|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
October 13, 1889|
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
|Died||April 2, 1974
Woodland Hills, California, USA
|Resting place||Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California|
|Spouse(s)||Jessie Lawson (1910-58, her death)
Patricia Mowbray (1960-74, his death)
Life and career
Douglass Dumbrille was born in Hamilton, Ontario. As a young man, he was employed as a bank clerk in Hamilton while pursuing an interest in acting. He eventually left banking to work with a stock company that led him to Chicago, Illinois, and a job with another stock company that toured the United States. In 1913, the East Coast film industry was flourishing and that year he appeared in the film What Eighty Million Women Want, but it would be another 11 years before he appeared on screen again. In 1924, he made his Broadway debut and worked off and on in the theatre for several years while supplementing his income with sales jobs, selling car accessories, tea, insurance, real estate, books, etc.
During the Great Depression, Dumbrille moved to the West Coast where he specialized in playing secondary character roles to the great stars of the day. His physical appearance and suave voice made him perfect for the role of the slick politician, shyster businessman, crooked sheriff, or unscrupulous lawyer. A consummate professional, he was highly regarded by the studios and was sought out by Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Capra, Hal Roach and other Hollywood directing greats. A friend of fellow Canadian-born director Allan Dwan, Dumbrille played Athos in Dwan’s 1939 adaptation of The Three Musketeers.
Over his long and successful career, Douglass Dumbrille had roles in more than 200 motion pictures, and with the advent of television he made numerous appearances throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He had the unusual ability to project the right balance of menace and pomposity required to be an effective heavy in comedy films, such as those of the Marx Brothers or Abbott and Costello. He played the same role in Capra's 1934 film Broadway Bill and the 1950 remake, Riding High. He also appeared in DeMille's 1938 version of The Buccaneer and twenty years later in the 1958 color remake.
Working also in television, Dumbrille was cast in six episodes of the religion anthology series, Crossroads, He portrayed Senator Bates in "Thanksgiving Prayer" (1956), with Ron Hagerthy of Sky King also in the cast. Dumbrille thereafter portrayed Mr. Willoughby in "Big Sombrero" (1957). In 1958, he was cast in three episodes as Mayor John Geary on the NBC western series, The Californians. He was subsequently guest starred in Frank Aletter's CBS sitcom, Bringing Up Buddy.
Dumbrille made two guest appearances as a judge on CBS's Perry Mason; in 1964 he played Judge Robert Adler in "The Case of the Latent Lover", and in 1965 he played an unnamed judge in "The Case of the Duplicate Case." In his final television role he portrayed a doctor in an episode of Batman in February, 1966.
After a long marriage, his wife Jessie Lawson, mother of his son John and daughter Douglass (Dougie), died in 1958. In 1960, at the age of seventy, Dumbrille caused a stir when he married Patricia Mowbray, the 28-year-old daughter of his friend and fellow actor, Alan Mowbray. In response to criticism of the May–December marriage, Dumbrille had a succinct answer: "Age doesn’t mean a blasted thing. The important thing is whether two people can be happy together. Pat and I agreed that I had some years left and we could best share them together. We don’t give a continental damn what other people think."
- "Douglass Dumbrille". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- Douglass Dumbrille at the Internet Movie Database
- Douglass Dumbrille at the Internet Broadway Database
- Douglass Dumbrille at Find a Grave