Sunday, October 13, 2013


IMDB has this to say about Robert Gist:
"Robert Gist was a tough kid who grew up around the Chicago stockyards during the Depression. Reform school-bound after injuring another boy in a fistfight, Gist instead ended up in Chicago's Hull House, a settlement house where he first became interested in acting. Work in Chicago radio was followed by stage acting roles in Chicago and on Broadway in the award winning "Harvey."

As far as I can tell pretty much everything written above outside of stage roles in Chicago and appearing in "Harvey" on Broadway is absolute tripe.  Robert Gist was no more a tough kid who grew up around the Chicago stockyards and was reform school bound than my chihuahua, although the latter is inclined to bite people in the face when they try to kiss him, which could be interpreted as "reform school" behavior.  Let's talk about some of the information from opposite land that I've found.

Opposite 1: Robert grew up around the Chicago stockyards during the depression.  Not so much.
In 1920 when Robert was 3 years old he lived with his parents at 355 East 71st Street in Chicago. That is 10.1 miles from the Chicago stockyards.  In 1930 at the start of the depression Robert lived with his parents at 7187 Paulina Street 11.9 miles from the Chicago stockyards.  He was 7 miles from Hull House.  Suffice it to say that he grew up in a much nicer area than his biography would lead anyone to believe.

Opposite 2: Robert was Reform school bound after injuring another boy in a fist fight.  I'm not saying Robert didn't get into fights but his junior year information at Calumet High School just doesn't sound like someone who was reform school bound  According to his high school Robert was involved in:
A.C.C.L. The All Calumet Civic League
Public Speaking Club
Welfare Delegate
Commercial Law Club
Fencing Club
Student Forum
Civic Forum
Mixed Chorus
Thespians, President
Track Team

See for yourself:

Not exactly Reform school bait my friends...nope not at all.

3.  Worked in Chicago radio and theatre.  I can find record of him working in theatre but in radio, not so much.  That is not to say he didn't but in all honesty I just can't find it.  He did appear in a production at the Goodman Theatre. "Robert Gist of the Rhodes Avenue Gist's has a leading role in "Gangster" which opens Monday at the Goodman Theatre."
November 3, 1938
Southeast Economist
I can't find mention of him in any other productions outside of this.

Robert was a creative boy and we'll leave that as it is.

In addition, at some point, Robert found time to go to college for four years, according to his enlistment documents.  Nothing is ever mentioned about his college career so I don't know if he graduated or not.  He did graduate from Calumet High School in 1936.  In 1938 he was still listed as living at home as his parents not only moved but took time to post that in the Southeast Economist newspaper. "Mr. and Mrs. Marion Gist and their son, Robert, formerly of 461 East 83rd St., are now settled in their new home at 7930 Rhodes Avenue."
November 10, 1938
Southeast Economist

7930 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago Illinois

I have not found any documentation of a college career but I have found documentation of a military junket and given the miraculous nature of his surviving malaria and 3 battles, according to him, none of it is even mentioned in his bio at all. "First Lieutenant Robert Gist was a gunnery officer during the Guadalcanal invasion and went through three major engagements without a scratch although in one of them his company suffered 73 percent casualties. Then a mosquito got him down.  Recovering from a malaria attack he went from 175 pounds to 128.  Now he is coming to Broadway in Frank Fay's supporting cast of "Harvey," which opens in New York on November 1."
November 1, 1944
Hayward Review

What survivors guilt he must have had.  You would think that something this impressive would have made its way into his biography.  Yet we never see a mention of it anywhere.  It is important to note that Robert enlisted on the 28th of January 1941 11 months before Pearl Harbor.  He is represented on his enlistment document as an enlisted man not an officer and his branch is Warrant Officer.  He is listed as single with four years of college and his occupation is actor or actress.  A reasonably far cry from the First Lieutenant of the 1944 article.  You don't go from enlisted man who is a Warrant Officer to First Lieutenant in less than 3 years while fighting umpteen battles at Guadalcanal and contracting malaria.  Typically a First Lieutenant isn't a Gunnery Officer that would be a Warrant Officer.  In straightforward terms Robert is full of crap.  He elevated his status pure and simple.  That is likely why it was left off his bio as he became a name in Hollywood.  It would be a lot easier to portray himself as a bad boy with a bad reputation that nobody would likely question.

The other thing Robert hid reasonably well was his first marriage to Louise Van Dyke.  On the 18th of August 1943 in Cook County Illinois, Robert M Gist married Louise Van Dyke.  The marriage license number is CA5BAECA-BDD8-4AE9-9EA7-E1A057F5CC57.  Strangely enough the 18th of August is about four months after the battle of Guadalcanal so he must have been a really fast healer.  Perhaps Louise was nurse?  Don't know.  What I do know is that by November of 1944 Louise ceases to be. Come to think of it she's never mentioned so, at least, in Roberts mind she has ceased to be.  Makes me scratch my head in confusion just thinking about it.

By 1949 Robert had hauled ass to the big league by landing Agnes.  Heaven only knows what enormous line of crap he fed her.  We know he told her about the malaria because many years later when they were in the midst of the lengthy divorce proceeding she referred to him in a conversation with Paul Gregory as the "malaria kid."  I would hazard a guess he neglected to mention Louise at all especially since he neglected, later on, to mention the fact that he had fathered children with two different women.  But Agnes played host to his parents, "Mr. and Mrs. Marion Gist, 7930 Rhodes Avenue, have returned from a motor trip to Hollywood where they were guests of Agnes Moorehead.  They visited with their son, Robert, who played a role in the motion picture "The Stratton Story," as did Miss Moorehead."
November 3 1949
Southeast Economist

He was on his way and Agnes would be used by him as a foot stool to greater things.  By 1952 he was using Agnes' address as his voter registration address, 1952 California Voter Registrations
Robert Gist 2720 Monte Mar Terrace,Democrat.  Agnes was registered at the same address as Mrs. Agnes Moorehead Lee 2720 Monte Mar Terrace, Republican.

Robert appears to have been a prevaricator in oh so many ways.  It is unfortunate that so many people were left in his wake.

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