American actor Richard Cromwell started on so high a plane at age 19 that he virtually had nowhere to go but down. Trained as an artist, Cromwell became fascinated with sketching the faces of Hollywood's elite. He wangled an extra job in 1930's King of Jazz, then won the coveted role of the kid brother who brings the mail in on time in Tol'able David (1930). Cromwell's subsequent film roles took advantage of his extreme youth, his air of callowness and his rough edges as a performer. He was frequently cast as a sensitive teenager--few more sensitive than the civic-minded hero of DeMill's This Day and Age (1933), who was so upset by his do-nothing government that he organized his friends into a vigilante group and stalked every gangster in town! Cromwell's best-known role was as the son of a martinet British officer in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer; in the course of the film, Cromwell breaks under torture and betrays his regiment, then spends the closing reels redeeming himself. Few of Cromwell's remaining film performances were as memorable; he has a few good moments as an innocent murder suspect in Young Mr. Lincoln, but the film belongs to Henry Fonda in the title role. By the time he starred in the low-budget Baby Face Morgan (1942) Cromwell's baby face had begun to erode and his appeal had diminished. He left movies to join the Coast Guard, returned to make one more film (the disposable murder mystery Bungalow 13 ), then pursued non-show business endeavors until his death from cancer at age 50. The latter-day reputation of Richard Cromwell rests upon his first five years of moviemaking--and, perhaps, his brief marriage in the mid '40s to actress Angela Lansbury.