Andy Devine

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Andy Devine
Andy Devine in A Star is Born.jpg
Devine in the film A Star Is Born (1937)
Born Andrew Vabre Devine
(1905-10-07)October 7, 1905
Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.
Died February 18, 1977(1977-02-18) (aged 71)
Orange, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926–77
Spouse(s) Dorothy House (1933–77, until his death)

Andrew Vabre Devine (October 7, 1905 – February 18, 1977)[1] was an American character actor known for his distinctive raspy, crackly voice and roles in Western films. He is probably best remembered for his role as Cookie, the sidekick of Roy Rogers in 10 feature films. He also appeared alongside John Wayne in films like Stagecoach (1939), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and How the West Was Won (both 1962). He is also remembered as Jingles on the TV series The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok from 1951 to 1958, as Danny McGuire in A Star Is Born (1937) and as the voice of Friar Tuck in the Disney Animation film Robin Hood (1973).

Early life[edit]

Devine was born in Flagstaff, Arizona on October 7, 1905. He grew up in Kingman, Arizona, where his family moved when he was one year old. His father was Thomas Devine Jr., born in 1869 in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Andy's grandfather Thomas Devine Sr. was born in 1842 in County Tipperary, Ireland, and immigrated to the United States in 1852. Andy's mother was Amy Ward, a granddaughter of Commander James H. Ward, the first officer of the United States Navy killed during the Civil War. Devine was a Republican.[2]

He attended St. Mary and St. Benedict's College and Northern Arizona State Teacher's College (now Northern Arizona University) and was a football player at Santa Clara University.[3][4] He also played semiprofessional football[4] under the pseudonym Jeremiah Schwartz. His football experience led to his first sizable film role in The Spirit of Notre Dame in 1931.[4]

Career[edit]

Devine with Rosemary Clooney, 1958

Devine had an ambition to act, so after college he went to Hollywood, where he worked as a lifeguard at Venice Beach,[4][5] in easy distance of the studios. While filming Doctor Bull at Fox Studios in 1933, he met Dorothy House. They were married on October 28, 1933, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and remained united until his death, on February 18, 1977. They had two children: Timothy Andrew Devine, Jr. (born 1934), Dennis Patrick Gabriel Devine (born 1935).

It was first thought that his peculiar wheezy voice would prevent him from moving to the talkies, but instead it became his trademark. Devine claimed that his distinctive voice resulted from a childhood accident in which he fell while running with a curtain rod in his mouth at the Beale Hotel in Kingman, causing the rod to pierce the roof of his mouth. When he was able to speak again, he had a labored, scratchy, duo-tone voice. A biographer, however, indicated that this was one of several stories Devine fabricated about his voice.[6] His son Tad related in an interview for Encore Westerns Channel (Jim Beaver, reporting from the 2007 Newport Beach Film Festival) that there indeed had been an accident, but he was uncertain if it resulted in his father's unusual voice. When asked if he had strange nodes on his vocal cords, Devine replied, "I've got the same nodes as Bing Crosby, but his are in tune."

Devine appeared in more than 400 films and shared with Walter Brennan, another character actor, the rare ability to move with ease from B-movie Westerns to feature films. His notable roles included Cookie, Roy Rogers's sidekick, in 10 films; a role in Romeo and Juliet (1936),[7] and Danny in A Star Is Born (1937). He appeared in several films with John Wayne, including Stagecoach (1939), Island in the Sky (1953), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

He was a long-time contract player with Universal, which in 1939 paired him with Richard Arlen for a series of fast-paced B-pictures (usually loaded with stock footage) that mixed action and comedy; they made 14 over a two-year period. When Arlen left in 1941, the series continued for another two years, teaming Devine with various actors, often Leo Carrillo.

Most of Devine's characters were reluctant to get involved in the action, but he played the hero in Island in the Sky (1953), as an expert pilot who leads other aviators on an arduous search for a missing airplane. Devine was generally known for his comic roles, but Jack Webb cast him as a police detective in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), for which Devine lowered his voice and was more serious than usual.

