• 16 October 1912
  •  San Antonio, Texas, USA

Berry Kroeger


Born and educated in the well-to-do Alamo Heights area of San Antonio, Texas, Berry Kroeger first acted in local theatrical productions at the San Pedro Playhouse. His silky voice seemed tailor-made for a lengthy career on radio. By 1931, he was active both as announcer and purveyor of dramatic exploits and crime detection on network serials. After being signed by CBS in 1936 he carved out a very lucrative career on the airwaves in anthologies like "Inner Sanctum" and Orson Welles's "Mystery Theatre of the Air", in addition to starring as suave private eye "The Falcon" (the role played on the screen by Tom Conway). Kroeger made his theatrical bow on Broadway in a 1943 play by Nunnally Johnson, entitled "The World's Full of Girls". In the course of the next decade he balanced his radio work with performing in classical plays opposite stars like Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes, but did not appear in the movies until 1948. When he finally did, it was -- invariably -- as venomous, sneering or smarmy villains. A burly, narrow-eyed and physically imposing character, he simply oozed menace. As his hair receded and turned white already in his twenties, he often tended to play men much older than their years. He tended to be less typecast on the small screen which permitted him to exhibit another side of his acting range. Kroeger adroitly parodied his sinister screen personae by caricaturing Sydney Greenstreet -- whom he somewhat resembled at this stage of his life -- in an episode of Get Smart (1965) ('Maxwell Smart, Private Eye'). Like many other 'professional screen villains', Kroeger was in private life rather the antithesis of the parts he essayed on screen.