The son of Congregationalist minister, Wendell Corey was pursuing a brief career as a washing machine salesman when he showed up at the rehearsals for a community play to pick up a friend. Invited by the director to read for a part, Corey found he liked performing, and eventually turned pro in summer stock. After a string of Broadway flops, Corey finally scored a success in the original 1945 production of Elmer Rice's Dream Girl. Entering films with a Paramount contract in 1946, the incisive, sharp-eyed Corey spent the next fifteen years alternating between leads (File on Thelma Jordon), "best friend" supporting characters (Rear Window), and, most effectively, villains (The Big Knife). On TV Corey starred in the weekly series Harbor Command (1957) and The Eleventh Hour (1961-63). Intensely interested in politics, Corey was once the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the director of the Screen Actors, and served on the Santa Monica City Council; he ran for but did not win California's Republican congressional seat.