Born into a prominent Boston family of bankers whose patriarch was said to have arrived in America from England in 1683, Sonny Tufts would end his career as a Hollywood “bad boy,” immersed in drink and scandal.
Tufts was graduated from Yale in 1935 and began pursuing a career in opera, eventually auditioning with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. But he drifted into the world of pop music and soon found himself on the Broadway stage. He went to Hollywood in 1942 and for most of the 1940’s appeared in supporting roles or as second leads in light comedies produced by Paramount Pictures. An old college football injury had disqualified him for military duty, and so, with many of Hollywood’s younger leading men serving overseas in World War II, this tall, blond, blue-eyed actor became something of a star, if only by default. But by the turn of the decade he had found his name in print on account of his off-screen activities. In 1949 he had been found drunk on a Hollywood sidewalk. In 1950 he was sued by two women for allegedly biting each of them in the thigh. In 1951 his wife had him jailed for drunkenness. The name Sonny Tufts itself became a joke. Thereafter he made few films, but could be found in occasional guest appearances on inconsequential TV shows. He died of pneumonia at age 58.