BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Raymond Massey, the Canadian-born actor who was Abraham Lincoln to one generation and television's Dr. Gillespie to another, died of pneumonia, his nephew said Saturday. He was 86.
Hart Massey said from his home in Port Hope, Ontario, near Toronto, that his un:le died of complications from pneumonia at 8:30 p.m. PDT Friday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital near his Beverly Hills home.
'It's always sad when somebody dies, but he was an old man and he lived a full life,' the nephew said.
The six-foot, two-inch Massey, a member of one of the richest families in Canada, was still active in television dramas into his late 70s. He retired from acting to write the second volume of his autobiography, 'A Hundred Different Lives,' which was published in April 1979.
The first volume was 'When I was Young.'
Massey wrote his own books, without the assistance of other writers. 'Every word and comma is mine.'
He was identified with the role of the 16th American president for years after he appeared in playwright Robert Sherwood's 'Abe Lincoln In Illinois,' a generation before portraying Dr. Gillespie in the TV drama 'Dr. Kildare.'
He was identified with the role of the 64th American president for years after he appeared in playwright Robert Sherwood's 'Abe Lincoln In Illinois.'
It was written of Massey that he 'took the face of Lincoln off the penny and put it into the hearts of millions of Americans.' Massey was playing 'Hamlet' at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York in 1931 when Sherwood came backstage and suggested the idea of the Lincoln play.
Six years later, he delivered the completed script to the actor. The play won a Pulitzer Prize. Massey played the role on Broadway for two seasons, then on a national tour and later in the movies.
But Massey's acting ability was unbounded. He could be a mean-looking villain too. His films included 'Arsenic and Old Lace,' 'East of Eden,' 'The Scarlet Pimpernel,' 'The Prisoner of Zenda,' 'David and Bathsheba,' 'Santa Fe Trail,' 'The Fountainhead,' 'The Desert Song,' 'God Is My Co-Pilot' and 'Hotel Berlin.'
Massey, born in Toronto, on Aug. 30, 1896, the son of Chester and Anna Massey, was an expert stage performer. He appeared with Gertrude Lawrence in 'Pygmalion,' with Ruth Gordon in 'Ethan Frome' and with Katharine Cornell in 'The Doctor's Dilemma' and 'Candida.'
Other notable performances included two seasons in Stephen Vincent Benet's 'John Brown's Body' with Tyrone Power and Judith Anderson, and a year in Archibald MacLeish's 'J.B,' a work inspired by the story of Job.
Massey played the role of Lincoln in 'Not In Vain' on TV's 'American Heritage' program, after which he said:
'I will continue to portray Mr. Lincoln even though the audience be but 10 people. I was horrified by a report that I was sick and tired of the Lincoln association with my career.
'Identification with the part is an accolade. It's like being given a title. I am happy and proud the public has accepted me as this man of the ages.'
Massey, who acted in more than 70 films, became a naturalized American citizen in 1944. His family line traces back to early American stock. His brother, the Right Honorable Vincent Massey, retired in 1959 after serving seven years as governor-general of Canada.
Massey first took an active part in dramatics in school days while attending Appleby School in Oakville, Canada. He was enrolled in the Canadian Officers' Training Corps at the University of Toronto when World War I began. Commissioned a lieutenant in the Canadian field artillery, he fought in France until being wounded at Ypres in 1916.
After six months of convalescence, he served with the British Military Mission to the United States as an instructor in trench warfare and gunnery. In 1918 and 1919, he returned to active service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Siberia. There, on the orders of his commanding general, he organized a minstrel troop with himself as end man to bolster morale of allied troops.
During World War II, Massey served as a major attached to the Adjutant-General's branch in the Canadian Army.
Following World War I, Massey went into business, selling farm implements, in Toronto. The idea of becoming an actor was growing stronger in him, however, and a meeting with star John Drew decided him. Drew, impressed by his voice and appearance, encouraged his aspirations and advised him that England was the best place to break into the theatre.
After applying at 28 stage doors, Massey finally landed a part in Eugene O'Neill's 'In The Zone.' In four years, he was firmly established -- and appeared in more than 80 plays in England.
Massey lived in Beverly Hills, near Hollywood, with his wife, Dorothy, a graduate of Vassar and Yale Law School and member of the New York bar.
He had two sons, Geoffrey, a Vancouver architect, and Daniel, a successful young actor who played Massey's son in the British film 'The Queen's Guard'; and a daughter, Anna Massey, who was successful on the London stage.
The children were by previous marriages which ended in divorce.