|Born||February 17, 1877
St. Johns, Newfoundland
|Died||December 22, 1948
Great Neck, Long Island, New York
|Spouse(s)||Florence Gleason Pope
Virginia O'Brien (1 daughter)
Donald Brian (February 17, 1877 – December 22, 1948) was an actor, dancer and singer born St. John's, Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada), at the age of eighteen was crowned "King of Broadway" by the New York Times in 1907. Brian is 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.
Brian, a tenor, was employed in a Boston machine shop and at the age of 16 began performing with a vocal quartette. When he joined a theatrical troupe in New York City his career had taken off. 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 would make 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.
Selected Broadway musicals Brian had starred or had principal roles;
- 1899 - On the Wabash
- 1902 - Florodora
- 1904 - Little Johnny Jones by George M. Cohan
- 1906 - 45 Minutes From Broadway
- 1907 - The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár
- 1909 - The Dollar Princess
- 1911 - The Siren
- 1914 - The Girl From Utah
- 1916 - Sybil
- 1918 - Kissing Time
- 1919 - Buddies
- 1921 - The Chocolate Soldier
- 1922 - Up She Goes
- 1925 - Peggy O'Hooligan
- 1926 - No, No, Nanette
- 1939 - Very Warm for May
Brian was president of the Catholic Actor's Guild and helped many young budding performers excel in their career.
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.
Donald Brian died at Great Neck, New York in 1948.
- Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel C. Blum c.1952(reprint 1954)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donald Brian.|
- Donald Brian at the Internet Broadway Database
- Donald Brian at the Internet Movie Database
- Who's Who in Musicals
- Donald Brian University of Washington, Sayre collection
- Donald Brian NY Public Library, Billy Rose collection
- Mrs. Donald Brian(Virginia O'Brien) with Eugene Walter and Charlotte Walker