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Fowley in undated photo
|Born||Daniel Vincent Fowley
May 30, 1911
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 21, 1998
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles
|Alma mater||Xavier High School (New York City)
St. Francis Xavier Military Academy
|Spouse(s)||7 marriages; six divorces
Maria Fowley (m. ?-?; divorced)
Shelby Payne (m. 1938-1943; divorced)
Mary Hunter (m.1944-?; divorced)
Vivian Chamber (m.1947-?; divorced)
Joy Torstup (m.1950-?; divorced)
Judy Walsh (m.1954-1955; divorced)
Jean Fowley (m. ?-1998; his death))
Douglas Fowley (May 30, 1911 – May 21, 1998) was an American movie and television actor. The 5'11" actor is probably best remembered for his role as the frustrated movie director Roscoe Dexter in Singin' in the Rain (1952).
Fowley was born Daniel Vincent Fowley in The Bronx in New York City. He appeared in more than 240 films and later in dozens of television programs. He began acting while attending St. Francis Xavier Military Academy.
Fowley began as a singing waiter and then worked as a copy boy for The New York Times, a runner for a Wall Street broker, a United States Postal Service employee, a barker, a salesman, a professional football player, and finally a professional actor.
After nightclub performing and stage work, Fowley appeared in 1933 in his first film, The Mad Game, alongside Spencer Tracy. Early in his acting career, he was usually cast as movie heavies or gangsters in B-movies, including Charlie Chan and Laurel and Hardy features. Fowley and his then wife, contract actress Shelby Payne, are the parents of 1960s record producer Kim Fowley.
Fowley's films include Twenty Mule Team, Fall Guy, Mighty Joe Young, Angels in the Outfield (1951), Battleground, Armored Car Robbery, Chick Carter, Detective, The Naked Jungle, The High and the Mighty and Walking Tall.
For several seasons, Fowley played the key supporting role of John H. "Doc" Holliday in the 1955-1961 western television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp after having appeared as Doc Fabrique in the show's premiere season. Carol Montgomery Stone was cast as his common law wife, "Big Nose Kate" or Kate Holliday, in ten episodes in the 1957-1958 season. Myron Healey played Doc Holliday in ten other episodes on the series.
The role of Doc Holliday allowed Fowley to demonstrate his flair for comedy and other acting skills as a clever, sharp-witted, sardonic, cynical, alcoholic, poker-playing foil to the square-jawed, milk-drinking, church-going Wyatt Earp (Hugh O'Brien), whom Holiday nicknamed "Deacon" due to his rigid sense of morality. Not at all so encombered Doc would occasionally take the law into his own hands behind Earp's back to protect his friend from legal action or even death when the marshal was legally or morally ham-strung. Holliday, as played by Fowley, having no problem working around morals or the law, could be either hilarious or cold-blooded.
Even after originating the role of Holliday, if Doc were not written into a week's script, Fowley would often be asked to stretch his acting muscles playing one-shot characters, often made up with white hair and beard with Fowley disguising his distinctive voice in one way or other.
In the 1950s, he appeared as himself on NBC's The Donald O'Connor Show. He was cast in 1956 as Bob Egan in the "Two-Fisted Saint" episode of the religious anthology series Crossroads. He portrayed a con man in two episodes of the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life. He also guest-starred on Reed Hadley's CBS legal drama The Public Defender. He appeared, too, on the ABC situation comedy The Pride of the Family and on the NBC western series The Californians and Jefferson Drum. He was cast on two Rod Cameron series, the syndicated City Detective and the western-themed State Trooper, and in John Bromfield's related series, U.S. Marshal. He guest-starred too in the David Janssen crime drama Richard Diamond, Private Detective.
In 1965 he was cast as "Sorrowful" in episode 83 of the series "The Virginian" with co-stars Forest Tucker and Andrew Prine.
From 1966-67, Fowley was a regular cast member in Pistols 'n' Petticoats, a CBS sitcom parodying the Old West somewhat like Forrest Tucker's F Troop on ABC. Fowley played the elderly patriarch in a family of gun-toting women who seemed to have little need for male assistance. His co-stars were Ruth McDevitt as his wife, Ann Sheridan as his daughter (who died in real life two months before the series ended), and Gary Vinson as Sheriff Harold Sikes.
The navy veteran grew a long beard in the 1960s to play Gabby Hayes-like roles on television in contrast to his well-groomed looks in the 1940s and 1950s. He appeared in the syndicated 1959-1960 western Pony Express in the episode "Showdown at Thirty Mile Ridge". He was cast in 1963 in Miracle of the White Stallions.
Fowley was usually typecast as a villain; when not playing an actual criminal, he often portrayed an argumentative troublemaker. Portraying a member of Tyrone Power's orchestra in Alexander's Ragtime Band, in the early scenes of the film Fowley's character quarrels with his bandmates, but this is not developed in the film's later scenes.
Fowley continued to act into the 1970s and was frequently billed as "Douglas V. Fowley". One of his last roles was as Delaney Rafferty (opposite Patsy Kelly) in Disney's The North Avenue Irregulars, in which he dressed in drag.
Fowley died nine days before what would have been his 87th birthday. He was buried at the Murrieta, California, Laurel Cemetery.
- Big Brown Eyes (1936)
- Shake Hands with Murder (1944)
- Detective Kitty O'Day (1944)
- The Racket Man (1944)
- Along the Navajo Trail (1945)
- Don't Fence Me In (1945)
- Gas House Kids in Hollywood (1947)
- The Hucksters (1947)
- Behind Locked Doors (1948)
- Search for Danger (1949)
- Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- Red River Shore (1953)
- Man from Del Rio (1956)
- Barabbas (1961)
- Steven Jay Rube, Combat Films (Jefferson , N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2011), p. 28
- "The Texan". Classic Television Archive. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Douglas Fowley at the Internet Movie Database
- Douglas Fowley at the Internet Broadway Database
- Douglas Fowley at Find a Grave