James Dunn (actor)
Dunn in 1955.
|Born||James Howard Dunn
November 2, 1901
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 1, 1967
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||following abdominal surgery|
|Occupation||Actor, Vaudeville performer|
(m.19?? - 19??)
(m.1945-1967; his death)
Born in New York City, Dunn was the son of a Wall Street stockbroker. He joined his father in his business for three years. Dunn started his entertainment career in vaudeville before progressing to films at Paramount's Astoria studios in the late 1920s starting as an extra. After a gap where he appeared in stock companies, he returned to films. He was signed by Fox in 1931, making 22 films and several more on loan-out.
Dunn made a strong first impression with his first role, in director Frank Borzage's Bad Girl. He went on to make several formula films, including Society Girl (1932), in which he played a boxer distracted by his girlfriend (Peggy Shannon) and whose manager, played by Spencer Tracy in a rare supporting role, walks out in frustration; and Hello, Sister! (1933), a butchered recutting and partial reshooting of Erich von Stroheim's film Walking Down Broadway with Boots Mallory and ZaSu Pitts. Dunn's early successes included four Shirley Temple films in 1934, Baby Take a Bow, Stand Up and Cheer!, Change of Heart and Bright Eyes. The roles that followed did nothing to further his career, and during the late 1930s his prospects were further diminished by a battle with alcoholism.
In 1945 his performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He portrayed an alcoholic but good-natured Irish father, a dreamer whose presence brought joy to those around him even though he was never a success in the traditional sense.
His success was short-lived and by the beginning of the 1950s, he was unemployed, bankrupt, and once again depending on alcohol. After 1950, he appeared in only three feature films, but continued working in television until his death. From 1954 to 1956, he appeared in the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life as Earl Morgan, the deadbeat brother-in-law of the main character Amy Morgan (played by Frances Bavier) who was always concocting "get-rich-quick" schemes. Dunn also made appearances in many other television programs in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in guest-starring roles.
Dunn was married three times. His first, to Edna O'Lier, ended in divorce. He was married to the actress Frances Gifford from 1938 until 1942. He married his third wife, Edna Rush in 1945, who survived him at his death in 1967 at the age of 65 from complications following stomach surgery in Santa Monica.
|1929||In the Nick of Time||as Jimmy Dunn|
|1930||Believe It or Not#3||Reporter||uncredited|
|Tom Thumbs Down||as Jimmy Dunn|
|The Varsity Show||as Jimmy Dunn|
|1931||Bad Girl||Eddie Collins|
|Sob Sister||Garry Webster|
|Over the Hill||Johnny Shelby as an Adult|
|1932||Society Girl||Johnny Malone|
|Dance Team||Jimmy Mulligan|
|Handle with Care||Bill Gordon|
|1933||Hold Me Tight||Chuck|
|Arizona to Broadway||Smiley Wells|
|Sailor's Luck||Jimmy Harrigan|
|Jimmy and Sally||Jimmy O'Connor|
|The Girl in 419||Dr. Daniel French|
|Take a Chance||Duke Stanley|
|1934||Hold That Girl||Barney Sullivan|
|365 Nights in Hollywood||James 'Jimmy' Dale|
|Have a Heart||James 'Jimmie' Flaherty|
|Bright Eyes||James 'Loop' Merritt|
|Change of Heart||Mack McGowan|
|Stand Up and Cheer!||Jimmy Dugan|
|Baby Take a Bow||Eddie Ellison|
|1935||Bad Boy||Eddie Nolan|
|The Daring Young Man||Don McLane|
|The Payoff||Joe McCoy|
|Welcome Home||Richard Foster|
|George White's 1935 Scandals||Eddy Taylor|
|1936||Come Closer, Folks||Jim Keene|
|Don't Get Personal||Bob|
|Hearts in Bondage||Lieutenant Kenneth Reynolds|
|Mysterious Crossing||Addison Francis Murphy|
|1937||We Have Our Moments||John Wade|
|Living on Love||Gary Martin|
|Venus Makes Trouble||Buzz Martin|
|1938||Shadows Over Shanghai||Johnny McGinty|
|1939||Pride of the Navy||Speed Brennan|
|Mercy Plane||Speed Leslie|
|1940||Son of the Navy||Chief Gunners Mate Mike Malone|
|Hold That Woman!||Jimmy Parker, a Skip-Tracer|
|1942||The Living Ghost||Nick Trayne|
|1943||The Ghost and the Guest||Webster Frye|
|1944||Leave It to the Irish||Terry Moran, Private Investigator|
|Government Girl||Sergeant Joe Blake|
|1945||A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||Johnny Nolan aka The Brooklyn Thrush||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|The Caribbean Mystery||Mr. Smith|
|1946||That Brennan Girl||Denny Reagan aka Prof. Who's Its|
|1947||Killer McCoy||Brian McCoy|
|1948||Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven||Mike|
|1950||A Wonderful Life|
|The Golden Gloves Story||Joe Riley|
|1960||The Bramble Bush||Stew Schaeffer|
|1962||Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man||Telegrapher|
|1966||The Oscar||Network Executive|
- "James Dunn, Actor, Dies". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. September 4, 1967. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Stamford City Ward 2, Fairfield, CT, enumeration district 113, page 18A. The enumeration indicates that Dunn was 8 years old as of April 1910.
- James Dunn. Allocine.co.uk.
- Great Character Actors. Doug Macauley.com.