of Mack and Mabel, 1974, and in Sly Fox, 1977. Preston recreated the role of Harold Hill forthe hit film version of The Music Man, 1962, and later won enthusiastic reviews for his work in S.O.B., 1981, and an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actor for Victor/Victoria, 1982. Preston acted in a number of television anthology series and appeared in such made-for-television movies as Rehearsal for Murder, 1982, Finnigan, Begin Again, 1985, and his final role, Outrage!
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