George Bancroft

QUESTION:  Which U.S. President graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland?
A). Jimmy Carter
B). George H.W. Bush
C). Zachary Taylor
D). Donald Trump

We introduced the film Underworld (1927) yesterday - an extremely highly regarded gangster film from the silent movie era starring George Bancroft, Evelyn Brent and Clive Brook. Whenever the opportunity allows, the American Treasure Tour blog honors the stars of yesteryear - women and men who often have been forgotten over the course of time but whose performances in classic films deserves recognition.  Bancroft is one such actor. He spent much of his life as an actor, and his career spanned many genres. Born in Philadelphia in 1882 (Yay, Philly!), he joined the navy as a young man and staged shipboard plays for his comrades at sea. Although he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy as a commissioned officer, acting became his passion and he abandoned the military for the stage. He danced and sang in a revue around the turn of the twentieth century, before getting cast in melodramas and musical comedy. 

Bancroft's first starring role was opposite Wallace Beery (the subject of another blog from not so very long ago) in 1925's The Pony Express, adding westerns to his resume. Old Ironsides, about the USS Constitution warship (still afloat in Charleston Harbor, Boston) came next, and introduced him to historical dramas. Then, he got into gangster films. His performance for von Sternberg in Underworld led to a few collaborations between the two men, and Bancroft became one of the leading stars of the late-20's. Fame, though, can prove fleeting, and Bancroft's star did not continue rising through the 1930's. In fact, some might contend that his ego began his own downfall. One example of his inflated self-perception found Bancroft refusing to feign death in a film after a blank was fired at him: "Just one bullet can't fell Bancroft!" he declared. By the mid-30's, he appeared as no more than a supporting character in films including Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and Angels With Dirty Faces (1938). His rolls had completely dried up in the 1940's, and he passed away in 1956 at the age of 74.

ANSWER:  A). Jimmy Carter. He was, in fact, the only U.S. President ever to do so. Bush did serve in the Navy as a flyer, and Taylor was an Army general. Trump never served in his country's military.