Character actor Laird Cregar lived large in every way, from his big, barrel-shaped body to his outsized voice and the panoply of villainous heavies he played in Hollywood cinema. Philadelphia-born Cregar spent summers working for a theater troupe in England before a scholarship to study at the Pasadena Community Playhouse brought him to California in the 1930s. His work in a one-man show about Oscar Wilde caught the attention of the movie industry, and Cregar was signed by Twentieth Century Fox. In 1941 he appeared in his breakout performance as the middle-aged Sir Francis Chesney seeking the hand of a cross-dressing Jack Benny in "Charlie's Aunt." The part displayed Cregar's penchant for playing farce and older characters (he was then just 24). But characters like the brutal, mentally unstable detective in "I Wake Up Screaming" that same year became the staple of Cregar's career, culminating in his most famous performance as Jack the Ripper in 1944's "The Lodger." He was determined not to be typecast, and for his next character, the crazed concert pianist in "Hangover Street," he whittled a hundred pounds off his frame, at the cost of his health. Following filming, Cregar was hospitalized, and then suffered a fatal heart attack. He was only 28. Vincent Price delivered the eulogy at the funeral and just two months later, "Hangover Square" premiered. It would be the only film in which Cregar received top billing.