In 1935, Montgomery became President of the Screen Actors Guild, and was elected again in 1946. In 1937 he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Night Must Fall, and again in 1942 for Here Comes Mr. Jordan. During World War II, he joined the Navy, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
In 1945 he returned to Hollywood, making his directing debut in They Were Expendable. He was a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. He hosted a popular television series, Robert Montgomery Presents, in the 1950s.
His daughter was actress Elizabeth Montgomery.
Montgomery has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for movies at 6440 Hollywood Blvd., and one for television at 1631 Vine Street.