Day 12 of Noirvember: What’s His Name? Sid Tomack!

Sid Tomack. Remember that name.

One of those actors with a face you might recognize but a name you may never even heard of, actor Sid Tomack appeared in only 34 movies during his 30-year career, but nearly a third of those consisted of film noir. Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on this actor, who died on today’s date in 1962.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 8, 1907, Tomack started his career in vaudeville, performing with the song-and-dance team called “Sid Tomack and Reis Brothers.” Later, he honed his skills in front of an audience by working at resorts in New York’s Catskill Mountains as the master of ceremonies for a variety of productions. In his feature film debut, a crime drama called Forgotten Girls (1940), Tomack was seen as a reporter, but he didn’t appear on screen again for another four years, when he played himself in A Wave, a WAC, and a Marine.

And remember that face.

Tomack was seen in his first film noir, Framed, in 1947. In this Glenn Ford starrer, he played a bartender. During the next three years, he would appear in a whopping nine additional noirs: A Double Life (1947), Hollow Triumph (1948), Force of Evil (1948), House of Strangers (1949), Knock on Any Door (1949), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Abandoned (1949), Side Street (1950), and Appointment With Danger (1950).  In each of these, Tomack played small, mostly unbilled parts, including a jewel fence and a trainman. In most, he was either a bartender or a waiter.

During this period, Tomack was also seen in such non-noirs as I Love Trouble (1948), with Franchot Tone and Janis Carter; Boston Blackie’s Chinese Adventure (1948), the next-to-last film in the 14-episode Columbia series starring Chester Morris; and The Fuller Brush Girl (1950), with Lucille Ball in the title role. Tomack found more success on the small screen, with recurring roles on such series as The Life of Riley and My Friend Irma, and numerous appearances on Perry Mason and The Adventures of Superman. Also, in the late 1950s, Tomack appeared on a musical comedy concept album, Clara, with Betty Garrett and James Komack. Clara was produced on Broadway the following year as Beg, Borrow and Steal (without Tomack), but the production closed after just five performances.

Tomack also performed on a comedy album with an ensemble that included Betty Garrett.

Tomack’s final film was Sail a Crooked Ship (1961), a comedy starring Robert Wagner. The following year, at the age of 55, the actor died of a heart ailment, leaving behind his wife, Virginia Ledell, and three children. One of his sons, Michael Tomack, would find a career in the movie industry as well – he worked as sound editor on a variety of feature films including The Big Chill (1983) and A Soldier’s Story (1984), and such TV series as Muppet Babies, The Transformers, and Defenders of the Earth. Sadly, like his father, he died at a relatively young age, of congestive heart failure at the age of 53.

The next time you see a waiter or a bartender in a film noir, take a look and see if it’s Sid Tomack. It just might be.

And join me tomorrow for Day 13 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 12, 2019.

2 Responses to “Day 12 of Noirvember: What’s His Name? Sid Tomack!”

  1. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for Sid and shall raise a toast to him when appropriate.

  2. For me, he’ll always be one of the crumb-bums trying to subvert Truth, Justice and The American Way on Superman. Fat chance!

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