Donald Brian

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For the New Zealand cricketer, see Donald Brian (cricketer).
Donald Brian
Born February 17, 1877
St. Johns, Newfoundland
Died December 22, 1948
Great Neck, Long Island, New York
Occupation actor
Years active 1899–1939
Spouse(s) Florence Gleason Pope
Virginia O'Brien (1 daughter)
The Smugglers (1916)

Donald Brian (February 17, 1877 – December 22, 1948) was an actor, dancer and singer born in St. John's, Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada). In 1907, he starred in the hit operetta The Merry Widow. The same year, he was called "King of Broadway" by The New York Times.[citation needed] Brian is also noted for helping President Theodore Roosevelt act more relaxed in public and teaching Frank Sinatra to dance and entertain U.S. Troops in England with Bob Hope.[citation needed]

Life and career[edit]

Brian, a tenor, was employed in a Boston machine shop and, at the age of 16, began performing with a vocal quartet. When he joined a theatrical troupe in New York City, he was soon in demand as a leading man. He had leading roles in more than 20 Broadway musicals. In 1915 Brian signed with film producer Jesse L. Lasky to do two films, The Voice in the Fog (1915) and The Smugglers (1916). After the latter he made no more film appearances until the sound era. His first sound film was an excerpt of his role in Peggy O'Hooligan (1925), made in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process.[citation needed]

Selected Broadway musicals and operettas[edit]

Brian was president of the Catholic Actor's Guild and helped many young budding performers excel in their career.[citation needed]

He was married twice, first to a divorced woman named Mrs. Florence Gleason Pope and second to stage actress Virginia O'Brien (not to be confused with the film actress born 1919). He and O'Brien had one daughter, Denise.[1]

Brian died in Great Neck, New York in 1948.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Great Stars of the American Stage (Profile #72) by Daniel C. Blum c. 1952 (reprint 1954)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]