His film appearances in his later years included roles in Zebra in the Kitchen, The Over-the-Hill Gang, and Myra Breckinridge.

Devine's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 6366 Hollywood Blvd.

Devine worked extensively in radio and is well remembered for his role as Jingles, Guy Madison's sidekick in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, which the two actors reprised on television. Devine appeared over 75 times on Jack Benny's radio show between 1936 and 1942, often in Benny's semiregular series of Western sketches, "Buck Benny Rides Again". Benny frequently referred to him as "the mayor of Van Nuys." In fact, Devine served as honorary mayor of that city, where he lived, preferring to be away from the bustle of Hollywood, from May 18, 1938, to 1957, when he moved to Newport Beach.[8][9]

Devine also worked in television. He hosted Andy's Gang, a children's TV show,[9] on NBC from 1955 to 1960. During this time, he also made multiple appearances on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In addition, he was a guest star on many television shows in the 1950s and 1960s, including an episode of The Twilight Zone titled "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby", playing the part of Frisby, a teller of tall tales who impresses a group of gullible alien kidnappers. He played Hap Gorman, a character likewise given to tall tales, in five episodes of the NBC TV series Flipper, during its 1964 season. He played the role of Jake Sloan in the 1961 episode "Big Jake" of the acclaimed anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show, also on NBC. He also played Honest John Denton in the episode "A Horse of a Different Cutter" of the short-lived series The Rounders.

He made a cameo appearance as Santa Claus in an episode of the 1960s live-action Batman TV series on ABC. The episode, entitled "The Duo Is Slumming", was originally broadcast on December 22, 1966, three days before Christmas. In this role, he directly addressed the viewers, wishing them a merry Christmas.

Devine made his stage debut in 1957 with his portrayal of Cap'n Andy in Guy Lombardo's production of Show Boat at the Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, Long Island.[9] In 1973, he went to Monroe, Louisiana at the request of George C. Brian, an actor and filmmaker who headed the theater department at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, to perform in Show Boat.

He also performed voice parts in animated films, including "Friar Tuck" in Disney's Robin Hood. He provided the voice of Cornelius the Rooster in several TV commercials for Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

Devine was a pilot and owned Provo Devine, a flying school that trained flyers for the government during World War II.

Death[edit]

Devine died of leukemia at the age of 71 in Orange, California on February 18, 1977. His funeral mass was held at Holy Family Cathedral. The actor Ken Curtis sang at the funeral.

The main street of his hometown of Kingman was renamed Andy Devine Avenue. His career is highlighted in the Mohave Museum of History and Arts in Kingman, and there is a star in his honor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His name also appears in the song "Pencil Thin Mustache" by Jimmy Buffett, which describes the pop culture of his youth.

Complete filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andy Devine, Western Character, Dead at 71. Fairbanks Daily News Miner, February 19, 1977. p. A6.
  2. ^ Kritchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). "When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved August 12, 2017. 
  3. ^ Corneau, Ernest N. (1969). The Hall of Fame of Western Film Stars. Christopher Publishing House. p. 234. ISBN 978-0815801245.
  4. ^ a b c d "The Spirit of Culver". Culver-Union Township Public Library. Retrieved August 12, 2017. 
  5. ^ Lane, Frances. "Prairie Tales". Screen Stars, April 1946, p. 72. Retrieved August 12, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Froggy the Gremlin". Froggy the Gremlin. Archived from the original on 7 February 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  7. ^ Stanley, John. "Arizona Explained: Andy Devine, Professional Sidekick". Arizona Republic, January 28, 2014.
  8. ^ "Andy Devine Named 'Mayor'." Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1938.
  9. ^ a b c Collura, Joe. "Big Man, Bigger Talent". Classic Images, June 25, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]