Denis O'Dea

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Denis O'Dea
Denis O'Dea (1933).jpg
Denis O'Dea in 1933. Photo by Carl Van Vechten
Born(1905-04-26)26 April 1905
Dublin, Ireland
Died5 November 1978(1978-11-05) (aged 73)
Years active1935–60
Spouse(s)Siobhán McKenna (1946–78) (his death) 1 son

Denis O'Dea (26 April 1905 – 5 November 1978) was an Irish stage and film actor.

He was born in Dublin. When very young he and his mother Kathleen (from County Kerry) moved in with her sister, who kept a boarding house at 54 South Richmond Street.[1] He worked in insurance until taking up acting. O'Dea was a leading member of Dublin's Abbey Theatre where he had a great acting career from 1929 to 1953; a list of his performances can be found in the Abbey archives[2]. He also appeared in numerous plays[3] by Irish playwright Teresa Deevy, some of which toured New York and England. His work led to a number of notable film roles, including two mid-1930s John Ford films, The Informer and The Plough and the Stars (1936), and the part of the police inspector in pursuit of IRA man James Mason in Carol Reed's Odd Man Out (1947).[4]

Other films in which he appeared include The Mark of Cain (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948, again for Reed, and again as a police inspector), Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn (1949), The Bad Lord Byron (1949), Landfall (1949), Marry Me! (1949), Disney's Treasure Island (1950), Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), The Long Dark Hall (1951), Mogambo (1953; another John Ford film), Niagara (1953), Never Take No for an Answer (1953), The Rising of the Moon (1957), Captain Lightfoot (1957), Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959), and Esther and the King (1960).[5]


He was married to actress Siobhán McKenna from 1946 until his death in 1978 at the age of 73; they had one son, Donnacha O'Dea, who is a champion swimmer and professional poker player.[4]



  • The Reapers (1930)
  • A Disciple (1931)
  • Temporal Powers (1932)
  • Katie Roche (1937) New York
  • Katie Roche (1937) Cambridge, England
  • Temporal Powers (1937)
  • The King of Spain's Daughter (1938) Dublin
  • The King of Spain's Daughter (1939) Cork


  1. ^ 1911 Census returns
  2. ^ "The Abbey Theatre Archives".
  3. ^ "The Teresa Deevy Archive".
  4. ^ a b Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 314. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4.
  5. ^ McGuire, James; Quinn, James (2009). Dictionary of Irish Biography. Volume III. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy-Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521633314.

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