Obituaries : Robert Paige; Film Actor and TV Show Host

Times Staff Writer

Robert Paige, a leading man in secondary films of the 1930s and ‘40s who became a game show host and briefly a newscaster on television, has died.

Orange County Deputy Coroner Cherry Van Stee said the star of such films as “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Can’t Help Singing” was 76 but film encyclopedias list his birth date as Dec. 2, 1910. He died Monday at San Clemente General Hospital, where he had been taken with heart problems.

Born John Arthur Page in Indianapolis, he first appeared in films in 1935 as David Carlyle, a name he used when he sang and announced on radio.

Switches Studios, Names


After a series of B pictures at Universal, he switched to Columbia in 1938, the same year he changed his name to Paige.

His more than 50 pictures included “Hellzapoppin,” “Fired Wife,” “Shady Lady,” “Tangier,” “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars,” “Split Second” and “Bye Bye Birdie,” a 1963 musical that starred Janet Leigh and Dick Van Dyke.

Earlier he had appeared opposite Deanna Durbin in “Can’t Help Singing,” a Technicolor musical in which he also sang a modest hit, “Californ-i-ay.”

In the 1950s he was one of the hosts on “The Big Payoff,” a TV game show in which men told why their wives and girlfriends deserved to win prizes.


Role for Television

In 1955 he became host of “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” which originally starred Eddie Cantor. The program later became “The Colgate Variety Hour.”

Paige also worked as a newscaster for ABC-TV in Los Angeles with Baxter Ward and became one of Ward’s deputies when the former anchor man was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1972.

At the time of his death, he was reported to have been working on an autobiography.

Surviving are his wife, Maxine, a daughter, two stepdaughters, a brother, five grandsons and three great-grandsons.