James Dunn (actor)

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James Dunn
James Dunn.jpg
Dunn in 1955.
BornJames Howard Dunn
(1901-11-02)November 2, 1901
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedSeptember 1, 1967(1967-09-01) (aged 65)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death
following abdominal surgery
OccupationActor, Vaudeville performer
Years active1929-1966
Spouse(s)Edna O'Lier
(m.19?? - 19??)
Frances Gifford
(m.1938-1942; divorced)
Edna Rush
(m.1945-1967; his death)
 
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James Dunn
James Dunn.jpg
Dunn in 1955.
BornJames Howard Dunn
(1901-11-02)November 2, 1901
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedSeptember 1, 1967(1967-09-01) (aged 65)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death
following abdominal surgery
OccupationActor, Vaudeville performer
Years active1929-1966
Spouse(s)Edna O'Lier
(m.19?? - 19??)
Frances Gifford
(m.1938-1942; divorced)
Edna Rush
(m.1945-1967; his death)

James Howard Dunn (November 2, 1901 – September 1, 1967)[1][2] was an American film actor.

Biography[edit]

Born in New York City, Dunn was the son of a Wall Street stockbroker. He joined his father in his business for three years. Dunn started his entertainment career in vaudeville before progressing to films at Paramount's Astoria studios in the late 1920s starting as an extra.[3] After a gap where he appeared in stock companies, he returned to films. He was signed by Fox in 1931, making 22 films and several more on loan-out.[3]

Dunn made a strong first impression with his first role, in director Frank Borzage's Bad Girl.[3] He went on to make several formula films, including Society Girl (1932), in which he played a boxer distracted by his girlfriend (Peggy Shannon) and whose manager, played by Spencer Tracy in a rare supporting role, walks out in frustration; and Hello, Sister! (1933), a butchered recutting and partial reshooting of Erich von Stroheim's film Walking Down Broadway with Boots Mallory and ZaSu Pitts. Dunn's early successes included four Shirley Temple films in 1934, Baby Take a Bow, Stand Up and Cheer!, Change of Heart and Bright Eyes.[3]

The roles that followed did nothing to further his career, and during the late 1930s his prospects were further diminished by a battle with alcoholism. In 1945 his performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, playing an alcoholic but good-natured Irish father, a dreamer whose presence brought joy to those around him even though he was never a success in the traditional sense.

His success was short-lived and by the beginning of the 1950s, he was unemployed, bankrupt, and once again depending on alcohol. After 1950, he appeared in only three feature films, but continued working in television until his death. From 1954 to 1956, he appeared in the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life as Earl Morgan, the deadbeat brother-in-law of the main character Amy Morgan (played by Frances Bavier) who was always concocting "get-rich-quick" schemes.

Personal life[edit]

Dunn was married three times. His first, to Edna O'Lier, ended in divorce.[4] He was married to the actress Frances Gifford from 1938 until 1942. He married his third wife, Edna Rush in 1945, who survived him at his death in 1967 at the age of 65 from complications following stomach surgery in Santa Monica.

James Dunn has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his contributions to motion pictures at 6555 Hollywood Boulevard, and television at 7010 Hollywood Boulevard.

Filmography[edit]

YearFilmRoleNotes
1929In the Nick of Timeas Jimmy Dunn
1930Believe It or Not#3Reporteruncredited
Barefoot Days
Tom Thumbs Downas Jimmy Dunn
The Varsity Showas Jimmy Dunn
1931Bad GirlEddie Collins
Sob SisterGarry Webster
Over the HillJohnny Shelby as an Adult
1932Society GirlJohnny Malone
Dance TeamJimmy Mulligan
Handle with CareBill Gordon
1933Hold Me TightChuck
Hello, Sister!Jimmy
Arizona to BroadwaySmiley Wells
Sailor's LuckJimmy Harrigan
Jimmy and SallyJimmy O'Connor
The Girl in 419Dr. Daniel French
Take a ChanceDuke Stanley
1934Hold That GirlBarney Sullivan
365 Nights in HollywoodJames 'Jimmy' Dale
Have a HeartJames 'Jimmie' Flaherty
Bright EyesJames 'Loop' Merritt
Change of HeartMack McGowan
Stand Up and Cheer!Jimmy Dugan
Baby Take a BowEddie Ellison
1935Bad BoyEddie Nolan
The Daring Young ManDon McLane
The PayoffJoe McCoy
Welcome HomeRichard Foster
George White's 1935 ScandalsEddy Taylor
1936Come Closer, FolksJim Keene
Don't Get PersonalBob
Hearts in BondageLieutenant Kenneth Reynolds
Two-Fisted GentlemanMickey
Mysterious CrossingAddison Francis Murphy
1937We Have Our MomentsJohn Wade
Living on LoveGary Martin
Venus Makes TroubleBuzz Martin
1938Shadows Over ShanghaiJohnny McGinty
1939Pride of the NavySpeed Brennan
Mercy PlaneSpeed Leslie
1940Son of the NavyChief Gunners Mate Mike Malone
Hold That Woman!Jimmy Parker, a Skip-Tracer
1942The Living GhostNick Trayne
1943The Ghost and the GuestWebster Frye
1944Leave It to the IrishTerry Moran, Private Investigator
Government GirlSergeant Joe Blake
1945A Tree Grows in BrooklynJohnny Nolan aka The Brooklyn ThrushAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Caribbean MysteryMr. Smith
1946That Brennan GirlDenny Reagan aka Prof. Who's Its
1947Killer McCoyBrian McCoy
1948Texas, Brooklyn and HeavenMike
1950A Wonderful Life
The Golden Gloves StoryJoe Riley
1960The Bramble BushStew Schaeffer
1962Hemingway's Adventures of a Young ManTelegrapher
1966The OscarNetwork Executive

James Dunn appeared in the Bonanza Series "The Auld Sod" Air Date: 4 February 1962 Guest Stars James Dunn (Danny Lynch), Cheerio Meredith (Nellie Lynch), Jeff De Benning (John Higgins), Howard Wright (Howie), Keith Richards (Mr. Riley), Norman Leavitt (Mr. Ramsay/Telegrapher), Jack Carr (Card Player), Pete Robinson (Card Player) Notes•Featured Cartwright: Hoss

References[edit]

  1. ^ "James Dunn, Actor, Dies". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. September 4, 1967. Retrieved December 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Stamford City Ward 2, Fairfield, CT, enumeration district 113, page 18A. The enumeration indicates that Dunn was 8 years old as of April 1910.
  3. ^ a b c d James Dunn. Allocine.co.uk.
  4. ^ Great Character Actors. Doug Macauley.com.

External links[edit]