Jay C. Flippen

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Jay C. Flippen
Jay C. Flippen in Hot Summer Night trailer.jpg
Born (1899-03-06)March 6, 1899
Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas, U.S.
Died February 3, 1971(1971-02-03) (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Complications from surgery to repair aneurysm
Resting place
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles
Occupation Actor
Years active 1928-1971
Spouse(s) Ruth Brooks Flippen (1947-1971) (his death)

Jay C. Flippen (March 6, 1899 in Little Rock, Arkansas – February 3, 1971 in Los Angeles, California) was an American character actor who often played police officers or weary criminals in many films of the 1940s and 1950s.[1]


He was born on March 6, 1899 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Flippen was an established and respected vaudeville singer and stage actor before his film career. He had been discovered by famed African-American comedian Bert Williams in the 1920s. He called himself "The Ham What Am," and performed occasionally in blackface. Flippen attained the most coveted booking in vaudeville, headlining at the Palace Theatre in New York six times between March 1926 and February 1931.[2]

At one time he was also a radio announcer for New York Yankees games and was one of the first game show announcers. Between 1924 and 1929, Flippen recorded more than thirty songs for Columbia, Perfect and Brunswick.

His first film, the 1928 Warner Bros. short subject "The Ham What Am", captures his vaudeville performance, and there are other shorts in the 1930s, but his film career started in earnest in 1947.

Flippen also appeared on television, including a 1960 guest-starring role as Gabe Jethrow in the episode "Four Came Quietly" on the CBS western series Johnny Ringo, starring Don Durant. In 1962, he guest starred on the ABC drama series Bus Stop as Mike Carmody in "Verdict of 12" and Follow the Sun as Fallon in "The Last of the Big Spenders." He also appeared on ABC's The Untouchables as Al Morrisey in "You Can't Pick the Number" (1959) and as Big Joe Holvak in "Fall Guy" (1962).

In the 1962-63 season, Flippen was cast as Chief Petty Officer Homer Nelson on the NBC sitcom Ensign O'Toole, with Dean Jones in the starring role. He also guest starred on CBS' The Dick Van Dyke Show in its first season, playing Rob Petrie's former mentor Happy Spangler. In 1964, he appeared as Owney in an episode of CBS' Gunsmoke with James Arness. In 1963, he guest starred on Bonanza. He appeared four times on NBC's The Virginian in the 1960s; in 1966, he appeared on the ABC comedy western The Rounders. In 1967, he and Tom Tryon guest starred in the episode "Charade of Justice" of the NBC western series The Road West.

Later in life, Flippen continued acting although he used a wheelchair after an amputation like in Ironside (Season 1 "A Very Cool Hot Car"). He was married for 25 years to screenwriter Ruth Brooks Flippen.

Flippen died February 3, 1971 during surgery from an aneurysm caused by a swollen artery, one month before his 72nd birthday.[1] He was interred in a crypt in the Corridor of Memories section at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles near the grave of Marilyn Monroe.

Partial filmography[edit]


  • Wanted: Dead or Alive - episode - Miracle at Pot Hole - Chute Wilson (1958)
  • Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color - episode - The Griswold Murder - Pop Griswold (1959)
  • The Untouchables - episode - You Can't Pick the Number - Al Morrisey (1959)
  • Stagecoach Coast - episode - Not in Our Stars - Aaron Sutter (1961)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show - episode - The Return of Happy Spangler - Happy Spangler (1962)
  • The Untouchables - episode - Fall Guy - Big Joe Holvak (1962)
  • Ensign O'Toole - 32 episodes - Chief Petty Officer Homer Nelson (1962-1963)
  • Bonanza - episode - The Prime of Life - Barney Fuller (1963)
  • Gunsmoke - episode - Owney Tupper Had a Daughter - Owney (1964)
  • The Virginian - episode - Ride to Delphi - Stage Depot Agent (uncredited) (1966)
  • The Virginian - episode - The Wolves Up Front, the Jackals Behind - Pa Colby (1966)
  • A Man Called Shenandoah - episode - The Imposter - Andrew O'Rourke (1966)
  • Ironside - episode - A Very Cool Hot Car - Muldoon (1967)
  • The Virginian - episode - The Barren Ground - Asa Keogh (1967)
  • The Virginian - episode - Stopover - Judge (1969)
  • Rawhide - episode - Incident of the Widowed Dove - Marshal Lindstrom (1959)


External links[edit]